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MEC puts collaboration at forefront to connect communities

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 08 Oct 2021
Nomusa Dube-Ncube, MEC for finance in KwaZulu-Natal.
Nomusa Dube-Ncube, MEC for finance in KwaZulu-Natal.

Connectivity is no longer a “nice to have”, it is essential in this digital age, says Nomusa Dube-Ncube, MEC for finance in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).

Dube-Ncube was headline speaker at the first KZN chapter of the Public Sector ICT (PSICT) Forum event, which was held under the theme: “Collaboration as a driver for digital transformation in the public sector”.

The MEC toldattendees, who joined online and in-person, that the global pandemic showed the importance of being connected, as people continued to work from home and learners studied remotely.

She highlighted that among the pain points discovered about KZN is that only about 11% of communities in the province have internet access, describing the situation as very sad.

“Connectivity is an essential part of our lives,” she emphasised. “For businesses, we now know that you can do business wherever you are and with everybody in the world. You don’t need to take a flight to somewhere in the world to sell your business.

“Now, you can do your business in your own home − only if you are connected and able to use technology to your advantage.”

Dube-Ncube said the fact that the country is going to the polls for local government elections next month and some KZN communities remain without connectivity is cause for concern.

The MEC explained that when she questioned the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) about how it will conduct its work in areas where there is no connectivity, the IEC said it will ask mobile operator companies for connectivity.

“That is only for one day…it can’t be that where it’s possible for our people to have connectivity access, we aren’t able to provide this much-needed resource.

“It makes me wonder why we, as government and the private sector, can’t create an enabling environment for collaboration for the sake of our communities and for the sake of providing effective service delivery in our communities, so that all our people can enjoy this much-needed resource of connectivity.”

Initiated in September 2016, the PSICT Forum is a platform for C-level public sector IT professionals to engage and discuss topics that are key to innovation in service delivery.

For the KZN chapter, the forum sought to examine how collaboration can lead to enhanced service delivery, the streamlining of resources and reductions in state expenditure.

The MEC noted that if the public sector is to achieve some of the United Nations objectives, as well as some of those aimed at growing the country’s economy, there really needs to be strong focus on collaborations.

“It is important for us as government and business to be striving towards ensuring citizens have access, but also that their connectivity is affordable and fast.”

From a KZN perspective, the province envisions having a vibrant, innovative and fully-inclusive knowledge-base that will come up with strong ICT and digital innovations for local and global challenges, she said.

“We have worked very hard to establish some of the ICT hubs around KZN. We are forging partnerships between the public and private sectors to ensure we provide a province that is smart, with digitally-transformed communities, and able to meet the goals in the National Development Plan.”