Key Individual:
Eldrid Jordaan


Who can benefit from this study?
Policy/decision-makers
Technical people
Civic Tech initiatives
Communities
Researchers
Funders


Organisation responsible for case study:
Name: GovChat

Org. type: Non-Profit



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GovChat – Connecting Citizens and Government

Post Status:
Main Project Location: Pretoria
Project country/countries: South Africa
Project dates: 2016 –
Last updated: 23 March 2022


Brief overview of the Case Study   

GovChat is a web platform that also uses Whatsapp and USSD to allow citizens to connect with government representatives. Using the USSD: *120*9191# and WhatsApp: 060 078 6613 citizens can speak to their representatives. GovChat is South Africa’s largest civic engagement platform accessible online, on any mobile handset and feature phones. GovChat connects you with your government across all platforms accessible via any mobile device or feature phone. GovChat enables citizens to connect and communicate with national, provincial and local government representatives in real-time via chatbots, Whatsapp and via USSD.

The challenge or problem

80% of South Africans do not know who their Local Public Representatives are; This leads to challenges such as limited engagement between governments and their citizens as well as monitoring of Local Government service delivery. Consequently, lack of accountability in government officials results.

The solution that was implemented

Jordaan says the idea was sparked when he worked at Mxit some years ago they hosted many live government chats and he saw how popular they were among younger people.
Realising the need to inform citizens about government issues and their elected officials, Eldrid decided to start GovChat to bridge the communication lines between citizens and government. After 3 years of running the start-up from his own funds and close to giving up, however a donor who liked his work donated funds amounting to R10 million towards the development of GovChat. 11 months later, GovChat received another R20 million from a JSE listed company which in total made it R30 million in 12 months. Eldrid attributes this to the overwhelming number of South Africans who want to be active citizens.
After introducing and proposing the app to the government, the government came back and said they liked the project, today GovChat is the official engagement platform for the South African Government at national level. GovChat has an Open Government Partnership initiative with the Department of Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), CoGTA and SALGA.

What technology was used?

Social Media, USSD, Website, WhatsApp

 

What results were achieved?

By 2020, GovChat had 4 million active users and has to date processed well over 170 million messages, making it one of Africa’s largest citizen-government engagement platforms.
In response to COVID-19 in South Africa, the government-appointed GovChat to help coordinate its response. GovChat provided several departments with a channel to share information on services, like water and electricity, and gain feedback from citizens during the country’s lockdown. GovChat helped the South African Social Security Agency manage digital applications for a temporary social relief grant. GovChat has also partnered with Unicef to advance child survival, development, protection, youth engagement and social policy initiatives. Through GovChat’s online civic engagement platforms, the partnership is committed to developing systems for real-time monitoring of children’s wellbeing and enhancing children’s access to social services. (Unicef.org)

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