Worldwide there has been an increase in the use of cloud-based computing solutions within the public sector. The International Data Corporation reports that the global public cloud services market grew by 24% in 2020. In South Africa, the recently published draft national policy on data and cloud noted the importance of harnessing the “social potential of data and cloud computing” and put forward a range of policy proposals towards increased adoption of public cloud solutions.
However, it is also widely recognized that a skills gap can be a significant barrier to the effective adoption of cloud-based solutions in the public sector. This skills gap starts with the procurement of cloud services. In a 2019 study conducted by Deloitte in the Australian context, it found that a skills gap and procurement were two major barriers to adopting the use of public cloud by government agencies.
With these considerations in mind, the African Procurement Law Unit (APLU), in collaboration with the School for Data Science and Computational Thinking at Stellenbosch University and Amazon Web Services, convened a roundtable discussion on building capacity in the South African public sector for the procurement of cloud computing. The roundtable, which took place on 8 July 2021, was exploratory in nature. The purpose was to start a conversation between all relevant stakeholders in the public and private sector about how public sector procurement capacity can be developed and strengthened to effectively procure cloud-based solutions. Participants in the roundtable included academics across a range of disciplines and institutions, public sector officials from government departments and public entities, suppliers and consultants.
It is anticipated that a smaller working group will take the proposals put forward during the discussion forward and convene a second roundtable to put forward concrete proposals to support increased procurement of cloud computing in South Africa.