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Shifting times: How the internet has transformed access to government services

As the world rapidly changes digitally, governments must reinvent themselves in order to create a future-ready public sector. Digital transformation entails a complete revamp of organizational structures, governance, work processes, culture, and attitude, in addition to new technologies.  

The development of digital transformation by way of the internet, has introduced efficient and dynamic ways to enhance the citizen’s end-to-end experience of public services. Traditional routes for interacting with the government, reporting issues, and providing input are being replaced by social media and mobile technologies. These digital media technologies have promoted citizen participation by including citizens in decision-making processes. 

In South Africa, we have seen a rise in Artificial Intelligence inventions also known as chatbots. Chatbots combine the convenience of mobile messaging with the intelligence of artificial intelligence (AI), giving people new opportunities to interact with different organizations. According to Saurabh Kumar, CEO of In2IT Technologies, with South Africa’s high smartphone density, there is a significant untapped possibility for local and national governments to start providing some services via chatbot platforms.

Digify Africa is one of the organizations at the forefront of tapping into this space, to minimize the rate of young people who lack digital skills and access information. Digify Africa created a digital learning solution with the help of the biggest communication platform WhatsApp. Through this accessible platform, Digify Africa has been able to launch three successful chatbots. Since the launch of Digify Africa’s digital literacy chatbot Lesedi, over 1 million WhatsApp messages have already been sent and 10,000 topics have been consumed by over 13,000 registered learners in less than a month. 

While the integration of digital technologies in South Africa is slow, the government is gradually  introducing e-tools in different departments. The Western Cape Government Health Department, in collaboration with Aviro Health, developed an automated chatbot application system that certifies chronic medicine delivery to patients’ homes using the WhatsApp platform.


The emergence of these different digital platforms has also given citizens the power to participate in improving their lives. GovChat is one of the few platforms that has made it simple for citizens to play an active part on governance whilst on the go. Citizens on this platform can engage different government sectors. GovChat, as South Africa’s official citizen-government engagement platform, is the first structured mechanism to manage how information from the country’s 257 municipalities is escalated.


To create this digitally enabled public sector of the future, governments must begin expediting digital integration initiatives. Only then will we be able to reap the larger benefits of digital transformation for citizens.


Would you like to discover how to access more government services at your convenience? Add Lesedi to your WhatsApp today to learn how to apply fora social grant, your identity document or passport, and Covid-19 vaccines online. To get started, click here and say hi to Lesedi!