The e-Participation and Policy Modelling Platform for South Africa (ePPMOSA) project is a transformative initiative aiming to pilot e-participation and policy modelling technologies and methods across six municipalities and other government entities from 2022 to 2025. The primary goal of the project is to support and enhance existing public participation and policy formulation processes, fostering a more inclusive and democratic decision-making landscape.
WHO IS INVOLVED?
The ePPMOSA project is an integral part of a broader programme established by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), focused on piloting technology and innovations that can improve the delivery of basic services. The programme is funded through the European Union Sector Budget Support Programme and National Treasury. The HSRC is the lead implementing entity, through a collaboration between the Impact Centre (IC) and Development, Capable and Ethical State (DCES) units. The project works closely with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).
OUR APPROACH AND THEORY OF CHANGE
Central to this project is the implementation of e-participation pilot projects within municipalities. We employ an action research spiral, which involves understanding needs, implementing technologies or practices, evaluating and reflecting on outcomes, and then repeating this cycle in a more detailed or larger-scale form. This approach facilitates joint learning and gradual enrollment of key stakeholders. As part of the pilot projects, we also explore the policy and legislative environment surrounding (e-)participation, while building networks for knowledge exchange within this domain. Our theory of change outlines three main project outcomes and broader societal impacts.
MAPPING ACTIVITIES AND OPPORTUNITIES ON THE E-PARTICIPATION SPECTRUM
For municipalities and provincial government entities, it is vital to consider their role in enabling public participation in policy development. Moreover, exploring the potential of digital technology to support these activities is essential. In October 2022, we conducted our inaugural workshop to delve into these themes. Each participating entity meticulously mapped their current public participation initiatives while identifying (e-)participation opportunities they aim to explore in the future. Guided by the e-participation spectrum from the 2021 UN DESA e-Government Survey, we provided a framework to guide their inputs and discussions.
As of May 2023, the ePPMOSA project actively collaborates with five municipalities, conducting follow-up workshops with three of them to gain deeper insights into their policy and public participation priorities. Over the next few months, we anticipate confirming additional government partners, conducting baseline assessments, and launching the first set of pilot projects. This marks an exciting phase as we pave the way for inclusive and participatory policy formulation processes throughout South Africa.