Technology will be instrumental to create a stress-free 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
President Thabo Mbeki declared this spectacular showpiece an African event and it is through technology, among other means, that his remarks could become reality.
People worldwide are expected to flock to South Africa in large numbers and they would rely on technology to make crucial bookings for their stay.
In this context, the 6th Annual Pan African Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in Government Summit is underway to explore ways of ensuring a successful 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa through ICT.
The three-day summit, which started Monday, is organised by ForgeAhead, an ICT research and consultancy house based in South Africa.
The company’s Managing Director, Jane Mosebi told BuaNews on Monday that technology was the key to accomplishing Mr Mbeki’s declaration of an African event and for the hospitality of foreign nations in general.
Many would depend on technology, said Ms Mosebi, to book for accommodation, transport and match tickets before coming to South Africa.
This signifies that there should be efficient technologies in place to cater for all people.
“Some people will also be coming here for leisure and they’ll also need ICT to view the places that they could visit or tour,” she said.
Technology could also play a role in ensuring efficiency at border posts during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, to ensure that tourists do not stand in long queues at ports of entry.
Despite the high levels of police visibility expected during the world cup, she said the use of CCTV cameras would also play a role in crime prevention during the event.
She described the opportunity brought by the world cup as “a time for South Africa to get things right.”
This would dispel pessimistic statements that emanated from different parts of the world about the ability of the country to stage a successful world cup.
The South African government has already assured the world that preparations currently underway in the ten host cities in nine provinces would culminate in a successful FIFA World Cup.
Ms Mosebi emphasised the importance of research in developing new systems that would help governments deliver services efficiently to the people.
“We need skills and knowledge to determine whether the equipment that we are buying are indeed what we need,’ she said.
She highlighted that although ICT had the potential to minimise corruption in procurement processes, there was also a need for African governments to fight corruption “consciously”.
Measures such as this, Ms Mosebi explained, should be promoted to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.
Opening the summit, Swaziland’s Minister of Tourism, Environment and Communications, Thandi Shongwe said this gathering should explore means of ensuring efficient border control during 2010 through technology.
“We should harness the strength of ICT to achieve this. We should also use ICT to bridge the digital divide between Africa and the developed countries,” she said.
The summit is also discussing the role of ICT in helping governments achieve their MDGs.
The focus of this summit is on the Southern African Development Community, with similar gatherings expected in east and west Africa later this year.