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Government ministries, agencies or municipal offices lacking websites or filled with outdated or misleading information, top state officials communicating with Yahoo/hotmail emails, and relying on internet cafés for electronic communication, 15 or 20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
Rwanda’s Minister of Youth and ICT addresses ITU Plenipotentiary ConferenceRwanda’s Minister of Youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana, today addressed the 19th International Telecommunication Union plenipotentiary conference in South Korea. Read More
UNDP donates ICT equipment for DRC electionsThe United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has donated ICT equipment to the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to support the electoral process in this war-hit Central African nation. Read More
Ghana govt to appoint interconnect clearing houseGhana’s Minister of Communication has hinted at the government’s intention of appointing a company to take charge of the country’s interconnect clearing house by the end of this year. Read More
IPO not foreigner-friendlyThe CEO of BTCL, Paul Taylor, has allayed fears that foreigners resident in Botswana will snap up shares reserved for locals when his organisation starts the Initial Public Offering in November. Read More
Congo Brazzaville’s bid to switch to e-agricultureThe Central African nation of Congo-Brazzaville has 10 million hectares of arable land, but has so far used only 2% of that land. Analysts believe that the country could 'move mountains' and eradicate hunger with the use of ICTs in improving agriculture. Read More
Malawi Agriculture transport system automatedIn partnership with Techno Brain, Malawi’s Agriculture Ministry has launched the first Automated Fleet Management Information System in public service in Malawi. Read More
Telecom Namibia starts work on govt fibre networkTelecom Namibia Managing Director Frans Ndoroma says the national telecommunications services provider has started constructing a fibre-based network to connect the central government to the administrative capitals of all 14 regions in the country. Read More
NCC slams indigenous firms over incompetenceThe Nigerian Communications Commission has slammed indigenous operators in the industry over ‘incompetence and culture of impunity’. Read More
Malawi explores initiatives for rural mobile roll-outThe Government of Malawi is exploring ways and means to reach out to the far-flung areas with mobile phone service communication in line with the country’s revised Communications Act. Read More
FEATURED STORYGrowing African focus on data security
Beachhead Solutions’ new SA and Mauritius country manager explains the challenges and solutions around securing customer data and compliance with new personal information legislation.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHAfrica lags on digital migration
Only three African countries have so far completed the digital migration process, and serious issues are hampering the migration in other nations.
COMPANY NEWSVMware reports third quarter 2014 results
VMware, the global leader in virtualization and cloud infrastructure, today announced Year-over-Year Revenue Growth of 18% to $1.52 Billion in its financial results for the third quarter ...CNN, MultiChoice name top African Journalist 2014
Kenyan journalist Joseph Mathenge has been awarded the top prize at this year’s CNN MultiChoice African Journalist 2014 Awards Ceremony.