Original Research

An examination of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the context of the South African local government

Thobile P. Mhlongo, Peta Thomas
Africa’s Public Service Delivery & Performance Review | Vol 12, No 1 | a807 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/apsdpr.v12i1.807 | © 2024 Thobile P. Mhlongo, Peta Thomas | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 October 2023 | Published: 10 June 2024

About the author(s)

Thobile P. Mhlongo, Milpark Business School, Johannesburg, South Africa
Peta Thomas, Department of Business Management, College of Business and Economics, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa


Background: Local governments in South Africa have been called to account for service delivery inefficiencies and this resulted in them adopting e-government initiatives to enhance service delivery. The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) offers many benefits for increased service efficiency and effectiveness.

Aim: This research study aimed to examine the concept of 4IR technologies within the local government context.

Setting: This study was conducted in Johannesburg, South Africa, with research participants from the City of Johannesburg (CoJ) Metropolitan Municipality and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA).

Methods: This study adopted a qualitative research design, using semi-structured interviews as primary data and reviewed relevant reports and literature as secondary data. Fourteen leaders were purposively selected and interviewed from the local government in Gauteng. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data.

Results: The study established that the local government has embarked on digital transformation in an effort to enhance service delivery for the citizens. As a result, leveraging 4IR technologies to enhance service delivery for citizens has become a priority for local government.

Conclusion: Local government service delivery has been plagued by a myriad of crippling challenges as evident in the widespread protests. The 4IR can be perceived as a response to service delivery challenges while enhancing local government relevance and impact.

Contribution: This study contributes to an understanding of the concept of 4IR within the context of local government and service delivery.


South Africa; municipality; citizen service; technology; local government.

JEL Codes

M19: Other

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure


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