By Selina Rapulane – 06 April 2021
During February and March, the VUT E-Skills CoLab, in partnership with the National Electronic Media Institute of South Africa (NEMISA) presented various workshops on Digital Transformation for Government officials to various Northern Cape and Gauteng Government departments. These workshops included topics such as an Overview of Digital Transformation, Digital Government and Transformative Technologies.
The workshops were presented online through MS Teams and Zoom platforms, due to Covid-19 regulations.
The significance of these workshops was to train and empower government employees on digital transformation, making them aware of what digital transformation is, how it can be implemented and how it can be of benefit to their respective government departments.
“While the term digital transformation has become a new “buzz” word, true digital transformation does not come in a box or happens overnight. It is the culmination of more than just technology and the adoption of technology, it’s a new way of thinking and a change management process that embraces disruption and technology to drive innovation and new processes”, said Mrs Antoinette Lombard, Director NEMISA VUT CoLab.
She added that, Digital Transformation in our country, and training government officials as a starting point, is of utmost importance and it is re-iterated in the words of Dr Raven Naidoo: “Government needs to understand digital transformation in order to ascertain the opportunities and risks that lie ahead as well as the impact that transformative technology has on the changing role of government services, infrastructure, and to address the risks inherent”.
One of the workshop participants, Mr Rod Grewan from the Department of Economic Development and Tourism in the Northern Cape, expressed the following insightful words regarding the workshops; “The impact of digital transformation on society, was highlighted by the United Nations (UN) in 2003, when the UN convened the World Summit on Information Society. The intervening years, have seen dramatic changes in society and their respective economies, due, in large part, to ICTs and broadband connectivity. The advent of COVID 19 and the advance of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, has further emphasized the need for society to understand the impact of digitalization. The Digital Transformation workshop provides a deeper insight into the fundamental shifts, in society and the economy, being brought about by digitalization”.
“Key opportunities for government include increased efficiency of public services, data-driven decision making, productivity improvements from automation and increased collaboration between government and its citizens. Government, additionally, has to address the challenges digital transformation generates, including policy making regarding evolving technologies, ethical concerns, inequality and access, and unemployment or underemployment caused by automation”, further stated Mrs Lombard.
Digital Transformation is one of the courses offered by the Northern Cape/Southern Gauteng CoLab, hosted at The Vaal University of Technology (VUT). The course was developed by the University of the Western Cape and consists of six modules. These modules include: An Overview of Digital Transformation, Digital Government, Transformative Technologies, Societal Inclusion, Citizen Centric Design and Big Data.
The workshops were presented by expert facilitators in the various fields including Dr Leona Craffert: Overview, Prof Fanie Cloete: Digital Government, and Dr Raven Naidoo: Transformative Technologies.
The VUT CoLab and other CoLabs from different provinces are seen as the front runners when it comes to training of government employees in the field of digital transformation.
Key stakeholders in this initiative included; Northern Cape/Southern Gauteng CoLab, Nemisa, University of the Western Cape, Department of Education, Department of Human Settlements, Gauteng Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation, Department of Community Safety, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Office of the Premier Gauteng, Department of Economic Development and Tourism, Department of Environment and Nature Conservation, Northern Cape Office of the Premier, Local Government, Department of Social Development, Provincial Treasury, and Department of Roads and Public Works.
The CoLab will host another series of workshops on Digital Transformation in the new Financial Year starting 1 April 2021.