E-Governance Development in Africa: Overview of Barriers and Challenges for Urban E-Planning

E-Governance Development in Africa: Overview of Barriers and Challenges for Urban E-Planning

Carlos Nunes Silva (Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/ijepr.2013070105
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Abstract

This note explores trends in e-governance development in Africa and examines barriers and challenges confronting the development of Urban e-Planning in the continent. It has three main sections, besides the introduction and conclusion. The first is focused on e-governance development in Africa, examines the overall context of ICT in Africa and assesses e-government progress in Africa; the second deals with the barriers confronting e-planning; and the third discusses the challenges for e-planning implementation in Africa. Despite the overall negative picture of e-governance development in Africa that emerges from this review and the huge barriers it is confronted with, there are signs that it is feasible to have a rapid and sustained progress in the field of Urban e-Planning in the near future. However, considering the low level of conventional urban planning development in the continent, gradual implementation of e-Planning solutions in African cities is recommended.
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Introduction

The widespread use of information and communication technologies in public administration associated with the rapid diffusion of the Internet is one of the main changes experienced by governments and municipalities worldwide in the last decades. This has been described as the move from government to e-government and has been defined in different ways. This transformation in the way government works and relates with citizens and other stakeholders has multiple objectives. Among other objectives, it seeks: to improve citizens’ access to government information; to increase dialogue between government and citizens and other stakeholders; to share knowledge within the community; to allow more efficient service provision; to increase transparency and effectiveness in all tiers of government (Fountain, 2001; 2005; Millard, 2008; Carter & Weerakkody, 2008; Borja & Castells, 1996). A similar change has been experienced in the field of urban planning, described as the move from planning to e-planning (Silva, 2010; 2013; Wallin et al., 2011; Horelli, 2013). In addition to this shift from government to e-government, the organization and the way government works is also being impacted by another process: the move from the traditional hierarchical model of public administration towards networked modes of public service organization and delivery (Silva, 2004) taking advantage of networked forms of organization (Powell, 1990). This process is described as the shift from government to governance (Kooiman, 1993; Castells, 2000; 2007; Castells et al., 2005; Hooghe & Marks, 2003; Silva, 2004) and has important consequences in the way urban planning is organized.

The UN Public Administration Program defines e-government as the use of ICT and its application by governments for the provision of information and public services to citizens and organizations. For the OECD (2003: 23) e-government is “the use of new information and communication technologies, and particularly the Internet, as a tool to achieve better government”. For Coleman (2005) e-government is a mixture of e-administration with e-democracy in the sense that it combines services based on electronic information transactions with citizen participation through the Internet and other digital tools. Other authors put emphasis on the delivery of information and services online with less or no reference to the political dimension. Whatever the exact definition, all tend to agree that e-government includes a broad range of activities, grouped into three main areas: government-to-government, government-to-citizens, and government to business. Government to government is the main component of e-government (e.g., data sharing and transactions between different public departments and government tiers); government to citizen increases and facilitates citizen interaction with government (e.g., payment of taxes, licenses, other forms of transactions); and government to business includes, for example, procurement of goods and services by the government and the sale of public goods and services. In sum, e-government can be seen as the efficient online provision of government information and public service delivery, as well as a form of citizen’s empowerment through access to information and participation in public policy decision-making.

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