GovTech 2016 initiates SITA’s procurement transformation journey

GovTech 2016 initiates SITA’s procurement transformation journey

The State Information Technology Agency (SITA) closed this year’s Government Technology Conference (GovTech) with a firm commitment to streamline its processes to facilitate small, medium and micro enterprise (SMME) involvement in the public sector information and communications technology (ICT) requirements.

SITA chief-executive officer, Dr. Setumo Mohapi, made a bold promise in a plenary session on the last day of the prestigious event that the agency had embarked on a procurement transformation journey to support its mandate of developing SMMEs in the local ICT industry. 

“We need to help the small ones,” Dr. Mohapi exclaimed. “This is considering that the world grows from innovation that is developed in small rooms and then snapped up by larger companies and deployed in industry.”

Firstly, SITA will be developing a portal for SMMEs through which they will be able to share important feedback with the agency to improve its procurement experiences. 

Dr. Mohapi said that he encouraged its users to indicate where they thought SITA and its procurement process could be significantly improved. He, in turn, would take this to board for implementation.

“Tell us what we need to change, as well as what we are doing incorrectly,” he said. “The board wants a system that is free of corruption and fraud, and we are only able to achieve this if you provide us with feedback.”

The second intervention is the automation of SITA’s tendering process to improve the efficiency and accuracy, as well as lower the cost of related procedures.

He was joined on stage by Zeth Malele, a member of the SITA board of directors, who heads up a Board subcommittee that is geared at overseeing the successful implementation of these interventions. 

Malele said the agency would release a scorecard against which it would benchmark and present its performance to delegates at the next GovTech. 

“We want a transparent process that mirrors our own tender processes,” he said. 

SITA’s focus on developing SMME’s was a major focus at GovTech 2016, emphasizing the critical role that these important participants in the larger South African economy had to play in driving the innovation that is needed to build a robust digital South Africa.

The important role that ICT has to play in the developing SMMEs was brought to the fore in the same plenary session by Brigette Petersen, chief director: Corporate Services of the Department of Small Business Development. 

Petersen said that ICT, as a service-based industry, offered immense potential for SMME development, including in the rural and informal areas of the country. 

“These township enterprises also offer a beacon of hope to women, youth and those who have disabilities and who were previously excluded from the economy,” said Petersen.

She noted that the United Kingdom, People’s Republic of China and Germany were sound examples of economies that relied on vibrant SMMEs. 

In the United Kingdom, 99% of all businesses are made up of SMMEs, and employed up to 60% of the population, as compared to South Africa were only just over 40% of the population was employed. 

Nine out of 10 businesses in Europe were SMMEs. 

“This supports objectives of the National Development Plan (NDP) of creating 11-million jobs, of which 90% will be created by SMMEs, by 2030 in South Africa”, said Petersen as she draws comparisons to reveal the looming gap.

She reminded delegates that there was still much to be done, considering the many obstacles these companies faced. This includes a lack of infrastructure in rural areas and limited capacity to access markets.

“We need to do something now if we are going to achieve the objectives outlined in the NDP. The country gross domestic product will grow if we develop our SMMEs. Bear in mind that as many as 80 000 SMMEs contributed towards the tax base last year,” said Petersen.

She reminded delegates that while ICTs were enablers of business, many were unable to access them due to their costs, or limited computer-literacy skills, a point repeatedly raised by speakers and delegates during the conference. 

However, there are many stellar examples of where SMMEs had succeeded in supplying “e-government”-related services – pointing to the future role that ICT had to play in growing this important sector of the economy!