Wesley Diphoko, Head of the Independent Digital Lab (02 June 2017)
CAPE TOWN - One of the first steps undertaken by President Jacob Zuma when he became President of South Africa was to establish the National Planning Commission. The commission was set up to lead the process of mapping a long-term vision for South Africa.

The former minister of finance, Trevor Manuel, was requested by Zuma to lead the process together with business, civil society and academic leaders.

The National Planning Commission produced what we know today as the National Development Plan 2030 (NDP 2030).

This week South Africa celebrated the 5th anniversary of the NDP. Zuma was the keynote speaker at the event.

In defining the purpose of the plan, Zuma said: "The NDP covers a wide variety of areas, from the economy to security, from strengthening the capacity of the state to reducing the high levels of crime and corruption. The NDP tells us and the world where our country should be in 2030.

“Our vision as contained in the NDP is for a South Africa in which those who seek employment will be employed. It should be a country in which the youth will have access to quality education.

“We are striving for a society in which citizens will live healthy, long lives, a place where there is no fear of criminals and where all live safely and securely. 

We are building a country with a capable state that supports citizens to fulfil their dreams and freely express their talents.

“It envisages a growing economy that is responsive to the demands of a fast changing world, an economy that does not only benefit the few. It should be an economy where all share in the country’s wealth.”

The dominating view currently is that the NDP 2030 is not being implemented. This view was dismissed by facts outlined by Zuma when he spoke at its 5th anniversary commemoration.

In his talk, he outlined initiatives aimed at the implementation of the NDP. Speaking about these initiatives, Zuma said: "The government has turned the NDP into a five-year implementation plan, the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF). The current MTSF, 2014 to 2019, has fourteen outcomes, which include education, health, safety and security, inclusive economic growth, job creation, infrastructure development, nation building and social cohesion, among others.

Mainstreamed

"In this manner, the NDP has been mainstreamed and is the government’s programme of action.

"The new National Planning Commission, also comprising experts from various fields, is tasked with ensuring the effective implementation of the NDP.

"They will advise us where there are deficiencies so that we can plan and implement better."

He also highlighted the following achievements that were demonstration of implementation of the NDP plan:

* Economy: Gross Domestic Product grew in real terms from R1.6trillion in 1994 to just more than R3trln in 2015.

* Employment: Growth in employment from 9.5 million employed people in 1994 to 16 million people at the end of 2015.

* Electricity: Increasing connections to electricity to 95% of households.

* Water: Piped water to 85% of households

Based on this data, it is clear that a lot has been done by the government to implement the NDP.

Minister Jeff Radebe, who is tasked with the responsibility of monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the NDP, recently introduced The Budget Prioritisation Framework, or Mandate Paper, which was adopted by the cabinet as the blueprint on how to cut down on non-performing programmes and prioritisation of programmes that will strengthen the three key levers of growing the economy, enhancing the capabilities of South Africans and building a capable state.

Presenting the Mandate Paper, Radebe indicated that the government had adopted the NDP as its plan to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030 and, therefore, it was a requirement for all government departments to prioritise NDP objectives in all their plans.

Radebe said that there was a need for the corrective and structural intervention such as the Mandate Paper to enhance the precision and targeting of budget allocation to NDP objectives through the identification annually of a set of priorities.

All of these measures have been introduced to ensure that the NDP is implemented.

The challenge, however, is the extent to which the implementation has been communicated to the public. Very few people understand that the NDP is currently being implemented.

There’s, therefore, a greater need to communicate the implementation of the NDP to the public. The public needs to know how far we are from achieving the 2030 vision. Even government officials need further awareness about progress or lack thereof towards the 2030 vision.

Progress

Access to information about the progress of the NDP will assist in further implementation and achievement of the goal.

Technology through data visualisation and other means can play a significant role in informing the public about the progress the country is making towards achieving its goals.

This is what the Infonomist has been working towards in the form of capturing public sector data and designing means through which such data can be communicated to the public with easy to understanding information tools.

Some details about the Infonomist work in this regard will be presented at the upcoming International Master Data Quality Conference 2017 (IMDQ) taking place on September 19.

The IMDQ Conference is the significant event for data leaders, data users, data analysts, data stewards, chief data officers and data scientists who believe that quality master data, big data and business intelligence can turn current data into an organisational and national asset.

Wesley Diphoko is the Head of Independent Media’s Digital Lab and founder of the Kaya Labs. Follow him via Twitter: @WesleyDiphoko

-BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE