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STATEMENT BY THE RT HON PRIME MINISTER

 

DR B.SIBUSISO DLAMINI

 

AT THE OFFICIAL LAUNCH OF THE e-GOVERNMENT STRATEGY AND e-GOVERNMENT LOGO

 

AT THE ROYAL VILLAS, EZULWINI

 

MONDAY 3 JULY 2017

 

Honourable Ministers

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident  

Representative

MTN Swaziland Chief Executive Officer,

Other esteemed ICT sponsors and stakeholders

Invited Guests

Representatives of the Media

Ladies and Gentlemen

It is my honour, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, to welcome you all today to this launch of the e-Government Communication Strategy and e-Government logo.

Change is an inevitable feature in the passage of time.  It is a permanent phenomenon. It can be good or bad, natural or man-made.  Of the latter, much has had an enormously  beneficial impact on mankind and the further development of the good components of society.  The changes are too many to mention here but in generic terms we can give two prime examples - the Industrial Revolution and the Digital Revolution.

The Industrial Revolution brought a vast amount of mechanisation that included the steam and internal combustion engines, and a whole range of manufacturing processes that transformed economies and the standard of living, and style of life, for people all across the world.

The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Revolution, almost two centuries later, brought a huge amount of change in the way society functions – from the recording of business transactions to the use of bar codes in the supermarket, and internet banking to pay the family bills, to name just a few.  Online retailing is pursuing a massive takeover of the way in which people do their shopping.  It is predicted that in ten years’ time we will not even be carrying debit or credit cards, let alone cash.  The advances being achieved through digital innovation in such areas as medicine, science and crime detection are quite phenomenal.

Most of the change from the ICT, or some might say Digital, Revolution is good, and where it is bad it is invariably the use of it, rather than the  technology itself, that is to blame.  I do hope, for instance, that when youngsters are using tablets at home, their parents actively encourage them to read e-books to increase knowledge and oral and writing skills, and not devote time exclusively to playing e-games.

Today, we are celebrating a defining moment of change as we move to the next level in the programme to apply digital technology to Government processes. In 2013, Government launched the e-Government Strategy 2013 to 2017, which has aimed to improve our public services as much as possible, and with the assistance of ICT.  We need to maintain pace in our developments in the digital sphere while at the same time ensuring that the e-Government foundational requirements are consistently in place and meeting international standards.

The practical impact of the e-Government Strategy, in the first instance, was the launch of the Mobile Government platform, known as *468#, which has allowed citizens and business to track the progress of any one of many kinds of applications made to Government institutions.  This initially involved the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Commerce Industry and Trade.  From that base we introduced, across the Ministries, other mobile Government and on-line applications.  These have been working well but, for their more extensive utilization, Government has seen the need to develop a comprehensive communication strategy to promote and market e-Government services. 

In so doing, we will actively expose, to citizens and the business

Community, the benefits brought by the technology.  Creating demand, where none previously existed, is very much the hallmark of the ICT Revolution simply because unfamiliarity with the processes has caused many individuals to overlook adopting them.  As the saying goes - what the eye does not see, the mind does not miss.

 

Hence the launch of the new e-Government Communication Strategy, in which we will be saying that our on-line services allow a transaction to be processed any time – in modern parlance 24/7/365 – or 366 in a leap year! And this will be possible from any location, without having to go to a Government building.   “Anytime and anywhere” is the promise.  It is very difficult to miss that!  We do trust that the very appealing e-Government logo, also being launched today, is of great assistance in conveying the key message about the ICT services available to our people and business community.

Today, two ongoing digital services have been demonstrated to us – the Provisional Company Registration Process, and the Client Management Information System (CMIS).  The latter is part of the e-Health being introduced in Swaziland in accordance with the World Health Assembly resolution of 2005.  The CMIS itself involves the collection of individual medical data to inform the appropriate health care for the patient.  All medical records are stored securely in the CMIS, and the system provides a highly streamlined service with rapid and accurate access to relevant data.  In short, a huge new benefit for patients.

So now is an appropriate time to launch the e-Health Strategy which will, over time, embrace not only the CMIS but also other domains beyond the electronic health records.  Such domains will include extending electronic health care across mobile health services, known as m-Health, tele-health, health research, and e-learning by health workers.  All to improve speed, accuracy and quality in our health services.  Details of the e-Health Strategy are available on the Government website www.gov.sz.

Clearly, the e-Health Strategy will be part of the overall e-Government Strategy 2013 to 2017 which will, itself, be reviewed and updated later this year.

In our e-Government programme, much has been done and much is to come.  Government has in place a catalogue of additional e-services that should be implemented over the coming two years.  We encourage the private sector to explore with the relevant Government agencies the possibilities for public/private partnership to harness the skills of the private sector, and help to provide those further on-line services.

In the meantime, we are pleased to see the Point of Sale facility being introduced today, allowing debit and credit cards to be used for payment of Government services.  Very soon, that will be extended to payment through internet banking and mobile money.

In conclusion may I, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, thank UNDP for the technical assistance in developing the e-Government Communication Strategy and e-Government logo, and hereby declare their launch, together with the e-Health Strategy and Point of Sale.

Thank you.

 

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