SA: Technology can help build a more efficient government

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Technology can help build a more efficient, agile and responsive government that is truly by the people and for the people, says Communications Deputy Minister Pinky Kekana.

Kekana made the remarks at the opening of Think Summit Johannesburg held at Kyalami Race Track and International Conference Centre on Wednesday.

Hosted by International Business Machines (IBM) South Africa, the summit brought together experts in infrastructure, cloud, artificial intelligence, data and security to engage on how to put smart ideas to work.

Experts used the opportunity to showcase the evolution of mankind and machine with the focus on how their clients are putting ground breaking technologies to work to make the world a better place.

Addressing delegates, Kekana pointed out that the cornerstone of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) actually lies in the nation’s ability to conduct research and development (R&D) activities.

“Our ability to commercialise and patent solutions is absolutely critical. This is where government can improve but with the help of the private sector. Currently, with the competing budgetary interests in government, it is safe to say that a small amount of the fiscus is directed towards R&D as a nation. This is justifiable given the fact that we are by all account a developing nation.

“I would Iike us to explore this phenomenon… how do South African based companies like IBM help us develop our R&D capabilities, especially as we celebrate Youth Month, the private sector and government must address the issue of youth unemployment.

“For South Africa to rise, not as a spectator or consumer in this era, we need to ensure that we provide African designed solutions across the board. The world’s technology infrastructure supports about a trillion devices, if not more, big and small and for both personal and business use. South Africa has the capability to be competitive in such a realm,” Kekana said.

The Deputy Minister noted that a summit like Think Summit is valuable to South Africans, especially when looking at the challenges in this field.

“There are always challenges and they are still great. Security being at the top of my list and every other leader around the world who has the task of dealing with implementation. Then, there is the seemingly impossible task of supporting the billions and even trillions of connected devices through a stable network infrastructure,” the Deputy Minister said.

She urged the experts to keep the security, infrastructure and implementation as a core focus when discussing the full landscape of 4IR.

“We all know that the benefits of incorporating the 4IR into our lived experiences are significant, but we cannot ignore the risks and challenges that come with these developments. I believe that together, business and government, can achieve a positive lived experience of the 4IR, for all South Africans. I would like South Africans to be some of the first in the world to experience daily life the 4IR way.”