Ayanda Dlodlo, Minister of Public Service & Administration, South Africa

By Medha Basu

Women in GovTech 2018 Special Report.

How do you use technology/policy to improve citizens’ lives? Tell us about your role or organisation.

Through the work of the Center of Public Service Innovation of South Africa, particularly the Annual Public Sector Awards Programme, more and more public servants at the coalface of service delivery are increasingly challenging outdated ways of doing things that are no longer meeting the needs of our connected, sophisticated and informed citizens. They are pushing boundaries to move beyond the ordinary and to find new, extraordinary ways of delivering services.

More and more coders and developers are employed by government, many of them young people who are enterprising and responding to the fourth Industrial Revolution by developing innovative solutions in-house.

We continue to attract highly enthused and passionate youth across the lengths and breaths of our country through a series of hackathons. These hackathons provide tech-savvy youth with an opportunity to explore e-government solutions to improve citizen access to services.

This programme promises to open a new window of possibility for our government and citizens alike by exploiting the immense potential of mobile technologies to enhance citizens’ access to cost-effective services anytime, anywhere - thus defying spatial, demographic and socio-economic challenges. Some of the examples of such solutions address air pollution, children and women abuse, amongst others.

Not only do these innovations have the potential to save government millions of rands, most importantly, they clearly redefine service standards and improve service delivery. These innovations further demonstrate the hunger to be part of the change we want to see. They tell a story of a public sector that is capable of thinking progressively, and is solution-driven.

[blockquote]”These innovations further demonstrate the hunger to be part of the change we want to see.”[/blockquote]

What has been the most exciting thing that you worked on in 2018?

One of the most exciting projects we worked on in 2018 was the Public Service Hackathon. The event attracted over 500 young innovators from all over South Africa. We saw some excellent innovations that the government, through the Centre for Public Service Innovation, will incubate and scale up to sustainable levels of implementation.

If you were to share one piece of advice that you learned in 2018, what would it be?

We must harness and support the innovative energies of young people in your country. The youth has the ambition, the innovative thinking and the energy to radically transform the way in which governments are able to better serve their people.

We must also embrace the new technologies and innovation to position the public service to deliver services much more cheaply and effectively. The skills of the new generation are critical for such a technological innovation era.

What tool or technique particularly interests you for 2019?

The launch of GovChat holds some very exciting prospects for improving communication and cooperation between our people and their government. We foresee very strong growth prospects for GovChat on the African continent and that will go a long way towards open and transparent governance in Africa.

What are your priorities for 2019?

Our ambition for 2019 is to fast track the implementation of the e-government strategy to create a paperless public service in South Africa. We must use new technologies to improve the manner and speed of delivering essential public services to our people.

We also want to implement our youth and new graduate recruitment program across the public service without delay. The drive will enhance our efforts to develop skills and build the public service of the future through the on-the job-training and development strategy as envisaged in the National Development Plan. In this way, we will move a step closer in positioning the public service as an employer of choice.
“In this way, we will move a step closer in positioning the public service as an employer of choice.”
What is one skill that has helped you the most throughout the course of your career?

I am an open minded person who listens, and is prepared to learn new ways of doing things everyday. I read a lot across all spectrums of knowledge and disciplines including law, policy, management, leadership and general life skills and adaptation strategies.

What advancements do you predict will happen in your field in the next ten years?

The public service will become younger and more tech-savvy. Our work will focus more on new technologies and innovation solutions in service delivery. Above all, we will be more professional and attractive to young graduates who are interested in a career in the public service.

Coffee, yoga, music… what powers you through your day?

A cup of cappuccino keeps me going for the better part of my hectic schedule.