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Govt intros ‘app store’ to promote proudly South African tech

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Communications and digital technologies minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni.
Communications and digital technologies minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni.

Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni says the new DigiTech platform is going to be Africa’s first “app store”, made by the South African government, available not only to applications in the country but applications across the region.

Ntshavheni spoke yesterday at the official launch of the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies’ (DCDT’s) digital platform at Gallagher Convention Centre.

The launch comes as the ICT sector commemorates World Telecommunication and Information Society Day 2022, with the theme this year focusing on “digital technologies for older persons and healthy ageing”.

Supported by the DCDT, DigiTech is described as a platform for digital products/applications developed by SMMEs in South Africa.

The platform serves as a digital distribution service developed, maintained and operated by the South African government.

Users will be able to browse and download approved apps developed across operating systems, with the aim to further promote South African-developed digital products/apps to expand their adoption and use.

The platform currently features music and locally-produced content app The Godfathers Of Deep House, NxaTel, social media app HN CitiPages, riot.network and medical resource platform Guardian Health, to name a few.

Ntshavheni told the audience the platform is an effort to make sure government is the first consumer for those that are innovating their own products and digital applications.

The minister pleaded with ICT industry stakeholders to support local products that are on the platform, saying: “This platform will not work or achieve its objective if all of us don’t support it.

“As government, we are making moves and we’ll go to Cabinet and take decisions on certain applications that we can use that are part of the platform and others that will join. Cabinet will make the necessary announcements.

“Part of localisation in the ICT space means the innovations and technologies that are done in this country must be used by this government.”

DCDT officials and minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni interact with one of the tech entrepreneurs whose products were on display at the DigiTech launch event.
DCDT officials and minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni interact with one of the tech entrepreneurs whose products were on display at the DigiTech launch event.

DCDT deputy minister Philly Mapulane, who also attended the launch event, explained the National Development Plan (NDP) sets an ambition that visualises an estimated 90% of expected 11 million new jobs by 2030 being unlocked by SMMEs.

“In order to realise this ambition of the NDP, deliberate interventions need to be made, particularly in the technology sector,” he stated.

“As part of its contribution to unlocking this opportunity for real and sustainable jobs for SMMEs, the department has developed the DigiTech portal. Through this portal, we seek to promote South Africa’s own-developed products in other markets, while facilitating partnerships with other organisations on the core promotion of local technologies.”

Mapulane indicated DigiTech is a government portal that markets home-grown, indigenous local applications.

“This portal will be used to promote local applications for use by government and equally market them to the public. This not only raises awareness of the concept of local digital products, but supports smart government and encourages people to adopt smart services.”

According to Ntshavheni, South Africans cannot only be spectators of the digital economy, as the country needs to be an equal player.

She also challenged the audience to consciously support products made in SA. “Africa is going to be the largest market in the next 10 years. The African market cannot consume that which is not made in Africa.”

The minister indicated the department will announce the platform’s expansion into the SADC region, as well as across Sub-Saharan Africa, around September.

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