Service delivery in the public sector is an on-going topic of discussion, as it significantly affects each individual South African directly.
According to Mohamed Cassoojee, vice president and country manager for Software AG in South Africa, the only truly effective way to drive out efficient service delivery to South Africans is through mobile access. “It just isn’t possible to build enough physical customer service centres across our extremely diverse areas of population, where over 50 million people are spread out across our country’s expansive area,” explains Cassoojee.
Cassoojee goes on to say that a major hurdle to the effective rolling out of mobile service delivery solutions is the lengthy and complicated procurement process when trying to take a blanket approach to implementing these systems on a national level. “The solution to this is for municipalities to take on the project of mobile connectivity themselves, and this is something that we’re seeing happening more and more,” says Cassoojee.
“A great example of this is the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality (EMM), which has recently been the recipient of global accolades for its advancements in digitising service delivery.” Based on case studies such as EMM, mobile connectivity has proven to be a significant way for individual municipalities to fast track service uptake, by both government employees and the general public. These include basic services like water, sanitation and electricity, as well as more extensive services such as healthcare, education and skills development.
“Mobile is especially impactful on those who do not have the convenience of being located close to customer services and city centres, such as residents of rural areas,” continues Cassoojee. He explains that one of the biggest challenges facing effective service delivery in South Africa is that services are concentrated in metro areas.
“The result is a huge amount of the population coming into these metro areas in order to gain access to services, which the country is simply not prepared for from an infrastructure perspective. The solution to this challenge is mobile connectivity. It allow government to drive the required deliverables and services outward, thus creating the opportunity for many people to move back to rural areas, which can have an enormously positive knock-on effect on our strained and overcrowded cities,” Cassoojee explains.
The revolution of mobile connectivity in service delivery also carries vast benefits for government employees. “We are able to not only create and roll out mobile device applications for the public to access these services, but also facilitate verification that government is required to conduct, through utilising mobile device reporting systems,” says Cassoojee. “Field agents are able to immediately capture and process information, regardless of where they are, without having to be tied to an office with endless paperwork.”
“This also significantly reduces the need for rural residents having to make multiple trips to the city at inconvenient times and at a high cost. Government will essentially be able to take these services to the people, rather than the people having to request them.”
The potential for the expansion of service delivery through mobile connectivity is limitless, and Cassoojee predicts that if South African municipalities are able to follow the example of public sector mobile pioneers such as EMM, both government and the general public will be able to experience substantial improvements in the delivery of a vast range of much needed services.
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