If ordinary South Africans are to benefit from the digital revolution, efforts have to be intensified.
That’s the word from Microsoft SA MD, Zoaib Hoosen, a keynote speaker at the opening of the Govtech 2017 conference in Durban.
“We are looking at an industry that is growing exponentially at a break-neck speed, doubling globally every two years,” he says.
“If you think of a tiny domino piece 30 years ago, it’s now grown into the size of the Tower of Pisa. In two years’ time, there will be another doubling. We have no time to lose.
“We cannot afford to be left behind.”
While the race to find meaningful digitally-based solutions for many of the country’s social challenges was never more intense, Hoosen says progress is being made on several fronts.
Among those outcomes are:
* A digital solution along with teacher training to help with the education of special needs learners so that they are no left behind in the school curriculum.
* The further development of the telemedicine sector which uses digital technology to interface with patients in far flung rural areas where basic medical care is limited and where costs per patient can be reduced by more than a quarter.
* Making Microsoft office software available to learners without charge.
“We are talking about trust and collaboration being the corner stones of going forward. It’s a matter of looking for solutions in a very different way. We have digital cloud platforms that could revolutionise the way we operate. I don’t think there is any excuse not to succeed.”
Dr Siyabonga Cwele, minister of telecommunications and postal services, says radical digital transformation is an imperative.
“We are no longer involved in talk shows at these events but finding the solutions that really matter.”
It was critical, he adds, to create platforms for ordinary people to speak to government about things that matter in their lives.
He says that the role of the State IT Agence (SITA) in the evolving of a knowledge economy is more profound than at any other time and that SMMEs are pivotal in the search for innovation and meaningful digital solutions.
“This is a clarion call for action,” says the minister, adding that it’s important that SITA’s work is accelerated and supported.
Dr Setumo Mohapi, CEO of SITA, says there is a need to ramp up and that people need to experience the impact of ICTs and ICT spend in the daily reality of their lives.
He also confirms that this GovTech will ensure digital planning roadmaps that have been collaboratively designed by SITA, government leaders and private sector captains of industry.
“What we are doing is abandoning ideas of a five-year plan, but rather looking at a year-to-year plan looking at how problems and issues have been addressed and solved over the preceding period of 12 months,” Mohapi says.