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Government ministries, agencies or municipal offices lacking websites or filled with outdated or misleading information, top state officials communicating with Yahoo/hotmail emails, and relying on internet cafés for electronic communication, 15 or 20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
NCC chief urges Fed Govt to relax forex policyThe Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof Umar Garba Danbatta, has urged the Federal Government to consider relaxing its forex policy for telecommunications companies. Read More
No deal with MTN on fine, says ComTech ministerNigeria’s Communications Technology Minister says no concrete deal has been sealed in respect of the fine imposed on MTN. Read More
CA rejects misleading reports on Essar saleThe Chairman of the Communications Authority of Kenya board of directors, Ngene Gituku, has refuted allegations of impropriety and unethical conduct around the sale of Essar Telecom Kenya Ltd. Read More
Smart Africa seeks One Africa NetworkICT Ministers and telecoms regulatory bodies meeting in Kigali have resolved to implement the new One Africa regional telecommunications framework initiative this year. Read More
Kenyan mobile operators fail on QoS targetsThe Communications Authority of Kenya says Kenya’s mobile operators have failed to meet Quality of Service standards for the third year running. Read More
Glo Ghana sanctioned for call setup time delaysThe Ghana NCA says it has sanctioned Ghana’s sixth network operator, Glo, for failing in its Call Setup Time obligation within the Greater Accra region. Read More
Facebook post costs Kenyan $50000A social media user in Kenya has been fined Kshs 5million for allegedly defaming a member of parliament on social media; in a ruling that will set a precedent on any future internet cases in Kenya. Read More
BTCL lists on local bourseA journey that began close to a decade ago has culminated in the first successful privatisation of a Botswana state entity – BTCL. Read More
Huawei appointed lead ICT consultant for UgandaHuawei has been appointed as a lead ICT consultant in Uganda, and has named ten Ugandans to benefit from its Seeds for the Future development programme. Read More
FEATURED STORYNigeria satellite resources to boost economic growth
The Management of NigComSat says Nigeria’s satellite resources are primed to help the nation in accelerating robust ICT infrastructure to boost economic development for the country.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHIBM Opens First Cloud Data Centre in South Africa
IBM is opening a new IBM Cloud Data Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa. The new cloud center is the result of a close collaboration with Gijima and Vodacom and is designed to support cloud adoption and customer demand across the continent.
COMPANY NEWSRSA research reveals blind spots in threat detection
RSA, The Security Division of EMC, has released the results of a new Threat Detection Effectiveness Survey.Networks Unlimited event highlights SimpliVity's new Omnistack Software
Leading data protection focused distributor invites hyperconverged vendor to discuss disaster recovery and data protection.MTN and Ericsson lead the way with first LTE-U network
To future proof its business, MTN SA, together with Ericsson, has successfully trialled LTE-Unlicensed (LTE-U) at MTN’s flagship channel store in Morningside, Johannesburg.