Minister urges everyone at GovTech to play their part

SA’s ICT challenges are great but can be overcome

The Minister of Public Service and Administration, Lindiwe Sisulu
Lindiwe Sisulu, Publlic Service and Administration Minister

Government has the responsibility to professionalise the public service by upgrading and retaining their skills through technology. This was the key message of Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu in her opening speech at the seventh State IT Agency (Sita GovTech) conference held in Durban this week.

The conference, themed ICT Collaboration - Across and Beyond Government, a world-class platform for collaboration, capacity building and information sharing between government and the ICT sector, happened just after the South African Government has been awarded its second e-government award by the United Nations. Competing against 471 nominations from 80 United Nations Members States, the award is an extremely significant milestone for our government, for the political leadership and for the government-wide institutional arrangement through Sita. 

“Professionalising the public service is equipping public servants with technology to enhance the skills they need for their jobs,” the Minister said. According to her, professionalising the public service is equipping public servants with technology to enhance the skills they need for their jobs. “Technology and services must be designed and adapted to fit the needs of the poor in South Africa.

“Our responsibility therefore is to equip ourselves, revive and restructure state capacity, such as its workforce and its tools, to enable us to intervene decisively to reduce our biggest challenge – poverty,” she said. According to her, government's plan is building a capable developmental state. “This means a state that understands its role in development and is geared towards intervening, to ensure that its goals and mandate can be achieved.
“In the ICT environment we must begin to do things differently as we continue to build on our successes and address our challenges. I am convinced we cannot rest until there is universal access in public schools and a pool of ICT competent children, or else what we discuss here is superficial, to say the least.  Sisulu said the ICT landscape of government is encumbered by poor documentation, lack of single repository of citizen data, and no coherent view of national departments or provincial government,” Sisulu said.
“Individual national departments have not documented their environments efficiently. Provincial governments don’t have a coherent profile of their environment and neither is the environment documented. ICT maturity is uneven. Some departments and provinces are more sophisticated than others. In terms of capability and maturity, the majority of departments could be rated as basic – IT infrastructure provisioning is incoherent, uncoordinated and manual – with little or no automation in the environment,” the minister proclaimed.
 She said that our experience in our democracy has been varied and colorful at times. “That notwithstanding, it is without a doubt a story of success. At the same time it is journey of resilience, development and growth. But is also a story of unequal development and growing poverty. It is a story that we can be proud of, given our contribution to developments in the country,” she said.
 In conclusion, she urged all delegates to fully optimise the opportunity at this conference to be audacious, innovative, bold and visionary in their contributions to the debates.
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