Jacobs Edo

Business Transformation Advisor, Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies (Stanford SEED), Austria

The need for quality public services delivered faster, more integrated and more ecologically friendly cannot be over-emphasized in today’s world. This is attributable to many challenges, constraints and failed socio-political promises. Therefore the desire for change is apparent which means the drive for greater efficiency must be relentless and knowledge driven. Public sector productivity has often been relatively stagnating when compared to the private sector in most countries of the world. The need for economic sustainability implies that public works must become digitally enabled and transformed where possible. Digitalization continues to place unprecedented pressure on businesses, organisations and government institutions globally. That means managing our collective transition to a digitally-driven business model is crucial to the global quest for sustainability in the 21st Century and ending extreme poverty. And since digital touches so many parts of our society and development, the need for knowledge and change are more urgent than ever.

The process of digital transformation encompasses two concepts: Digitalization and Transformation. While digitalisation is about making Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) integral to public functions; business process transformation applies to addressing the weaknesses that continually challenge public sector operations. A digital transformation of the African public service would enable it to embrace the much-needed change; including digital technologies and other innovative approaches to improve service delivery and redefine the value systems in the public service for a rewarding outcome. For Africa to embrace the UN Sustainable Development Goals, its vision 2030, the aspirations of its young population and public employees, the governments of Africa states will need to embark on a general public sector digital transformation programme on a scale unprecedented globally.

According to the Greeks, ‘A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.’ Africa leaders are therefore invited to consider digitizing their public services. Knowledge for Development Partnership’s (K4DP) proposal on knowledge cities can help further this vision for the future.