Digital governance in South Africa
South Africa public sector, like any sector, is not immune to the serious implications of the digital economy. As a consequence, Pretoria government has to keep up with the increasing digital literacy of their citizens and adopt new ways of thinking. This demands a digital mind that is technology-agnostic, but focused on the impact of the digital economy. The government has in the past invited IT specialists from across the country to develop digital solutions to enable more efficient and transparent governance.As part of an incoming effort to realize ANC new leader Cyril Ramaphosa’s campaign promise of implementing e-governance, a South African tech researcher told your blogger that he is expecting the country’s nationwide hackathons with the aim of crowdsourcing digital application concepts that will assist in the gathering of accurate data that could serve as a foundation for more effective policies to become common under Ramaphosa leadership.He said teams that stand to benefit are those that develop the best concept for an application that will enable a more transparent and efficient collection of data on commodity prices from all over the country.The state is currently struggling to control the price of commodities, makes the goal of the Hackathons in 2018 to find solutions that are accurate, up-to-date and comprehensive, so that public officials can implement the best possible strategy.In the economy of corporations, governments, like most organisations, could rely on largely reactive service provision. Going forward he expects South African citizens to approach the government through offices, web pages, social media and government services would be provided in response. A proactive government, however, he believes should be able to react to citizens’ life events without being prompted. This could be facilitated by the provision of data from third parties or by proactively providing services based on available data.
He said that the use of technology was the most efficient way to deal with complex problems, as South Africa was fast becoming a technologically literate and well-connected nation. This will become an early initiative for the government to empower the public to help solve the nation’s strategic issues.He said that harnessing technology was an effective way to cut out the middlemen, who often manipulated commodity prices in the field for personal gain. The Cape Town based techie is confident that young innovators will help fight those who are motivated by self-enrichment.Beyond the very specific goal of the digital governance, the South African government is also expected to use that opportunity to empower the public.He added that the government aim should be to create synergy among different components of society, which in turn would help deliver public services. He said that not only would the competition and its resulting application reduce the cost of data gathering by shifting from a periodic, sample-based method, it would also allow programmers to feel good about themselves.’If South African programmers can see that they are able to be part of the good force to make their country better, this will satisfy their need for self-actualization,’ he noted, adding that this would then lead to more innovation and growth. South African government need to help the younger generation innovate, whatever they do and wherever they are. Whatever the future will hold, Pretoria government, like any corporation, needs to establish innovation capabilities. This will demand new explorative, design-intensive capabilities in addition to the dominating ability to incrementally improve exiting services and processes. Explorative, innovation services consist of environmental scanning what are emerging technologies, ideation which is how the ideas could be utilised, incubation which entails testing and prototyping as well as implementation mainly rapid, agile, scalable roll out. For South Africa to be successful, it needs to ensure the time it takes to convert emerging opportunities into available government services is shortened.This skill set will require changes in existing recruitment practices to attract South Africans who are driven by what is possible in the future under Cyril Ramaphosa as opposed to by what is broken today under Jacob Zuma governance.