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Opportunity for SA to drive e-government

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Departments across the public sector are planning to introduce e-government services with the objective of improving information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure in South Africa. To achieve this, there will be an increased investment in software licenses, specialised computer services, system advisers, and system development.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, ICT Spend in South Africa: Public Sector, finds that the public sector saw an ICT spend of $615,9-million in 2014 and estimates this to reach $707,6-million in 2019. Managed services, combined with fixed and non-cellular connectivity, accounted for 73,1% of these investments.

“South Africa’s National Development Plan, the National Integrated ICT Policy Green Paper, and the Broadband Policy are expected to drive the development and uptake of e-government services,” says Frost & Sullivan ICT industry analyst Naila Govan-Vassen. “ICT spend will centre around updating IT hardware and data centres and on supporting systems integration, especially within the health, education and administrative departments.”

Despite government awareness of the importance of and need for digitisation, current expenditure is mainly limited to day-to-day ICT requirements across national and provincial departments. Creating a fully digital government is challenged by:

* Legacy systems necessitating upgrades;

* Limited infrastructure investment to connect all public sector buildings;

* Lack of a co-ordinated plan to enforce ICT standards and ensure interoperability within national and provincial departments;

* Security concerns surrounding shared and cloud computing services;

* Shortage of skilled resources; and

* Limited Internet reach and citizen access to online content, preventing two-way interaction with the government.

“Defining clear roles for ICT agencies and building partnerships with the private sector will be crucial to this endeavour,” says Govan-Vassen. “The breadth of knowledge and expertise that the private sector can bring on board will complement the government’s commitment to strengthen ICT integration and accelerate digitisation in the South African public sector.”