E-Government Growth Barriers in Sub-Saharan Africa

E-Government Growth Barriers in Sub-Saharan Africa

Princely Ifinedo (Cape Breton University, Canada)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 6
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-845-1.ch028
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Abstract

E-government, as described by the World Bank, is the use of information and communications technologies (ICT) to transform government by making it more accessible, effective, and accountable to its citizens (InfoDev, 2004). E-government involves the utilization of technologies such as the Internet to improve the services, functions, and processes of governance (Heeks, 1999, 2001, 2002; Moon, 2002). Although, the Internet is vitally important for the process, it has to be pointed out here that e-government is more than establishing a Web server and hosting government sites (Sanchez, Koh, Kappelman, & Prybutok, 2003; Sharma and Gupta, 2003). In fact, Heeks (2001) describes e-government as i-governance or integrated governance, a process that permits the integration of both the processing of information by people and the use of communication technologies in achieving the objectives of governance. The United Nations Division for Public Economics and Public Administration and the American Society for Public Administration (UNDPEPA/ASPA) state “E-government is about opportunity…to provide cost effective services to the private sector…to enhance governance through improved access to accurate information and transparent, responsive, and democratic institutions” (UNDPEPA/ASPA, 2003, p. 6).
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Introduction

E-government, as described by the World Bank, is the use of information and communications technologies (ICT) to transform government by making it more accessible, effective, and accountable to its citizens (InfoDev, 2004). E-government involves the utilization of technologies such as the Internet to improve the services, functions, and processes of governance (Heeks, 1999, 2001, 2002; Moon, 2002). Although, the Internet is vitally important for the process, it has to be pointed out here that e-government is more than establishing a Web server and hosting government sites (Sanchez, Koh, Kappelman, & Prybutok, 2003; Sharma and Gupta, 2003). In fact, Heeks (2001) describes e-government as i-governance or integrated governance, a process that permits the integration of both the processing of information by people and the use of communication technologies in achieving the objectives of governance. The United Nations Division for Public Economics and Public Administration and the American Society for Public Administration (UNDPEPA/ASPA) state “E-government is about opportunity…to provide cost effective services to the private sector…to enhance governance through improved access to accurate information and transparent, responsive, and democratic institutions” (UNDPEPA/ASPA, 2003, p. 6).

Furthermore, e-government is indeed an emerging model involving the citizenry and the state in such a way that the importance of citizen’s input in policy formulation and implementation is recognized and valued (Breen, 2000). Wimmer and Traunmuller (2001) contend that the main objectives of e-government should include the following: (1) restructuring administrative functions and processes; (2) reducing and overcoming barriers to coordination and cooperation within the public administration; and (3) the monitoring of government performance. Similarly, the World Bank (InfoDev, 2004) provides a guideline for developing countries with respect to developing e-government. The body asserts that e-government initiatives should target the following:

  • • Promote civic engagement by enabling the public to interact with government officials and vice versa

  • • Promote accountable and transparent governments in which the opportunities for corruption are reduced

  • • Provide a greater access to government information and activities

  • • Provide development opportunities, especially the sorts that benefit rural and traditionally underserved communities

Advances in ICT over the past decade have accelerated the diffusion of e-government practices in both developed countries and developing countries (Accenture, 2004; InfoDev, 2004). According to the UNPAN (2005) e-government survey, almost all the governments in the world have embraced one form of e-government or another. It goes without saying that many developed countries have incorporated sophisticated services while other nations are just beginning to understand the importance of such a concept in governance (Accenture, 2004). A majority of countries in Africa fall into the latter category. The limited use of ICT in governance in the disadvantaged regions of the world, including Sub-Saharan Africa—this is the region of Africa excluding the northern part of the continent and the Republic of South Africa—has resulted in generally low rankings on the various indices used to compare e-government readiness across nations and regions (UNPAN, 2005). Indeed, the e-government readiness score for the whole of Africa is 0.253, which is below the world’s average of 0.415.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Institutional Problems: These refer to organizational and cultural barriers that may negatively impact the growth of e-government services in a country.

Infrastructural Problems: These include challenges such as the lack of relevant infrastructure e.g. the Internet, electric power generation needed for e-government initiatives in a country.

Information and Communications Technology (ICT): These include technological products such as telephones, computers, the Internet, and so forth, which are used to convert, store, protect, process, transmit, and retrieve information.

Internet: This is a global network of interconnected computers using multiple protocols.

E-Government Readiness Index: This is an index for comparing e-government initiatives around the world.

E-Government: This is the use of ICT to transform government by making it more accessible, effective, and accountable to its citizenry.

Sub-Saharan Africa: This is the region of Africa excluding the northern part of the continent and the Republic of South Africa. Examples of countries in the region include Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, and Kenya.

Integrated Governance (I-Governance): This refers to the integration of both the processing of information by people and the use of ICT in achieving the objectives of governance.

Human Capital Problems: These refer to barriers including poor financial and technological resources that may negatively impact the spread of e-government projects in a country.

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