Africa’s inconclusive e-government systems ‘block service delivery’

GOVERNMENT

-
Image: By BiztechAfrica
Africa’s inconclusive e-government systems ‘block service delivery’

By Issa Sikiti da Silva, Dakar, Senegal

Government ministries, agencies or municipal offices lacking websites or filled with outdated or misleading information, top state officials communicating with Yahoo/hotmail emails, and relying on internet cafés for electronic communication, 15 or 20 workers all using one slow, old-fashioned computer, for information processing, among others.

That is, among others, basically the state of e-government in most African countries, as documented by Biztechafrica and other independent studies.

“There is no sense of urgency from many African governments to develop e-government and take full advantage of its countless opportunities. And that hampers service delivery,” an IT consultant who has worked on many e-government projects across Africa, told Biztechafrica on condition of anonymity.

“The concept of e-government is not yet firmly entrenched on many African governments’ agendas, and there are those who are doing it just for the sake of doing, or because it’s a new trend in the current fast-changing world.

“You know who the biggest loser is in all of this mess, is the people. We found some unbelievable stuff in these countries that shows a total lack of commitment by the leadership. And you wonder what are these guys really thinking? For me, the main reason for not investing and flexing their muscles on e-government is to stifle transparency and accountability because with e-government everything is under the spotlight.”

He added: “Putting government information online is very critical because it helps promote a well-informed society and enhance democracy. Interacting with people online will help them to know what to do, where to go and where to talk to in order to get things done, fast. And that increases government’s efficiency.

“It also improves decision-making and resource allocation,” the source said.

Yayehyirad Kitaw, an African expert and researcher who documented Africa’s few initiatives on e-government, said despite some progress made in a few countries, the opportunities offered by these new technologies remain largely unexploited.

Kitaw has identified the following major barriers to the success of e-government in Africa:

·  low rate of literacy

·  underdeveloped telecommunication infrastructure

·  lack of commitment of governments to genuine transformation towards a more transparent and citizen-centred governance

According to Brendan Eze Asogwa, of the University of Nigeria Nsukka, electronic government makes government processes more accountable, responsive and transparent.

“It improves governance and the quality of life of citizens and offers a number of compelling benefits such as better quality government services, increased citizenship satisfaction, higher efficiency, reduced costs, and lowers processing time.”

Asogwa’s findings on his study on the state of e-government readiness in Africa shows that a few countries had already a web presence as far back as 2005, and that 12 African countries were the best in e-government in 2005, 2008 and 2010.

· In 2005, Mauritius, South Africa, and Morocco (100%) were the best, followed by Egypt (100%), Botswana (100%), Seychelles, Swaziland, Mozambique, Senegal, Algeria, Lesotho and Benin.

· In 2008, these countries were still the best, though their scores were abysmally lower. In 2010 Egypt, Lesotho, and Mauritius were the best online service countries for Africa.

Like Kitaw, Assegwa also identified, among others, the reasons of the lack, or low levels, of web presence in many government spheres in Africa:

·  Inequality in the distribution of ICTs between the developed countries and Africa

·  Income access divide, low literacy rate and lack of technical skills to using ICTs 

·  Lack of effective up-to-date assistive technologies

·  Weak ICT policies in many African countries

·  Political instability

 



Share the News

Get Daily Newsletter

comments powered by Disqus

MORE GOVERNMENT NEWS

Ghana’s ‘big bang’ approach tackles data penetration

With 110% voice penetration, full data penetration is the next big target in Ghana, says the NCA. Read More

Kenya unveils new ICT master plan

Kenya has launched the national Information, Communication Technology Master Plan 2017 to spur economic growth in the country. Read More

Botswana to enhance education through Thutonet

Launching the Thutonet Governance Structure, Secretary of Education Reforms, Taboka Nkhwa, said for Botswana to make any appreciable progress in its socio-economic development efforts, substantial resources should be directed at improving educational delivery. Read More

Kenya to digitally register all citizens afresh

Kenya plans to digitally register all citizens as part of national planning and the war against terrorism. Read More

Botswana passes electronic transaction, communications bill

The Botswana Parliament has passed the Electronic Communications and Transactions Bill, which gives legal recognition to electronic transactions. Read More

Angola stimulates ICT innovation in government

The Angolan Government is seeking to boost the use of ICTs in public service administration and service delivery through its ‘Innovate’ programme for the public sector. Read More

Kenyan Deputy President takes to Twitter

Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto took to Twitter today, to interact with Kenyans on the platform for the first time. Read More

Nigeria, China sign power MoU

A consortium of companies in Nigeria and a Group of top-rate Chinese investors have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on power plant projects, including the assembling and manufacturing of pre-paid power meters.  Read More

Cofek challenges Kyalo appointment

Cofek has challenged the appointment of the Information, Communication and Technology Authority Chief Executive, Mr Victor Kyalo. Read More

Therisanyo gets e-learning centre

John Moir and Kagiso Molatlegi Samsung Technologies has handed over an e-learning centre to Botswana's Therisanyo Primary School. Read More

PRESS OFFICES

Sage ERP AfricaSage Pastel AccountingTrust PayVMWareSamsung ElectronicsMitsumi DistributionPhoenix DistributionSage HR AfricaMTN Business

FEATURED STORY

Kenyan shift to Green Economy would generate USD 45bn by 2030 Kenyan shift to Green Economy would generate USD 45bn by 2030

Kenya’s transition to a green economy could produce major economic benefits  equivalent to an estimated USD 45 billion by 2030, a new  study shows.

IN DEPTH

E-waste threatens Ghana’s beachesE-waste threatens Ghana’s beaches

Many beaches in Ghana, already stressed by pollution and poor maintenance, are now facing a new threat: e-waste.

COMPANY NEWS

Further African expansion for Phoenix

Phoenix Distribution, a leading broad-based distributor on the African continent, has expanded its office in Nairobi, Kenya, in a move to better serve its partners in East ...