South Africa requires specialised tech to solve problems: minister

The problems South Africa faces require specialised technologies to help resolve them, Public Service Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said in Cape Town on Tuesday.

“In present day South Africa we have challenges that require specific, and not generalised, off-the-shelf interventions to resolve, and so you fail us when you sweet-talk us into purchasing systems that do not enable us to build decent affordable homes for vulnerable citizens; do not empower our teachers to educate our children effectively for the future…,” she said.

In a speech prepared for delivery at the GovTech 2013 conference, Sisulu urged delegates to reflect on the urgent questions the country still faced after almost 20 years of democracy.

“How have the technologies we have adopted and procured as a state helped to accelerate service delivery to the masses of our people and to advance the attainment of a better life for all which we spoke about in 1994?” she asked

In terms of socio-economic development, it was also important to ask whether the government and the private sector had done enough to make sure the benefits of information and communications technology (ICT) benefited rural and urban people.

Sisulu said that a 10 percent increase in broadband penetration translated to an approximately 1.4 percent increase in the gross domestic product in low and middle income economies.

“The cost to communicate in South Africa is still ranked amongst the highest in the world and thus undermines access to the benefits of ICT’s and thus exacerbate poverty, inequality and unemployment.

“… Our government is determined to ensure that, as we take on our challenges head-on, we must recognise and support local technological advancement.”

Sisulu said that both the government and the private sector should buy South African products wherever possible.

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South Africa requires specialised tech to solve problems: minister