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The app designed for easy two-way communication between government and the public has been given the nod by two great continental bodies – the EU and AU.
The app, GovChat, is a platform that is the collective brainchild of the South African Local Government Association (Salga), Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) and Government Communication and Information System (GCIS). It allows government to send messages to the public at no cost and receive service delivery related messaging in return.
The chat platform has been recognised by the European Union (EU) and African Union (AU), which have invited the GovChat team to the sixth EU-Africa Business Forum on Monday, 27 November, in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
The forum will engage in a roundtable discussion on the digital economy, which will be headed by EU Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip and AU Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy Amani Abou-Zeid.
South Africa’s Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu on Wednesday said the acknowledgement of GovChat by multilateral partners confirms the enormous opportunities that exist in the ICT sector.
“We congratulate the GovChat team for their tremendous success, which demonstrates the high levels of social entrepreneurship that exist in our country. GovChat is a good example of the potential within our country’s technology industry, especially amongst our youth,” said Minister Zulu.
Together with all its partners, GovChat has developed a pilot platform, which enhanced the levels of engagement between citizens and councillors. All interactions on the platform are stored in a database, which is then used to create a real time visual dashboard.
GCIS and GovChat have been successfully working together since 20 April 2016, when a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed.
Six months after the soft launch, GCIS received the State IT Agency (SITA) Award for Local Government Innovation at the annual GovTech awards. Salga included GovChat into its Ward Councillor Induction Program and provided 10 000 councillor information data to integrate into the GovChat Platform so that citizens can immediately find their councillor and related content.
To date, Cogta’s Public Participation National Committee has requested for the platform to be implemented in all provinces. Recent requests have come from the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Free State provinces.
During October 2016, GovChat was invited by the African Union Commission to represent South Africa and Government Communications at the AU ICT Week in Abidjan, showcasing how the GovChat platform enables real time engagement between government and communities.
“We believe in open government partnerships and working with all partners to improve communities and look forward to the launch of the GovChat Android and iOS Apps in the first quarter of 2018,” said Minister Zulu.