Africa’s inconclusive e-government systems ‘block service delivery’
GOVERNMENT| Jan. 13, 2013, 7:09 a.m.
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Government ministries, agencies or municipal offices lacking websites or filled with outdated or misleading information, top state officials communicating with Yahoo/hotmail emails, and relying on internet cafés for electronic communication, 15 or 20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
MORE GOVERNMENT NEWS
Tigo Cash first in line to accept e-Goverment payments through IremboTigo Rwanda has announced its partnership with Rwanda Online Platform Ltd (ROPL) for e-Government service payments via the Irembo,gov.rw e-government portal. Read More
SIM deactivation: NCC to sanction telcos over non-complianceThe Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), says it will impose sanctions on Nigeria carriers over partial and non-compliance with its directive to deactivate all SIMs that do not conform to laid down procedures. Read More
Expert wants MDAs to embrace e-revenue collectionAn electronic payment expert, Deremi Atanda, has urged Federal Government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to embrace the use of technology, especially the electronic or e-payment platform to collect revenue. Read More
SADC lends weight to STIThe Southern African Development Community (SADC) has put its weight behind the regional initiatives to boost Science, Technology and Innovation (STI). Read More
NCA to auction Infrastructure LicenseGhana’s National Communication Authority will soon be auctioning its Infrastructure License to the public. Read More
Telcos get 7-day SIM ultimatumThe Nigerian Communications Commission has handed down a seven-day ultimatum to network providers to deactivate all pre-registered SIM cards or face sanctions. Read More
Prof Danbatta named NCC chiefPresident Muhammadu Buhari has appointed Prof Umar Garba Danbatta as the new Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the NCC. Read More
CEO of BOCRA to open SAPOA AGMThari Pheko, The Botswana Communications and Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) Chief Executive Officer will be the guest of honour at the 14th southern Africa Postal Operators Association annual general meeting. Read More
Prof Quaynor calls for greater partnerships within Ghana’s ICT sectorThe Board Chairman of Ghana’s National Information Technology Agency (NITA) Professor Nii Narku Quaynor, has called for a much greater collaboration and partnership within the country’s Information and Communication Technology sector. Read More
August is Science, Technology and Innovation MonthBotswana’s Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology (MIST), Hon. Nonofo Molefhi will officially launch the Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) month on Tuesday. Read More
FEATURED STORYYoung innovators shine during pitch sessions
Botswana saw an array of upcoming tech wizards selling their ideas during the Vendors’ Day pitch sessions this week.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHHigh tech homes: Just press play
High tech, digital homes where everything is automated and connected aren’t the stuff of science fiction any longer, says BNC Technology.