Information and communications technology (ICT) have hailed in the fourth industrial revolution setting a new benchmark for business. However, this era of the Internet of Things (IoT) is also challenging and “disrupting” conventional government service delivery models.
As Dr. Setumo Mohapi, chief executive officer of the South African Information Technology Agency (SITA), points out, the facilitation of increased contribution to government activities by citizenry providing multi-modal public-service delivery.
“New and more efficient state models that are built upon on these technologies are being established worldwide, and South Africa is following suit with ample examples that set the scene for our ‘e-government’ of the future,” says Dr. Mohapi.
Many of these, such as eHomeAffairs, will be presented at this year’s Government Technology Conference (GovTech) by high-ranking representatives of departments and organs of state, and will be a major highlight of the event at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand, Gauteng, from 30 October to 02 November. SITA is proud to be partnering with a number of prominent players in the ICT industry all with the common aim of enabling service delivery through ICT for citizen empowerment. This year’s sponsors include Vodacom, MTN, Microsoft, Gijima, Accenture, Business Connexion, Huawei, Pinnacle, Intel and CEOS.
This year’s conference theme is ICT for Development, Access and Growth, and the role that technologies play in meeting these three critical goals enshrined in the National Development Plan will be unpacked during the four tracks of the conference.
The first track, Access, will delve into how ICTs are helping government bridge the digital divide so that citizens can enjoy improved basic services, especially healthcare. A sound example is the role ICT is playing in ensuring equitable access to affordable medicines via initiatives, such as the Open Medicine Project.
Government is already adopting new technologies and integrating them across its departments and agencies, to enhance these amenities, including education, and the Development track of the event will complement this discussion. This “disruption” for the better is evident by digital classrooms and mobile education training that is being facilitated by ICT technologies, and drivers of new thinking around tutelage, which will be brought to during this track.
The third track, Growth, has on its agenda “smart” procurement practices in an “e-government” environment, with the SITA’s own “smart” buying initiatives to serve as one of many examples of the streamlining of state functions by effectively deploying ICTs.
GovTech 2016 will conclude with the important Innovation track, which Dr. Mohapi says will emphasise the “T” in ICT. It points to the future of public-service delivery “where governments will eventually provide services without owning any hard assets”, motivating his views on efficient “decentralised” government organs that have transformed into “one-stop-shops” for all matters relating to service delivery. Existing business models, such as Uber, are already stimulating such thinking, and further motivated by models like Bitcoin and Blockchain that bring a strong element of trust to the IoT.