Towards Active Citizen-Centric E-Government Systems for Developing Countries

Towards Active Citizen-Centric E-Government Systems for Developing Countries

Olusegun Folorunso (University of Agriculture, Nigeria), Catherine Chen (Ball State University, USA), Nazim U. Ahmed (Ball State University, USA) and Thomas Harris (Ball State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/jea.2012040104
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Abstract

The importance of citizen’s participation in government cannot be overemphasized. Governments in many developing countries have made efforts, in spite of their infrastructural and financial limitations, to uphold the virtues of participatory e-governance with limited success. A major cause of this elusive success is the design of e-government platforms, which doesn’t encourage usage by the stakeholders of e-government. Many governments in developing countries are settling for other means to communicate with citizens. In this work, a new architectural framework is proposed that uses knowledge management facilities to enhance web-based e-governance and encourage participation, thus allowing for the elicitation of knowledge from online discourse. The country examined in this article is Nigeria. However, it is likely that many other African and developing countries have similar experiences. This work will aid in the improvement of web-based e-government platforms for such countries.
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1. Introduction

The adoption of e-governance seems to have improved throughout the years (Rohkan, 2011; Bwalya et al., 2011). Reasons for this improvement include an increase in the level of awareness of the government and the citizens, as well as consequent active and proactive steps by both parties to achieve success. To further clarify the statement above, consider e-governance as a commodity for which supply and demand exists. The government and her agencies, which are assumed to be demographic, control the supply of the e-government commodity. The demand implies the consumption of e-government by the populace. The supply is achieved through information systems, government practices, information sharing, electronic-based transactions, and technology, to mention a few. As with a normal commodity, the quality of e-government services supplied by the government will affect people’s demand for it. Therefore, an e-government will be deemed a success when quality demand is met with quality supply. Olawale (2009) and Heeks (2002) agreed that many developing countries, especially in Africa, do not succeed at e-governance. Some of the reasons that were given are the poor state of infrastructure, inadequate finance, leadership mindset, lack of awareness, and manpower. Smith (2011) also highlighted the issue of e-government as a crucial issue though these reasons are true to a very large extent; this work gives a clearer view that is more considerate of the developing nature of government in developing countries. The reasons also seem to cover a broad spectrum of causes of failure in all aspects of e-government, which include Government-to-Government (G2G) Interactions, Government services through its agencies, Government-to-Citizen (G2C), etc. The aspects of e-government that are shown in Figure 1 are adapted from Awad and Ghaziri’s (2004) work.

Figure 1.

Focal domains for e-government initiatives

To achieve an incisive view, this work focuses on only one aspect, which is participatory e-governance through which the government can involve their people in decision-making and policy design. For this part, most of the causes of failure described in Olawale (2009) and Heeks’ (2002) work do not stand strong. There seems to be an increase in the use of social networking sites, especially Facebook, by African leaders, including the present President of Nigeria, to communicate with their people. The Nigerian Government and aspiring leaders used Facebook during 2011 general election in Nigeria for tasks that stem from campaigning to discussions and the passage of information. Before the 2011 election, the Nigerian President replied to posts on his Facebook page, which some believe affected his final policies (Jeremy, 2011). This trend depicts a true picture of a dynamic nation, whose leaders are forced to shift in the direction of technology and development to ensure meaningful discourse with its people. Another example is the extensive use of the web and mobile technologies in Nigeria, by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other agencies, to aid in the monitoring and reporting of the 2011 election. These examples show an increase in awareness and acceptance of e-government, contrary to the old image painted by Heeks (2002).

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