The South Africa government is driving a number of Internet of Things (IoT) initiatives.

Jeanette Morwane, deputy director-general of the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies, points out that the economy is in dire straits and that the government believes the country needs to embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

One of these initiatives is a partnership with the Internet of Things Industry Council (IoTIC), the South African Local Government Association (Salga), Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) and Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA).

“When we were approached by the IoTIC we were excited to partner with them,” says Morwane.

The partners aim to develop a National Smart Cities Framework that would be taken to cabinet for adoption.

They will also demonstrate IoT solutions in smart cities, with a focus on addressing problems including financial viability particularly for smaller municipalities

“We want to use technology to demonstrate that we can turn around ailing municipalities,” Morwane says.

She explains that government recognises that real economic growth is going backwards, and there’s a need to be proactive in seizing Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) opportunities.

Morwane points out that the state needs to become an enabler – providing basic service and critical infrastructure; a regulator – setting the rules that create equitable opportunities for all players; and as redistributors – ensuring the most vulnerable are protected and given a chance to live up to their potential.

It also recognises that it needs to partner with industry to achieve this.

To create the environment for innovation to thrive, government needs to ensure reliable and cost-effective energy supply and distribution, Morwane says.

It also has to ensure reliable and cost-effective water supply and reticulation; and access to the rail network along with reduced port costs.

Importantly, it has to move quickly on allocating broadband spectrum.

The department of communications and digital technologies has partnered with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to establish a digital transformation centre

In line with this, the department is developing policy and governance around digital technology; foster innovation and entrepreneurship; ensure that infrastructure is expanded with standardisation, conformance and interoperability as well as cybersecurity; and social impact in terms of skills, jobs and equality.