Permanent Secretary to the President of Botswana Eric Molale

By John Churu, Gaborone, Botswana

The first day of the two-day 2012 ICT Pitso culminated in the launch of the much anticipated Botswana National e-Government Strategy 2011-2016 (abridged 1 Gov 2011-2016) .

According to a preamble in a government blueprint that explained the need for such a strategy e-Government, which is the use of ICT and the internet web to render public services, commenced about 20 years ago and is now commonplace in developed countries. Since ten leading jurisdictions have used e-Gov not only as a means of improving government service delivery, but also as a catalyst for driving the broad modernization of the public service.”

In a foreword to the 1 Gov Strategy, the president of Botswana, Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama, said: “The National e-Government Strategy 2011-2016 is an important contribution to the ongoing development of our country. For Botswana to flourish and prosper in the 21st century, we need to become innovative users of ICT and have a high performing government that provides convenient efficient electronic services to all our citizens. e-Government can help achieve both of these objectives and the 2011-2016 e-Gov Strategy provides the roadmap to get there.”

During a keynote speech, the Chairman of the e-Government Board and also the Permanent Secretary to the President of Botswana Eric Molale said the strategy will result in a new way of doing business. “For e-Government to be successful, all our ministries will need to introduce major changes in technology, business processes and organisational structures. We will have to learn new skills and competencies and work tirelessly to elevate our services standards to new heights.”

He added that they asked for input from all the stakeholders and the strategy was as a result of the input of these stakeholders. “We have incorporated your ideas and that government systems have to be efficient and sensitive to all our customers around the world,’ he told the gathering. While the Minister of Transport and communication dubbed the strategy, “an important contributor to our ongoing development of our country.”

The effective introduction of e-Government is very important for the future development of Botswana. According to the proponents of e-Gov, the project can help raise public sector service quality to greater heights, allowing citizens to access government information and services at any time of the day and without having to travel long distances to wait in queues or spend too much time in government offices, with an increasing number of citizens and businesses going online to access government services.

“Through online service, government touches people, and makes their lives simple. This will turn, stimulate the acceleration of our national ICT programme and contribute directly to the country’s ongoing development and growth,” said an e-Government statement.

As the Botswana government heads towards a seamless government, the strategy is seen to have assembled a “suite of integrated initiatives” informed by the experiences in other parts of the world. “The stage is set, What remains according to the strategy pacesetters, “is for Government  to work with a broader society to enable the delivery of e-Government for Botswana’s transition to a knowledge society.”      

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