By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 3 Nov 2017
Cabinet has given government’s national ICT strategies the seal of approval, and they are now waiting to be gazetted.
Delivering resolutions of a 1 November meeting, yesterday communications minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said the national executive approved the national e-strategy, national e-government strategy and roadmap, as well as the ICT small, medium and micro-sized enterprise (SMME) development strategy.
The critical ICT strategies, put forward by the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS), stem from the National Integrated ICT Policy White Paper that was published last year.
The telecoms ministry also considers these strategies as critical for the implementation of the National Development Plan goal of creating an information society and knowledge economy.
According to DPTS, the e-strategy talks to how the country can use technology and how it can participate in the Internet economy, while the e-government strategy and roadmap talks to how government can use technology to improve service delivery.
ICT SMME support strategy is one that aims to unlock business opportunities and create an enabling business and administrative environment for small businesses in the ICT sector.
In April, the DTPS published the strategies for public comment. In an interview with ITWeb, DTPS director-general Robert Nkuna confirmed the strategies were ready to be submitted to Cabinet for approval.
Department spokesperson Siya Qoza says public comments were incorporated into the strategies that went to Cabinet. “The approval means the strategies are final and can be gazetted to give legal effect to them. So, the next step is to have them published in the Government Gazette.”
Following the publication of the ICT White Paper last year, the telecoms department has been committed to implement the strategies featured in the policy document.
Government has described the policy as a framework to provide access to modern communications infrastructure, facilitate the entry of new players into the ICT industry and meaningful participation of all citizens.
According to the Cabinet statement, the e-strategy articulates a shared vision and paradigm shift from information society to a knowledge economy and society. It also addresses challenges, including a digital divide between the rich and poor, between racial groups, different geographical locations and gender issues.
“It provides a platform for South Africans to integrate technology, which is relevant and related towards advancing development and economic prosperity for the benefit of society as a whole.”
Government is looking to the e-government strategy for digital transformation within public services and to enable the provision of improved quality of services while tapping into digital technologies.
“The strategy targets, among others, fragmentation of e-government initiatives and duplication of processes, databases, large-scale system incompatibilities and inefficiencies. It will also increase the usage of ICTs, foster innovation in technologies and applications for e-government.”
The South African government has been committed to drive advancement of SMMEs, especially in the ICT sector, to boost the country’s economy.
The Cabinet decision to approve the SMME development strategy will enable government intervention to address challenges facing these companies operating in the ICT sector.
The strategy proposes interventions to accelerate the development and growth of small enterprises in the ICT sector, while facilitating an increase in the levels of uptake and usage of ICTs by the general small business sector, according to Cabinet.
“The strategy aims to support start-up ICT enterprises, strengthen existing enterprises and extend support to potentially viable SMMEs.”