DIGITAL Government: Connecting with Citizens

TonyDeSousa72x72By Tony De Sousa,  Managing Executive: Solutions Business at Telkom

Are your constituents’ contact details up-to-date?

Across our continent, a top priority for most governments is the need to “improve communication and delivery of services to all citizens”.

Placing the “customer” at the core of going digital is occurring across all sectors, and citizen centricity in government is no different requiring a shift in how service delivery is rendered – across ALL levels of government.

Enhancing communication with citizens leads to better understanding of citizens’ needs and enables personalized communication and services to individual citizens– thus, shifting focus to outcomes and happy citizens.

How can government agencies get started?

With the proliferation of mobile devices across Africa, establishing bi-directional contact via mobile channels is a good place to start.

An organisation’s ability to support and reach its customer at all times directly contributes to its effectiveness and success as an organisation. This in turn relies on ensuring accurate contact data input at the point of data entry, coupled with the ability to simply, cost effectively and accurately maintain this data going forward.


Mobile devices are citizens’ connectivity to all that’s going on in their world – this means that if government agencies are not on their citizens’ devices, they are simply not connected with their worlds.

Contactability: One of the cornerstones of public sector service delivery is the ability to effectively communicate with citizens – Communication can only occur if parties always have up to date contact information about each other and the ability to change this in real time in a convenient, simple, integrated and seamless manner.

Adoption of mobility by citizens also requires the public sector to provide digital mobile channels easily accessible to all stakeholders to drive effective service delivery.  Being “in the hands” of citizens through their mobile devices allows for an in-time / real time service delivery experience.

Imagine for example the ability for local government, police authorities, emergency service to instantly update its customer service phone number or email address into someone’s mobile device in real time making them accessible and readily available.  Or for a citizen to update their contact information right into the municipality’s system from their mobile device wherever they are anytime day or night.

Responding to Legislation: Regulation also brings about new challenges to public sector bodies in their ability to meet service delivery goals whilst complying with the likes of POPI, FICA, KYC, etc.  Bringing world-class service delivery to citizens means government also needs to provide the ability for citizens to interact with organizations to meet these requirements in a simple ‘mobile’ manner.

Imagine the positive service delivery experience by citizens that allow them to for example update their POPI permissions, upload documents and send these directly to government entities in real time right from their mobile device and update this at any time.

Dynamic Customizable and Relevant Information: Having access to rich live data to drive service delivery means that government agencies need to request and access changing information on an ongoing basis from citizens on an going basis.

Consider ability to run a snap survey, instantly customize a response request to for example potholes, street lights, etc. and get this information request sent to the mobile device of citizens in real time and get feedback from them in real time.

Messaging and Communication: Real time relevant communication to citizens is key in driving effective communication and service delivery.

Ability to send a key message or document directly to select or community of citizens mobile device in real time – for example a crime alert, road accident or customer service messages.

Another practical example is enabling communication with citizens during election campaigns.


Customer service remains one of the most important elements across all organisations, including government. This also contributes towards greater efficiency to the extent that the citizens and government can communicate more effectively with each other.

Establishing a digital mechanism to stay in contact with citizens is a great place to start delighting the people that we serve across the continent.

Solutions exist today to enable real-time contact information synchronization between government and citizens via mobile channels.

Are you able to interact with your constituents today – and before the next elections?




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