Government blows R743,645 on redesigning Digitech “app store” — with no way to download apps

The Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT) has revealed that it spent R743,644.95 to redesign its Digitech “digital products portal”.

However, despite featuring a “marketplace” for these digital products, there is no way to purchase anything or download any of the listed apps.

The site does not even include links to where you might access apps online or download them from the Google Play marketplace or Apple App Store.

For example, it includes a listing for an app called Moya — a legitimate locally-developed platform for reverse-billed data services, including data-free messaging, with over 10 million downloads on Google Play.

However, Digitech gives very little indication of who or what Moya is or where to download it.

Digitech’s revamp follows backlash in May 2022 about the site’s poor design.

Not only did it look dated and amateurish, it also allowed anyone to sign up for an account and upload any “product” to the platform, complete with promotional images and YouTube videos.

It did not take long for South Africans to poke fun at the system by uploading inappropriate media to it.

In July 2022, then Minister of Communications, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, said in response to a DA parliamentary question that the site was undergoing a redesign.

Ntshavheni also said it hadn’t cost a cent to develop the platform up to that point.

DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard recently submitted follow-up questions about the redesign, and communications minister Mondli Gungubele responded in writing.

Redesigned Digitech homepage (Click to enlarge)

Gungubele said his department had informed him the redesigned site launched on 30 March 2023.

Kohler Barnard had asked why the site was being redesigned and what features and improvements would be included.

“The old Digitech website did not meet DCDT specifications,” Gungubele stated.

“The security of the new Digitech site has been enhanced and new design has been implemented.”

DA spokesperson on the DCDT portfolio, Natasha Mazzone, slammed the Digitech redesign.

“What on earth is this website useful for?” she asked.

“Contracts such as these reek of possible corruption… [and] the DA has submitted further parliamentary questions to ascertain the reasoning for why so much of taxpayer money was spent on an irrelevant website”.

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Government blows R743,645 on redesigning Digitech “app store” — with no way to download apps