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GovChat ready to ‘assist SASSA where needed’

Read time 3min 40sec
GovChat founder and CEO Eldrid Jordaan.
GovChat founder and CEO Eldrid Jordaan.

Government’s official citizen engagement platform, GovChat, is open to other opportunities to assist the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA).

So says Eldrid Jordaan, founder and CEO, speaking ahead of participating in the European Union GovTech Summit 2020.

GovChat has processed nearly 500 000 SASSA frequently asked questions (FAQs) queries about the COVID-19 Social Relief in Distress (SRD) grant, since stepping into assist the social security agency. It has also received over 4.2 million SRD grant applications.

In line with this partnership, Jordaan reveals that GovChat is working with the SASSA team to make it easier for more citizens to access other social security measures that government may implement in the foreseeable future.

With regards to “possible” new ventures with SASSA, he says GovChat has demonstrated the knowledge and technical capability to build, maintain and handle enterprise-level functionality, with security being at the core of the process.

“There are a number of opportunities, including, but not limited to, supporting new grant applications, verifying identity, status updates and cross-validating across multiple data-points. There are a lot of opportunities; we’re here to assist SASSA where needed.”

Launched in 2018, GovChat is the official communications platform for government. It was introduced in partnership with the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and the Independent Electoral Commission.

It acts as a centralised hub that brings all government and civic services together through conversational artificial intelligence accessible via WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, SMS and USSD.

GovChat recently processed over 240 million messages.

Global stage

Last month, the citizen engagement platform received international recognition from the United Nations Children's Fund, signing a deal with the children's rights advocacy organisation to advance child protection, youth engagement and social policy initiatives in SA.

Today, it is among other global tech innovators that have been invited to participate at this year’s GovTech Summit.

The virtual event, which is supported by French president Emmanuel Macron, brings together innovators with Europe’s leading public sector decision-makers to rethink how governments can operate and thrive in the new post-COVID-19 world.

GovChat will be sharing the platform with former UK prime minister Tony Blair, as well as Nikolai Astrup, minister of local government and modernisation in Norway; Cédric O, secretary of state for digital and telecommunications in France; and Nima Elmi, head of government affairs at the World Economic Forum.

Jordaan says he is extremely excited to be included in the summit, saying this is testament to the strong partnership that GovChat and the South African government have built, while showing results from the significant investment made in digitising government services for the benefit of South African citizens.

“GovChat has demystified civic engagement by developing a citizen-centric platform that is inclusive and enables digital connection to government services. Our mission has become all the more critical with the ‘new normal’ world that we all find ourselves in. I’m excited to share my views on how technology assists in the skilling-up of governments.

“We also view it as an opportunity to showcase what South Africans can build if we work collaboratively. This is technology that is having an impact on the way we experience government, and providing access to critical services using our platform as a channel.

“More than the GovChat brand, participating in this conference is a nod to the South African government’s progressiveness. Through the technology that we have co-created, GovChat and the South African government are demonstrating the possible future model for public-private partnerships,” notes Jordaan.

“Few governments around the world have leveraged platforms like GovChat’s data and insights to ensure decisions are driven by real-time data. It demonstrates a turning-point, where South Africa is turning into a modern government by making data-driven decisions.”

GovChat’s global growth plans will see the platform’s user base increase, assisting even more people to access essential services in their countries, concludes Jordaan.

To join the GovTech Summit event, click here.

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