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The central challenge of e-Government in South Africa is improving the quality of ser vices delivered to all citizens and all businesses. This is a challenge because of the digital divide- the divide between those who have access to enabling technology and those that don’t. Access to technology goes beyond physical access to a personal computer or the internet access and includes technological literacy which affects user interface preferences of citizens and businesses.

To leverage the opportunities of e-Government, the focus must be on the maximising its impact on the largest cross-section of the citizens and businesses of South Africa -the SMMEs, emerging businesses and the previously disadvantaged. This is where expectations are highest, and the capacity is least. SMMEs for example need less red-tape and ready access to on-line information on business opportunities, networks, grants, registration and a host of other enabling or support structures that are available in government. Any e-government strategy must however be integrated with government Batho Pele policy. Given the digital divide, this means service delivery channel integration to ensure access to all with encouragement for citizens to upgrade their technological mobility.




e-Government also presents a unique opportunity in the form of business model innovation and economic transformation. In that, by deploying the Internet and other web-based technologies to re-conceptualise new service delivery models, government has the opportunity to change the economics of its service delivery. That is, reduce cost and at the same time extend its scale.

Evidence from mature e-enabled service industries suggest that such re-conceptualised business models would be characterised by outsourcing of non-strategic infrastructure and extensive use of partnerships to enable ser vice delivery fulfilment. The transition to this new business model will result in two things: firstly, fewer resources invested on capacitating internal operations management and greater focus being placed on optimising the delivery network as a regulator. Secondly, the transformation process will provide opportunity to government to re-structure the economy by presenting growth and development opportunities to small businesses and community-based organisations that become the delivery arm of government.

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