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31 July 2019

EPD innovation studies team leads SALGA consultative workshop

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

The HSRC Economic Performance and Development (EPD) team co-leading the digitisation of the Municipal Innovation Maturity Index (MIMI), a project funded by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), formed the lead presenters at this workshop. As a major partner in this project, SALGA hosted the event at its head-office in Pretoria on 25 July 2019. The other project partner, a team based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, also participated in this event aimed expanding awareness of MIMI within SALGA. More than 40 attendees from SALGA participated in this workshop.

In addition the two EPD presenters, Mr Tshepang Moseia from DSI, offered a detailed overview of where MIMI fits into his Department’s policies and action agenda, all derived from commitments spelled out in their 2019 White Paper on Science and Technology.

Pressing conceptual and practical questions dominated this lively workshop: What attitudes towards science, technology and innovation (STI) exist within developmental local government agencies with their daunting service delivery mandates? What is the level of readiness among these agencies and their staff to embrace and effectively use STI? How can these attitudes towards STI or innovation capabilities be measured and monitored?

In their interactions with municipalities, SALGA has observed that municipalities face various obstacles that hamper optimal performance and embrace of STI. The most prominent one is research fatigue, officials are tired of continuous research in their organisations, and secondly, they deem measurement tools as audits or assessment processes. As the workshop unfolded, the team understood that MIMI measures learning capabilities of public sector structures and officials it is not a performance management instrument. They then made recommendations on the work that remained to be done and advised the panel of SALGA developed indicators that should be assessed in the refinement process. The stakeholders appreciated the novelty of the tool and envision MIMI presented during their Provincial Lekgotlas to be held with municipal officials. The digital version of MIMI should be aligned with instruments, indicators and activities that already exist in the South Africa local government and National System of Innovation, a critical step in its refinement and nationwide use as a decision support tool.

In summary, workshop participants deemed MIMI to be crucial in enabling municipalities to deliver their mandate. Furthermore, SALGA as an organisation that provides municipalities with support interventions can be a champion of the municipal innovation maturity index.

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

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