Is Bureaucracy stifling SA government’s technology efforts?

Bureaucracy in South Africa’s government is holding it back from adopting technology more quickly to help boost service delivery.

This is according to David Mphelo (pictured), who is networking technology firm Cisco’s executive director for public sector business in South Africa.

Cisco is in a bid to work with South Africa’s government and private sector to help roll out what the company calls ‘the internet of everything’: a concept that envisages connecting the likes of cars, traffic lights, buildings and even trees.

According to a Cisco study, the internet of everything may generate $14.3 billion in value for South Africa’s public sector over the next decade.

But question marks exist over the South African government’s seriousness regarding technology adoption.

South Africa, for example, has had a string of failed communications ministers, has missed a series of digital migration deadlines and the country is late among its African peers in terms of putting together a national information and communications technology (ICT) policy framework.

However, Mphelo pinpoints what he says is a more specific challenge regarding South Africa’s lack of technology adoption.

“The biggest hurdle we have with government is bureaucracy,” Mphelo told ITWeb Africa at a press briefing in Johannesburg on Tuesday night.

The Cisco official went on to say that government has got the strategies and a plan of action, but he noted “the policies and bureaucracies stand in their way.”

Mphelo further explained that local governments in Gauteng’s metropolitan areas such as Ekurhuleni and Johannesburg have the likes of broadband networks and strategies.

Yet Mphelo said these networks are not used to full capacity, while the strategies are not implemented.

“It’s not that they don’t have the money or the will, or (that) they’ve not planned for it. In certain cases, they’ve got the asset base,” Mphelo said.

“The next level is government is not talking to itself. They’re silos. Police don’t talk to the metros, the metro police don’t talk to central police. Why? Bureaucracy again.

“And all that boils down to policy.

“When you start breaking those walls and get the government collaborating with itself, we’ll see a lot of this coming into fruition,” said Mphelo.

Mphelo’s comments have come as; coincidently, the first meeting of South Africa’s national broadband council has taken place. South Africa’s government has a goal of achieving universal broadband access in the country by 2020.

South African technology analyst and managing director of World Wide Worx Arthur Goldstuck — who also attended the Cisco media event on Tuesday night — noted that the national broadband council meeting planned to bring together private and public players.

But Goldstuck was cautious about whether initiatives such as this could help spur on greater technology adoption by South Africa’s government.

Goldstuck said that even though ‘internet of everything’ technology could become available to the likes of South Africa’s Johannesburg city managers, questions exist about whether it would, for instance, be adopted properly to assist with broken traffic lights.

“It’s such an obvious use of the internet of things, but we don’t see any systems that are remotely close to being adopted or embraced by the likes of the Johannesburg city,” said Goldstuck.

“So, even if the broadband policy falls into place and we have universal broadband in 2020, the Joburg municipality still isn’t going to have our robots working, despite technology being available for that,” Goldstuck added.

It isn’t all doom and gloom regarding the South African government’s apparent apathy towards technology adoption though.

Cisco South Africa managing director Alpheus Mangale is upbeat that the internet of everything could in future help the country’s government with service delivery in areas such as education, health and even the judiciary.

“We are talking to our government,” said Mangale.

“We would like to see the internet of everything become a reality in South Africa: both from the government and public-centric services, and also from corporate-centric services.

“And I can see that become a reality in South Africa,” said Mangale.

Originally Posted here

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