New tool will measure adoption of technology and innovation at municipal level

South African municipalities will in the future be able to use a technology-based tool to inform them about upscaling or adopting innovation to improve service delivery.

This comes as the Ministry of Science and Innovation (DSI) is targeting a national deployment of the Municipal Innovation Maturity Index (MIMI), its tool for measuring innovation in municipalities.

MIMI, officially unveiled last week, was developed and piloted through a DSI partnership with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).

The tool tracks and assesses the science, technology and innovation readiness levels of municipalities, and determines the maturity levels of innovation adoption, says Dr Phil Mjwara, Managing Director (DG ) of the ISD.

In addition, it measures the capacities of individual employees and municipalities to learn, implement, adopt and institutionalize innovations that can improve service delivery, he notes.

Mjwara explains that the tool is in line with the country’s National Development Plan (PND) for 2030, which prioritizes the introduction of innovation and technology to improve state capacities.

According to the CEO, ISD derived its plans for the MIMI tool from the NPD target. “A well-functioning local public sector, supported by technological systems, data and investments in innovation, will help improve governance, build citizen confidence, improve the quality of basic services, reduce poverty and to fight against corruption.

“In accordance with the policy, the intention to position the government as a catalyst is very important. We have appointed SALGA, HSRC and UKZN to develop, pilot and deploy MIMI in municipalities to encourage adoption and adoption of innovation in municipalities.

The CIO expects the national deployment of MIMI to enhance the ability of municipalities to plan, integrate and integrate innovation and technology into their day-to-day operations, and create an environment conducive to the adoption of innovation in communities. municipalities.

The objective of national deployment is to achieve coverage of 50% of municipalities over the current period of the medium-term strategic framework (2019 to 2024).

The Director General of the Department of Science and Innovation, Dr Phil Mjwara.

The Director General of the Department of Science and Innovation, Dr Phil Mjwara.

Mjwara explains that the tool was piloted by the project team, who recruited 24 municipalities, nine subways, nine district municipalities and six local municipalities to participate in the pilot.

In total, 68 municipalities were targeted to participate in the pilot implementation and testing of MIMI; however, due to conditions related to COVID-19, only certain municipalities were able to participate.

Even if the participation rate did not reach the expected threshold, it provided valuable information on the innovation processes within the participating municipalities, reveals the department.

The pilot’s report found more than half of municipalities ranked at maturity level three, which means innovation is managed and managers optimize and evaluate solutions, improving them for internal benefit.

Mjwara says, “As the Ministry of Science and Innovation, we are working very hard to put in place a governance structure within government, which will be an inter-ministerial committee of a number of ministries which we believe will must start using innovation to improve their service delivery, modernize their sectors or adopt new sources of code.

Tshepang Mosiea, director of science and technology for sustainable human settlements at ISD, explains that the tool has been tested to determine if it is suitable for a real purpose. The department is now examining how it can replicate and deploy the tool nationwide, especially in municipalities, Mosiea notes.

“We are confident that the tool provides a template for more robust future reporting on innovation practices in municipalities.

“Following the pilot, the ministry planned a series of commitments with the municipalities that participated in the pilot. He will undertake them as learning forums next month. [August] just to provide them with feedback on innovation practices during their participation in the pilot project. MIMI partners will use these commitments to refine the tool and strengthen data collection mechanisms.

“As the Ministry of Science and Innovation, we are very excited about the pilot implementation,” adds Mosiea. “We firmly believe that [MIMI] will provide the opportunity to support the country’s smart cities program and other related smart city initiatives in the country. We hope that there will be increased participation of municipalities in the deployment of MIMI. “

Mjwara calls on municipalities to partner with DSI in the national roll-out of MIMI, encouraging their participation in departmental programs designed to help municipalities scale up innovations that can deliver and improve the delivery of basic services.

Melissa C. Keyes