Improving Local Governance through ICTs in Africa: The Findings from Login Africa Three Years Research

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What do we mean by e-government? This concept, synthesized by Heeks (2001) as "the ICT-enabled route to good governance", points to the system of solutions for public administration that are based on …

What do we mean by e-government? This concept, synthesized by Heeks (2001) as "the ICT-enabled route to good governance", points to the system of solutions for public administration that are based on the toolkits of digital technology. The use of ICTs for speeding up citizen-government transactions in India, for digitalizing the Thai government, for supporting the purchaser-provider separation in the British health system, all point in the same direction: ICTs, over the last decades, have been plied to reforms that are market-oriented in character. As a result, a managerialist view dominates, reducing success and failure to performance indicators, borrowed from the domain of the private sector. But is e-government really all about efficiency and market incentives? Or do the effects of computerization on citizens' quality of life, and the potential for democratization in interactions with government, have a place in understanding the e-government sphere?

When we shift our focus to countries that suffer from institutional frailty, the dimensions of accountability, transparency, and democratization emerge as primary objectives to be pursued within government. Madon's (2009) work is illuminating in this respect: computerized health facilities in Karnataka, e-inclusion through telecentres in Kerala, the use of information systems for self-employment programmes in Gujarat, tell a story that constitutes an implicit challenge to the efficiency-centred, neoliberal view of digitalization in the public sector. Experiences of e-government in developing nations, rather than ascribing to the panacea of investing in ICTs for achieving development, should be examined through a contextual lens: this leaves standard prescriptions and market orientation on the one side, and takes into account the complexity and specificity of the political environments involved.

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  • 1. Improving Local Governance through ICTs in Africa: The Findings from Login Africa Three Years Research Keynote on Knowledge and ICT4 D 1st Workshop of the I Think Innovation Network in Rome on ICT4D,October 24,2011 organised by Dr. Roberto Masiero Mammo Muchie: DST/NRF Research Professor, IERI-TUT, South Africa, Professor, Aalborg University, Denmark, SLPTMD Senior Research Associate, Oxford University
  • 2. Outline
    • Inspiration
    • Introducing the Log-in Research
    • The model on E & H Government & Governance
    • Some of the Findings
    • Suggestion for Future Research
    • Concluding Remark
  • 3. Inspiration
    • ” There is a natural asymmetry of information between those who govern and those whom they are supposed to serve ”(Stiglitz, 2002)
  • 4. Inspiration
    • ” E- governance is never going to be really effective, unless it is tied very closely with the right to information: On the other hand, RTI is not going to be very successful and in fact, a failure, if it is not tied with the concept of E-Governance”(Chief Information Commissioner of India)
  • 5. Inspiration
    • ” It is possible to assess the status of a given country by creating a compositie index comprising the web measure index, the telecommunications infrastructuire index, the human capital index and the e- preparation index.”(UN, 2008)
  • 6. Inspiration
    • ” It is possible to implement e- governance without necessarily having a decentralisation policy.”(Tim Waema, p.284)
  • 7. The Three Years Login-Research
    • Involved 10 countries with LIC,MIC,LMC,UMC,HIC variations
    • With different e- readiness
    • With research teams from the local areas
    • Funding from IDRC
    • Team leader from Kenya; Prof. Tim Waema at university of Nairobi
    • Scientific advisors ( Prof. Joseph Kizza and Prof. Mammo Muchie)
  • 8. Some of the Output
    • e- governance site Exhibitions in Cairo and Mauritius, open to the public
    • Workshops every year from Cairo, Nairobi and Mauritius
    • Policy makers and ICT service providers invited
    • Demonstration of some of the e-goverance promoting schemes developed in the research
    • Final conference
    • Books, and scientific papers
    • Road map
    • Suggestions how to include more African countries in the follow up research
  • 9. The Model
    • Many countries in the study do not have an e- governance policy
    • Nearly all of them in the study have national e- Governance strategies and policies
    • By conducting this research the locality was high lighted
    • Linking the local with the national and Africa was encouraged to draw lessons from good and failed practice to promote e- governance
  • 10. Combining E with H
    • Distinction between Government and Governance
    • Between E -Government and H- Government
    • Between E- Governance and H-Governance
    • Between E- Government and H-Goverance
    • Between H- Government and E-Governance
    • Combining E & H Government with E& H Governance
  • 11.  
  • 12.  
  • 13. Assumptions
    • Context for e- governance matters: it matters where Africa is today in the Governance index
    • In Africa in general the assumption is that going for more e- is seen to make government function
    • Governance to improve
    • More H is seen to retain corruption
    • More e- is seen to reduce it
    • Of course more empirical research is required!
  • 14. Some of the Findings
    • Specific to each country and policy impact
    • Impact on UNDP’s indicators
    • Shared challenges
    • Ideas for follow up
  • 15. Specific success:a few examples
    • -From the Ethiopian study the city Government requested the source code and manuals to implement e-services
    • From Morocco local governments allocated budgets to implement an electronic civil registration system
    • Kenya was however consigned to do a workshop to get high officials’ buy in
    • South Africa reported a workshop to encourage buy in
    • Mauritius got more business buy in.. A reported 117 businesses
    • Egyptian team developed a business process mapping methodology developed in this research and the Government adopted it!
  • 16. The UNDP idicators
    • Partcipation
    • Tranparency
    • Accountability
    • Efficiency and effectiveness
    • Rule of law
    • Responsiveness
    • Equity
    • Results mixed,, and uneven
  • 17. Shared recommendation
    • Development of e- government and e-governance policy for local Government
    • Less awareness for the local must change
    • More African countries must be included
    • The research must continue but must also be relevant
    • Need for North-Africa research teaming critical!
  • 18. Concluding Remark: future research
    • We need to combine ICT4D and STI4D
    • Include civil society researchers with university
    • North- with South
    • Medalics ICT research programme
    • Include doctoral and post doctoral researchers
  • 19. Concluding Remark:
    • Include also Globelics
    • The African Globelics Doctoral Academy
    • The Nesglobal Network
    • The Journals
    • Workshops mainly in Africa, Asia and latin Americ
    • Be inclusive
    • Smart
    • And sustainable both in continuing the research and the use, application and uptake of the results for relevant policy learning!
  • 20. Concluding Remark:
    • E goverance research must be led by practice
    • Practice must also emerge from research
    • The two must be combined
    • And both with policy learning
    • I ask you to build cooperative and productive links.
    • Thank you very much.
  • 21. Some Useful Sources
    • Url for the ICT book introduced here