W Cape’s trilingual govt gateway

1 April 2004

The Western Cape has launched a trilingual web portal – Cape Gateway – giving residents a single point of access to government information and services in the province’s three official languages: isiXhosa, English and Afrikaans.

“To the best of our knowledge, we have created the first isiXhosa web portal in the world”, said Finance and Economic Development MEC Ebrahim Rasool.

The portal, written in jargon-free language, backs up the Cape Gateway call centre and Cape Town walk-in-centre launched last year. The portal provides an information base for call centre, enabling operators to answer queries directly without referring questions to government departments.

The portal will also be used for publishing provincial tenders online. “This will bring real benefits for contractors in small towns across the province, as they will no longer have to come to Cape Town to collect the tender bulletin”, Rasool said.

“All they need to do is dial up and gain access to tender advertisements, whether they are in Cape Town’s central business district or [far-flung towns like] Prince Albert.”

The Cape Gateway is a project of the Cape Online E-Government programme, which commits the province to “citizen-centric” technologies and initiatives. It is the first step in the staged introduction of e-government in the province, aimed at cutting red tape and promoting the province’s call centre credentials.

The Cape Gateway call centre, situated at Douglas Murray House at Foreshore, is manned by operators trained to provide residents with whatever information they require. Sponsored by Telkom, the system enables users to dial all provincial government telephone numbers internally, thus saving on call costs.

The walk-in-centre at 142 Long Street has trained operators on hand (weekdays 8am-4pm) to provide assistance to residents, researchers, students and others who can walk in and search for information online.

Both centres keep government policy documents and research reports, and also provide information about non-governmental organisations and other bodies, such as the Cape Chamber of Commerce and the South African Bureau of Standards.

SouthAfrica.info reporter