Innovation Is Critical To Building State Capacity


    Innovation holds the key to the realisation of a Capable, Ethical and Developmental State, which is the most critical priority of the 6th Administration, said the Deputy Minister for Public Service and Administration, Dr Chana Pilane-Majake, in the Budget Vote Speech, delivered on 16 May 2023 in Cape Town.

    The Deputy Minister’s speech followed Minister Noxolo Kiviet’s on the same day. It focused on the Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI), the Government Employee Housing Scheme (GEHS), and the Government Employee Medical Scheme (GEMS).

    In the speech, the Deputy Minister provided an overview of the work of the CPSI during the 2022/23 financial year, highlighting several ground-breaking initiatives. These included developing a virtual Thusong Service Centre in partnership with the Office of the Premier of the Northern Cape Province.

    “A virtual Thusong Centre enables citizens to access [similar] services to those offered through the physical version, but without having to visit these centres physically,” the Deputy Minister explained.

    A similar co-creation approach to innovation was developed in partnership with the Gauteng Emergency Medical Services to explore efficient ways of managing planned patient transfers.

    According to Dr Chana Pilane-Majake, the desire to promote digital inclusion and youth participation in service delivery innovation has also sparked several innovative solutions. The partnerships between the CPSI, young innovators, and their organisations have resulted in the following service delivery innovations:

    • A Citizen Engagement Mobile Application, aptly named “A Let’s Talk”, was piloted in the two District Development Model (DDM)sites of OR Tambo and Waterberg Districts. This solution was developed by the young innovator, Mr Moepi Setona, and allowed for reporting service delivery problems and fostering communication between citizens, their councillors, and government officials.
    • The CPSI mentored several “hackathons” to support youth in developing solutions for the Public Sector. The CPSI engaged with youth nationwide, from Giyani in Limpopo to Springbok in the Northern Cape.
    • In 2022, the CPSI hosted six “Living Labs”, where learners from nine schools were introduced to 4IR skill sets, including Robotics and Coding—the second 4IR Expo will be on the 16th  and 17th  of June 2023.

    According to the Deputy Minister, a big part of the work of the CPSI involved advocating for the development of a culture of problem-solving and innovation. For this reason, Dr Pilane-Majake also acknowledged Ms Phuti Ragophala, also known as “Techno Granny”, who was specially invited to the session.

    Ms Phuti Ragophala is the Presidential recipient of the 2023 Order of the Boabab, Silver, awarded in recognition of her contribution to promoting innovation in education. Mme Ragophala, a retired school principal, has completed a course in coding and robotics and continues to inculcate the culture and practice of innovation among youth.

    “We also want to acknowledge the role played by Public Sector Innovation Ambassadors in extending the advocacy work of the CPSI,” said the Deputy Minister in recognition of Mme Ragophala.

    The Deputy Minister identified the need for the Public Sector to come up with a system for developing a “hack” culture, which will assist in finding solutions to some of the perennial service delivery challenges that the country continues to face.

    “The re-skilling of the current ICT personnel and in-sourcing of software developers will be a game changer in the Public Sector,” she proposed.