A digital government is required by the digital economy. It’s not an issue of if or whether government should become digital; it’s a question of when. The Huawei e-Government Summit, which is part of Huawei Connect 2021, focused on this topic.
For the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), South Africa’s government has placed a high priority on digitization, with a special emphasis on driving transformation in the public sector. Stakeholders from the public sector gathered at Huawei to discuss how the public and private sectors could collaborate to expedite the government’s digital transformation.
“Innovative technologies are increasingly being used in more industries and diversified ecosystems are driving more dynamic markets across the world. As a result, South Africa needs sustainable infrastructure development to further drive the value of digital technologies in stimulating the development of the local digital economy,” said Mr. QiMeng, Huawei Director of Public Sector during his opening address at the event.
High adoption rates of innovative technologies and the rollout of digital platforms in the private sector, accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, have resulted in the personalization of services now expected by citizens, who want the same level of service from government as they do from their banks or retailers, according to Huawei Executive Industry Solutions Manager Christo Abrahams.
However, Mandla Ngcobo, the CIO of the Department of Public Service and Administration, observed that transforming the public sector is not an easy undertaking because it faces unique problems. If technology is used in the public sector in a way that does not integrate multiple departments and ministries, it could lead to a proliferation of ineffective and expensive technologies.
“More often than not, when we talk about digital transformation, we tend to emphasize technology, but as the public service sector we need to put citizens’ needs at the center,” said Ngcobo.
“Additionally, when we talk about digital government, we must ensure the administration of service provision to citizens is done in an impartial, fair, and equitable manner. Accountability, ethics and transparency is also key,” he said.
Huawei ICT senior specialist, Rose Moyo, noted that connectivity would lie at the center of any efforts to achieve this transformation of government towards intelligent services.
“Connectivity is the key enabler of technologies such as Cloud but the digital economy is driving up the demand for bandwidth significantly which could be costly if network infrastructure is not improved and connectivity is not increased,” said Moyo.
Meanwhile, cloud is set to become one of the biggest enablers of digital transformation in the public sector. A shift to cloud computing will open up avenues to other emerging technologies which have the potential to bring meaningful change to the availability, accessibility, and quality of government services.
“Cloud will enable government to modernize services that are entrenched in legacy systems and quickly create citizen-facing services,” said Vice President of Huawei Cloud Southern Africa, Michael Langeveld. “However, government can’t do this on their own and Huawei is committed to helping government on this journey with our partner ecosystem and through significant investment.”
Langeveld concluded that meaningful collaboration between the private and public sectors would be key to leveraging the full potential of the South African economy and driving the transformation of government with digital technologies. Through the transformation of governance, South Africa would be able to seize the opportunities of a digital economy.