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February 3, 2020

SONA, then and now

By Ian Houvet, Director, Boxfusion

On the 9th of February 2019, President Ramaphosa delivered the most technophile State of the Nation Address this country has heard to date. Many working in the industry were excited to hear commitments to greater advances in EdTech and skills development so that South Africa can harness all the opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). As the President stated a year ago, “We choose to be a nation that is reaching into the future”. 

As the 2020 edition of SONA approaches, it’s interesting to consider how the public sector has advanced its digital agenda to date, with the understanding that digital transformation on a national scale takes considerable time and effort.

The change is coming

To that end, the President successfully implemented the Commission on the 4th Industrial Revolution. The Commission met in the middle of 2019 to put together a framework on how it will proceed with the country’s digital ambitions and is set to meet with the President in the coming weeks to discuss the plan of action going forward.

Furthermore, there has been an increase in the number of township incubator programmes, in partnership with the private sector and academic institutions, to see the country’s digital skills base grow and improve. These include the AppFactory internship programme and the Innovation Hub in Philippi.

While the much-anticipated spectrum auction is still underway, President Ramaphosa recently wrote in the Brookings Blog that it forms a critical part of the country’s ongoing economic reform package, with 5G already being rolled out to certain parts of the country. 

Behind the scenes

Besides these citizen-facing advances that have been implemented since SONA 2019, as one of the companies that is working alongside government in the digital transformation process, we at Boxfusion have been privy to some of the exciting developments taking place across the public sector.

These changes include important apps for citizens as well as improving back-office government processes through our Smartgov for Administration software. We’re seeing departments digitally enhance their submissions and leave processes for more efficient management of resources, while citizens can now access their local police stations and clinics with the My SAPS and Mpilo Healthcare apps respectively.

What lies ahead?

Transformation takes time, but these changes are happening where it matters most: within the halls of government offices. We’re looking forward to hearing The President deliver his 2020 SONA address, building on the commitments of SONA 2019 while continuing to enforce the improvements and change that drive South Africa’s digital agenda.