Profiles and Evolution of E-Government Readiness in Africa: A Segmentation Analysis

Profiles and Evolution of E-Government Readiness in Africa: A Segmentation Analysis

Niguissie Mengesha (Brock University, St. Catharines, Canada), Anteneh Ayanso (Brock University, St. Catharines, Canada) and Dawit Demissie (Fordham University, New York, USA)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/IJISSC.2020010104

Abstract

E-government has been one of the top government strategies in recent years. Several studies and projects have attempted to understand the scope of e-government and the measurement framework that can be deployed to track the readiness as well as progress of nations overtime. Among these initiatives is the United Nations Public Administration Network (UN PAN) that assesses the e-government readiness of nations according to a quantitative composite index based on telecommunication infrastructure, human capital, and online services. Using the UN PAN index data from 2008 to 2016, the article profiles African nations using unsupervised machine learning technique. It also examines the resulting cluster profiles in terms of theoretical perspectives in the literature and derive policy insights from the different groupings of nations and their evolution over time. Finally, the article discusses the policy implications of the proposed methodology and the insights obtained.
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Introduction

Electronic government (e-government for short) is about delivering public services and information to citizens, businesses and governments electronically (Kim, Pan, & Pan, 2007). It is the use of ICT to promote more efficient and effective government. E-government redefines the interaction between administrations and customers (such as citizens, businesses and other administrations), and creates an electronic, minimal, more transparent, agile and accountable state (Ciborra, 2005). It increases accessibility of government services, allows greater public access to information, and makes governments more accountable to citizens (Hafkin, 2009; Verkijika & De Wet, 2018). E-government has the potential to improve the quality and efficiency of processes, and reduce administrative burden on citizens, businesses and other administrations by making their interactions with public administrations efficient, convenient and transparent (Heeks, 2002). It is also one of the channels to enhance public trust in government through increased accountability and empowerment of its citizens.

The realization of e-government demands governments to restructure and redefine their back-office and front-office processes, develop the necessary infrastructure, educate and train citizens, and put in place the necessary regulatory frameworks (Ciborra, 2005). Like other information systems implementation processes, e-government implementation requires changing organizational practices and processes, contextualization of IS products, integrating systems, dealing with organizational and social effects of the change, and making sure the various users utilize the new system. The political environment and national policies, more importantly, whether a government is open to political reform or not, are among the factors that determine the success of e-government (Lee, Tan, & Trimi, 2005). Although at various stages, nations of the world have implemented e-government and have been rendering digital information and services to their customers.

In the past, multiple initiatives by international organizations, consulting firms, and academic investigators, have studied the various aspects of e-government. Several researches have studied the e-government readiness and status of nations using several benchmarking and ranking indices and models (Máchová & Lnenicka, 2015). Some of these models particularly focus on benchmarking online services or websites (Rorissa & Demissie, 2010; Verkijika & De Wet, 2018; West, 2004), follow a more generalized approach with a focus on processes and services (Kunstelj & Vintar, 2004), and use a more broader model that includes tools to measure infrastructure, education and online services (UN/DESA, 2016). These evaluations and researches focus on the construction of e-government indices with a primary focus on ranking nations. While these evaluations and indices are vital to discover and communicate the current state and rank of each nation’s e-government status (Kunstelj & Vintar, 2004), and serves as a good benchmark for nations to track their ranked positions from time to time, a mere increase or decrease of a nation’s rank by few positions does not provide a bigger picture on their evolution towards making a major transformation over time. A nation’s attempt to bring major transformations need to be informed by its past and current profiles and the movement from one comparison set to another. In other words, like the digital divide in ICT development stages, if there is a major disparity in e-government status among groups of nations, it is important for a nation to set its goal based on this disparity and strive to advance to a high-achieving comparison set.

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