03 August 2022


    Driving a purpose-led public sector approach

    Driving digital transformation in the public sector, while it has a structured aspect, is one that has to be adapted according to each environment.

    While digital transformation in the public sector is not an overnight process and some departments and municipalities are doing better than others, transformation is happening, with some significant strides in terms of Vodacom-government projects that have been completed or are nearing completion, and that are already touching citizens’ lives.

    Driving digital transformation in the public sector, while it has a structured aspect, is one that has to be adapted according to each environment we are dealing with,” says Poppy Tshabalala, Vodacom’s managing executive of Public Enterprise. “There is a basic foundation of needs, but the applications differ from department to department.

    “Some examples of where we have made a difference in varying applications include upgrading the Gauteng Education Department’s eAdmission system to be efficient and provide the best user experience. We also have made possible a free e-learning platform portal that provides CAPS-aligned educational content and, this year, in partnership with the Department of Basic Education, rolled out our Virtual Classroom solution into various rural area schools across three provinces.

    “We have launched and been rolling out Mpilo, a healthcare app that supports im- proved service delivery and patient care, have helped improve ambulance assistance and management, and we continue assisting to eliminate medical stock shortages. We have also been an integral part of the government’s latest election process, working closely with the IEC on implementing a technology solution that was a first for us and possibly a first in the world.

    “This is just a very small cross-section of what we do with the public sector. As a purpose-led company, we are proud of being part of such solutions.”

    Tshabalala is also very much a purpose-led person, with a distinctive leadership style that involves a thorough understanding of every corner of the business and those of the public sector departments she is dealing with, using her background in both the public and private sector to drive all things ICT.

     - Poppy Tshabalaba, Managing Executive for Public Enterprises, Vodacom Business

    Digital transformation

    “It is important that it’s less about technology and your knowledge of it and more about

    how you can provide a solution to a problem. In the instance of the public sector, it’s also about continuously reducing silos and working towards interdepartmental integration between public sector departments. This is absolutely vital for digital transformation.”

    Tshabalala says Vodacom is on a constant drive to provide technology solutions that allow disparate platforms to be integrated to enable inter-public sector communication and data-sharing, making the public sector more citizen-centric.

    “While budget inhibits progress being made in the public sector, we work closely with departments to maximise what they have to spend and help them balance need versus finance availability.”

    Vodacom maintains a sound policy around leveraging from multiple public-private partnerships (PPPs) to help the public sector achieve its goals.

    “We also deploy models to help fast-track the deployment of networks in deep rural areas of South Africa, using PPPs, which will enhance socio-economic development in rural areas.

    “This sector needs more woman-power,” says Tshabalala, “to bring in fresh perspectives and value. As a woman – and as all women should do – we must support, nurture and empower women in technology and constantly find ways to increase female representation, improve diversity and champion equality. As executives, we must open doors the way doors have been opened for us.”

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