The State IT Agency (Sita), government’s IT procurement arm, and Usaasa, the agency responsible for bridging the digital divide in South Africa, are to be run by administrators while they are restructured and their mandates reconfigured.
The surprising announcement, made by communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams in Pretoria on Thursday, means both organisations will be run by administrators, supported by project management offices.
The board of the perennially dysfunctional Usaasa has been dissolved, while Sita’s board will be dissolved on 1 January when the term of its current board ends, the minister said.
Sita, the minister said, has historically acted as a central procurement agency for IT for government. She said its mandate should be far broader than that.
Luvuyo Keyise has been appointed as the administrator of Sita for a 24-month period from 1 January. According to LinkedIn, Keyise is currently chief technology officer as Ithala, another state-owned company. He has a master’s degree in computer science and more than 20 years of experience in the IT field.
“We will re-purpose Sita as a new digital transformation agency,” Ndabeni-Abrahams said. She emphasised, in response to a question from TechCentral, that the decision to appoint administrators at both Sita and Usaasa was not forced on government but that it felt it was the prudent course of action to transform the organisations and, in the case of Usaasa, to speed up the long-delayed broadcasting digital migration project. Both entities will continue to function as before and provide services.
Government’s digital transformation plan “requires an audit of current government IT spend and interventions in order to identify champions and priorities related to the ease of doing business and provision of crucial services to the citizens. In this respect, we will be re-purposing Sita as a new digital transformation agency to drive digitalisation, innovation and localisation, and supporting a capable state,” Ndabeni-Abrahams said.
At Usaasa, government has appointed Newyear Niniva Ntuli as the administrator, also for a 24-month period. This, the minister said, is being done to ensure the successful implementation of the television migration project.
“Cabinet (this week) approved the delivery model that encompasses direct appointment of local decoder installers that are qualified and accredited. The second phase thereof will include the roll-out of integrated digital TVs (and) in order to ensure the success of the project the department is exploring alternative funding options.”
Government missed the deadline of June 2015, agreed to with the International Telecommunication Union, to complete migration. As a result, terrestrial broadcasts in South Africa are still in analogue and key radio spectrum — at 700MHz and 800MHz — has still not been re-purposed for mobile broadband. — (c) 2019 NewsCentral Media