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Time for greater public-private sector collaboration

This week, South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan highlighted during the Budget Speech that partnership between government and businesses is a central priority of the National Development Plan (NDP) and key to rapid development for economic growth.

MTN Business welcomes the budget speech and the recent call by the president for the public and private sectors to work together by mobilising the resources and capacity for quality delivery of services.

In fact, David Mphelo, General Manager for Public Sector at MTN Business South Africa says the recent positive overtures by the Presidency regarding a more open relationship with business is  serious cause for private sector mobilisation.

During the state of the nation address in particular, President Jacob Zuma provided an opening for improved relations between the public and private sectors, with the President announcing a number of initiatives that aim to improve the country’s attractiveness to investors.

Far from merely aiming to appease the private sector, the President has also undertaken a series of high-level meetings with business leaders to address these critical issues. A more business-friendly sentiment is sorely needed at a time that economic growth, jobs and social cohesion are under threat.

There are undoubtedly many lessons that the private sector can share with government partners on how to build sustainable enterprises - both large and small. By the same token, private sector can also gain tremendous insights from the lessons and challenges they face.

The announcement in the President’s address of the Sovereign Innovation Fund, for example provides the perfect opportunity to harmonise private sector expertise with public sector objectives.

MTN Business believes such an initiative will require a solid, workable model that rewards private enterprise funding and resources, backed by clear government policy and participation. In a word, trust is essential to making any such partnership work to the benefit of all involved.

There are numerous examples across the globe of how concerted efforts to leverage public-private partnerships can have a tangible impact on the quality of life through improved service delivery. The Chinese city of Yinchuan is a case in point.

Recognised as a leading example of the smart city concept, the city’s leadership has partnered with technology providers to deliver a plethora of digital services that include digital health, policing, e-government, administration, and smart energy technologies.

Lessons from models such as this could be adapted to suit local conditions, although the underlying principle of close public-private co-operation is paramount. The details of how such partnerships will be structured are key to ensuring the success of any initiative of this nature.

While these attributes of a more productive economy can be realised across many industry sectors, the ICT sector is particularly suited to introducing cost efficiencies to the benefit of government departments and their constituencies.

MTN in particular, through the MTN SA Foundation, has been working hard with national and local Government departments to provide state-of-the-art connected computer laboratories, encourage entrepreneurial spirit through skills development and support to ensuring that a positive difference is made in the communities the company operates in for economic growth and sustainability.

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