Technology Stars In South African Election Campaigns

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Written by Dana Sanchez

South Africa’s political parties are on the campaign trail promising new technology projects to attract voters in advance of the May 7 general elections, ITWeb reports.

Parties that have released their election plans so far include the ruling African National Congress (ANC); its official opposition — the Democratic Alliance (DA) — and newcomer, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

Parties that haven’t revealed their election plans include the Inkatha Freedom Party, Freedom Front Plus, Agang SA and the Congress of the People.

Some plans lack details of how the technology will be implemented, but technology was mentioned as a catalyst to improving some national ministries, ITWeb reports.

Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters placed an emphasis on technology innovation in its first elections, ITWeb reports. The EFF promises to:

  • Support and subsidize programs that “lead to the development and manufacturing of a South African car, computer, tablet, phone and other means of world-class technological innovations.”
  • Invest in and subsidize science and technology innovation.
  • Build a technology university that focuses on innovation.
  • Use existing infrastructure to provide “high-speed and quality broadband to all schools and all institutions of higher learning” in South Africa.
  • Look into tablets and laptops for school students.

The EFF and DA followed the ANC’s manifesto, which was unveiled in January and focuses on the ruling party’s achievements since coming to power in 1994.

The ANC promises to:

  • Fund school and university science innovation programs “with special emphasis on new ideas that address the real problems of the economy and society.”
  • Invest in science and technology projects including the construction phase of the Square Kilometre Array.
  • Encourage e-learning by introducing mobile devices like tablets into schools.
  • Develop college-based math and science programs to increase the number of learners pursuing careers in science and technology.
  • Accelerate the rollout of its ICT infrastructure programs, which aim to improve citizens’ connectivity.
  • Expand broadband access throughout South Africa and reduce the cost of communication, connecting “all schools, public health and other government facilities through broadband by 2020.” At least 90 percent of communities should also be connected by then, the ANC said.
  • The party said it will support and develop free WiFi areas in cities, towns and rural areas.

The the Democratic Alliance unveiled its election plan Monday, focusing on job creation and economic growth, ITWeb reports. The DA promises to:

  • Build a competitive ICT sector by granting operating licences to additional fixed-line operators, with the aim of bringing down prices and improving service delivery for consumers.
  • Strengthen the capacity of the Technology Innovation Agency “to provide financial and non-financial support for the development and commercialization of knowledge-based services and products.”
  • Establish a new regulatory framework for the ICT sector to improve broadband capacity and lower prices in order to expand access.
  • Support the private sector in improving ICT access and use government resources to target under-serviced areas.
  • Use IT in healthcare by improving the system of buying and distributing medicine. “Patients should be able to collect medicines from any accredited pharmacy or premises, making collection more convenient and less time-consuming,” the DA said.
  • Use technology to fight crime by creating a system that ensures “real-time information on crime, criminals and suspected criminals is available where it is needed.” The party also promises to introduce “handheld consoles linked to police stations through which officers can update crimes reported and arrests made in real-time.”
  • Expand electronic monitoring of probationers and parolees.