The State Information Technology Agency (SITA) will this year host the tenth instalment of the government technology Conference, which over the years became popularly known as GovTech. A premium Information and Communications Technology (ICT) platform for the leading thoughts and their associated innovations in the ongoing quest to find practical and progressive solutions to a developing nation using ICT tools, GovTech has been positioned to give participants value-for-money, be they partaking as sponsors or speakers, or merely attending as delegates.
This year's event will return to the Durban's Inkosi Luthuli International Convention Centre in KwaZulu-Natal, officially kicking off on Sunday 25 with the first plenary session scheduled for the following day before the Conference comes to culmination on Wednesday 28 October 2015.
A line-up of reputable local and international speakers is on the cards, all tuned to add to enriching the discussions and other interactions. To allow for maximum participation and intensive discussions, traditionally smaller break-away groups are organized into track sessions, each with its pertinent theme in support of the overall Conference theme to focus the content of the deliberations and streamline the resultant resolutions.
Organized under a theme – Partnering for Service Delivery and sub-themed Connecting Communities for Development and Growth, GovTech 2015 will reflect on the journey thus far travelled by South Africans both in the public and private sector spaces as they worked together through this and other fora to transform the enigma that was once ICT and make it responsive to societal challenges.
The South Africa Connect programme announced by the President in his State of the Nation Address this year and currently with its first phase in full swing, seeks to promote ease of access by ordinary citizens to government's and other basic services to improve the quality of life and promote growth prospects. Its success depends on the collaboration between the various sectors of the economy, the different spheres of government and the active support by the civil society.
In addition, anecdotal examples and case studies of initiatives to connect the communities abound, locally and across the borders. On the continent there are legends of the growing application of ICT solutions as communities indulge in new struggles to push back frontiers of poverty, inequality and hopelessness while opening up new possibilities. The traditional urban-rural divide is being blurred in the process and the previously excluded groups are brought nearer to the sources of services points, often without leaving the comfort of their homes.
With more countries in Africa continuing to record more than average economic growth rates, the decision to open the Conference to African success stories was warranted. A people-centred information technology supports growth, development and inclusiveness. Similarly growth in ICT has a causal link with improvement in social services, a proof that when technology wins, people do too and herein lies the value of partnerships.
Born at the turn of the 21th century amidst intense hysteria at the growing digital gap threatening to set apart the information rich societies from those so deprived, GovTech came to symbolize the ingenuity of the developing nations to rise to the occasion as they worked diligently to formulate home-grown responses to challenges identified in the millennium development goals which if left un-attended would adversely accentuate the divide between the developed and the developing nations.
A decade later the GovTech legacy has become legendary, and with constant annual meetings the Conference has spawned ideas and actions that continue today to influence policy direction and contribute to a developmental agenda, not least of which is service delivery improvement to create a prosperous, equal and working society. The programme and the content at the 2015 event will celebrate life altering break throughs in people's daily lives, all thanks to technology and its ramifications.
Given the history of GovTech, the 2015 event is worthy of a celebration and the introduction of the e-Awards in the make-up of the Conference's programme is a fitting tribute to the critical milestones reached since the dawn of the concept. With each recognition, the aim is to encourage continuous development in thought and actions – an intervention which it is believed will help bring GovTech closer to the realization of its stated vision, being to "establish the Conference as South Africa's prominent public sector ICT learning event and provide a world class platform for collaboration, capacity building and information sharing between government and the ICT sector."
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