The future of cities: Cape Town’s CIO discusses

This is part 2 of a longish conversation I had with André Stelzner, CIO city of Cape Town. As a reminder, Stelzner walked us through the 10 year journey it has been on to drive value back to citizens through its use of SAP and the application of ‘ERP thinking.’

In this longer video, he talks about where the implementation is going. So for example, they are taking on board topics like intelligent, real time security. They’re looking at new ways to manage the consumption of waste and resources like water and power. One of the principle ways is to charge people for what they use in a way that reflects patterns they discover using real-time analytics. On the waste management side, we have a lively discussion about charging households based upon RFID tags that send data about weight collected and how this might spawn an interesting cottage industry. Those initiatives will require the city to take on SAP HANA.

One interesting aspect of managing IT requests is the manner in which his department prioritises investments by asking two basic questions:

  1. Is it strategic?
  2. Does it have to be done now?

He also talks about having a significant number of subject matter experts inside the IT department who have no IT background but who can fulfill  valuable roles in bridging the gap between IT and suppliers.

Finally we talk about Cape Town as a proxy for technology enabled cities and how that might spread by the use of shared services. While there are clear cost drivers, Stlezner argues that it is the only way for the country – in this case South Africa to ensure that all major cities benefit from the accumulated expertise and experience. It is a powerful argument but on that still has to overcome considerable political hurdles. This again is where subject matter experts: accountants, engineers and so on, can play a valuable role.

I apologize in advance for the length of the video as it runs more than 13 minutes total but I felt that the lessons he was sharing were too valuable to edit out and have broad application in countries that do not operate a federated form of municipal government.


Den Howlett
Following 20+ years in finance and IT related roles, Den Howlett became a freelance writer/analyst/commenter specialising in enterprise IT. He has been calling the vendors to account ever since.
Den Howlett


Disruptor, enterprise applications drama critic, BS cleaner, buyer champion and foodie trying to suck less every day.
Den Howlett