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SITA to ramp up access to digitised govt services

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 16 Feb 2024
SITA wants to bring government e-services onto a mobility platform.
SITA wants to bring government e-services onto a mobility platform.

The State IT Agency (SITA) is looking to increase the use of government e-services, bringing the utilisation of these services to five million citizens by the end of the 2023/2024 financial year.

This was revealed last week by board chairperson Kiruben Pillay, briefing Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Communications and Digital Technologies.

The IT agency and the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT) briefed MPs on the revised SITA annual performance plan 2023/24.

During the presentation, Pillay told committee members that as part of external-facing deliverables, SITA has approximately 170 e-services that are “hidden away in a very obscure website”.

As a result, SITA is looking to “surface” these onto a mobility platform. “We are trying to get utilisation up to five million,” he said.

“Those are the external services where customers actually will touch and feel the impact of SITA in outcomes terms.”

An entity of the DCDT, SITA sits as a central pillar of government's IT procurement arm. However, the agency has been plagued by challenges over the course of its more than 20-year history.

These include claims of corruption and mismanagement, time-consuming procurement processes, leadership instability and a clientele that is growing increasingly dissatisfied with the poor quality of service delivery. The auditor-general previously stated SITA is struggling to prevent irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

Pillay told the portfolio committee that the objective of digitising frontline government services is to try and “get government available on a phone”.

This, he said, is so that people can transact, interact and engage with government in the safety of their homes instead of having to travel long distances and stand in long queues to access services.

“We’ve been tracking our [usage] numbers, and they are still. The total number of users registered on the e-Gov portal are 313 866, but we had 13 751 registering in December 2023.

“The total number of users as at October 2023 was 1.3 million, which unfortunately, is only 2.4% of our population. This number should be closer to 80% to 90% of our population – similar to where the banking and cellular numbers are.”

According to Pillay, neighbouring countries have had far better gains, in terms of e-government services usage. “When we compare ourselves against them, we’re pretty much about 10 to 15 years behind.”

Detailing the most and least consumed government e-services, Pillay revealed KwaZulu-Natal’s eRecruitment Citizen portal is top of the list of the top five most consumed e-services.

It is followed by the SITA eRecruitment Citizen portal, as well as the Department of Basic Education’s e-Reissue and SACE online registration portals.

The least consumed government e-services are the e-Complaints portals for KwaZulu-Natal and Free State’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism, he revealed.