Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) aims to provide 100% of its services digitally in the near future.

This is one of the goals of the Gauteng’s 4IR Growth and Digitalisation Strategy, launched today along with the opening of the Gauteng Centre of Excellence (GCoE) Innovation Centre.

The strategy was developed by a 4IR advisory panel working for the Gauteng department of e-government, and aims to prepare the GPG for an expected migration to digital systems.

It builds on the premise that data is regarded as the new oil driving evidence-based decision support, and it critical to the creation of new business opportunities, says Advocate Pieter Holl, stream lead of the Gauteng Provincial 4IR Panel and CEO of The Innovation Hub.

The new strategy rests on six pillars:

* Digital infrastructure technologies that will provide meaningful connectivity to support new businesses, underpinned by data to support decision-making and business opportunities.

* Smart procurement to drive transparency, value for money, better competition, ethics and fair dealing, and maximising accountability.

* A strategy for competitiveness and growth, supported by well-functioning data-driven e-government to support citizens and businesses. The strategy document also recommends the adoption of technologies that can increase competitiveness.

* Support, development and innovation, including the critical role of 4IR research, infrastructure for digital government – particularly service delivery – as well as private sector involvement and social innovation.

* Future skills, concerned with the development of the skills to position workers and citizens for the future of work.

* 4IR governance issues, recommending new approaches to technology in the context of a rapidly-changing world.

Holl says quick wins under the new strategy are expected to include the establishment of a data office, the improvement of e-government services and access to them; improved spend as a result of e-procurement, the establishment of a city-region 4IR sandbox; and a skills panel in partnership with public and private sector.

The new GCoE innovation centre is an early deliverable on the strategy, It was developed in partnership between Gauteng provincial government and Microsoft, and aims to contribute towards ICT skills development for the youth of Gauteng.

The GCoE is an Innovation centre that will provide ICT training aligned to the Forth Industrial Revolution. It will benefit small medium enterprises (SMEs), the youth as well as employees of the Gauteng Provincial Government.

So far, the centre has introduced several ICT programs and training offered to the youth and SMMEs across the five regions of Gauteng in a form of workshops, online training, bootcamps etc.

The centre will provide a learning environment for technological developments, youth work readiness programs as well as equip them with various accredited programmes that will give them an upper hand when seeking opportunities.

Lillian Barnard, CEO of Microsoft, comments: “The opening of this centre is a culmination of many years of collaboration, and is designed to support and accelerate skills development.

“The journey is a long one, but we believe that a culmination of partnerships, training and real word experience we can build a knowledge based economy that leaves no-one behind.”

She adds that technology will play a critical role in enabling an inclusive economic recovery and will be a driver behind South Africa’s growth because of the opportunities it unlocks in all sectors.

“Companies and employees are increasingly aware that digital skills are paramount to be relevant and employable,” Barnard says. “As South Africa moves into the 4IR and cloud computing becomes ubiquitous, GPG has released the need to accelerate digitalisation and skills – and is investing in programmes to empower the youth.”

Artificial intelligence (AI) is going to be key, Barnard adds. To this end, Microsoft will roll out its AI curriculum to all universities in the province.

“We will build vibrant ecosystems, working with GPG and startups to develop solutions for government.”

The company is also announcing an apprenticeship programme to develop a strong pipeline of work ready software developers.