Digitising Social Grants


The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) plays an integral part in the wellbeing and quality of life of many South Africans. SASSA issued a special Social Relief of Distress (SRD) Grant during the pandemic to elevate assistance, especially for those vulnerable to poverty. The challenge SASSA faced was an overwhelming number of applicants, and the finite number of facilities available to deal with such demand – often resulting in hours and hours of South Africans standing in a queue.


GovChat co-created a solution to the roll out of the Social Relief of Distress Grant with the Department of Social Development and SASSA. Applicants were able to apply for their grants as well as receive news and updates as to the status of their application via their mobile phone. This response showcases GovChat’s ability to digitise government processes efficiently and at scale, reducing the pressure on physical infrastructure and resource, especially via the chatbot capability GovChat implemented to assist with queries.


8 million South Africans were able to apply for their SASSA SRD grant without having to visit a SASSA office and wait in a queue. The GovChat chatbot capability implemented to assist the SASSA call centre was able to respond to over 500,000 queries within a few days, saving SASSA R7.5 million in call centre costs. The data gathered enabled GovChat to further understand the economic behaviour of distressed citizens on a ward and municipal level, providing valuable insights in drilling down to what some of the deeper underlying issues are.