The digital economy necessitates a digital government. It’s not really a question of whether or not government should become digital, it’s only a matter of time. This was the core theme explored at Huawei’s e-Government Summit, which forms part of Huawei Connect 2021.
South Africa’s government has attached great importance to digitalisation for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), with a particular focus on driving transformation in the public sector. Public sector stakeholders joined Huawei to discuss how public and private sectors could work together to accelerate government’s journey to 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.
Huawei Executive Industry Solutions Manager, Christo Abrahams, observed that high adoption rates of innovative technologies and the rollout of digital platforms in the private sector accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic had resulted in the personalisation of services now expected by citizens who want the same level of services from government as they receive from their banks or retailers.
But, Department of Public Service and Administration CIO, Mandla Ngcobo, noted it’s not a simple task to transform the public sector as it faces unique challenges in its transformation journey. If technologies are adopted into the public sector in a way that does not integrate different departments and ministries, it could result in the proliferation of technologies that are costly and inefficient.
“More often than not, when we talk about digital transformation, we tend to emphasise technology, but as the public service sector we need to put citizens needs at the centre,” 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 modernise 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 sector 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.