To achieve the objectives of the Local Government Turnaround Strategy (LGTAS) of improving service delivery, increasing efficiency, accountability and responsiveness in government, a citizens-centred integrated information and communication technology (ICT) system and e-Government is one of the key interventions South African local government requires.
Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Sicelo Shiceka, said this following a successful meeting with the Flemish Minister for Administrative Affairs, Local and Provincial Government Civil Integration and Tourism, Mr Geert Bourgeois yesterday. This was the third day of Minister Shiceka's working visit to Belgium to investigate how ICT solutions can be leveraged to improve service delivery and accountability at local government.
The meeting was an opportunity for Minister Bourgeois, whose department is responsible for e-Government, to share experiences and lessons with Minister Shiceka on Belgium's journey in leveraging ICT to make their municipalities more efficient and effective at delivering services and involving citizens in government, which started 20 years ago.
"Taking into account the lessons we are learning, I strongly believe that in South Africa, instead of the Personal Computer and the lap-top which are the main channel used in Belgium for bringing into effect e-Governance, in South Africa the cellphones and other channels that take into consideration the peculiar socio-economic and developmental challenges of the country, would make better sense," says Minister Shiceka.
Minister Bourgeois discussed the advantages of integrating ICT systems and platforms among municipalities for standardisation, collaboration and to maximise on economies of scale. The country has used municipal websites built on common ICT platforms as a window into each municipality to specifically improve service delivery, involve citizens and build communities.
Minister Shiceka has met with representation for the Federal Government of Belgium's e-Government arm, FEDICT, which is responsible for creating e-Government and ICT synergy at federal level; as well as the Flemish e-Government Co-ordination cell, CORVE, which is charged with developing and running ICT projects for an accessible, demand-driven and simplified integrated public service in Flanders, a region of Belgium.
Today he is due to lead his delegation in a meeting with the leadership of the Inter-Municipal ICT service Centre, CIPAL, whose responsibility includes the promotion and application of ICT in the public sector. CIPAL is an independent government ICT agency.
The delegation with the Minister includes the Free State Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC, Mr Mosebenzi Zwane and his Head of the Department, Mr Kopung France Ralikontsane, a senior researcher from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Dr Thato Foko, the Chief Executive of South African Local Government Association (SALGA), Mr Xolile George and the Acting Director-General of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs nationally, Mr Elroy Africa.