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Govt, IT firms need closer collaboration

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Under the theme of "Collaborate, Innovate and Deliver", SITA's Govtech conference kicked off in Durban this morning with SITA CEO, Llewellyn Jones saying it is critical to get government working more closely with the private sector on delivering large, complex projects.

A closer partnership between the public and private sectors would also help to mitigate the crucial shortage of ICT skills in the country, Jones adds.
According to Jonas Bogoshi, CEO of GijimaAst, GovTech’s main sponsor, “a new approach to planning, procurement and implementation of ICT projects by the public sector is needed to ensure the successful delivery of projects and the sustainable leveraging of new technology frontiers."
Bogoshi adds: "It is also necessary to simultaneously stimulate the development of a local industry capable of competing with established and emerging ICT giants globally. The conference is a particular help in driving public service transformation and enhancing the strategic role of procurement in enabling public sector service delivery.”
Bogoshi says it is vital to continuously develop and grow technology to meet the needs of South Africans while ensuring that projects are completed on time and in line with a broader national strategy.This is why particular emphasis must be paid to the final aspect of the GovTech theme, namely that of delivery, he says.
“There is a need to differentiate between simple traditional procurement and strategic procurement," Bogoshi says. "Simple procurement is appropriate for known products with fairly simple and known functionality.Experience has shown that normal or traditional procurement processes are inappropriate for complex strategic projects – like government’s Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) or even Home Affairs’ ‘Who Am I Online’.In this situation, procurement needs to foster partnership for the sharing of risks and rewards between the supplier and the customer.A more strategic partnership will enable quicker realisation of benefits by the customer.”
Government support of the ICT sector is also vital, he adds, as the majority of IT companies around the globe continue to grow because they are able to spend money on research and development, banking on continued support from their governments.
"South Africa does face its own unique challenges, including a shortage of skills and although this is prevalent throughout the world, the shortages here are more acute," Bogoshi says. "Another problem is that the industry is too fragmented – too many small companies in a sector where only the big players have the financial wherewithal to spend reasonable sums on research and development. These issues highlight the importance of GovTech, which is unique in that it allows for both private and public sector organisations to come together in order to share best practices while finding solutions to the problems plaguing the sector."