Digital Divides and Grassroots-Based E-Government in Developing Countries

Digital Divides and Grassroots-Based E-Government in Developing Countries

Farhad Hossain
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-947-2.ch277
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Once properly managed, e-governance can add tremendous dynamism in reforming public administration and can change the mode of interaction between the state and its citizens. However, concerns regarding digital divides and the challenges of e-governance in the developing states of Africa, Asia, and Latin America are growing. If the factors contributing to digital divides are not carefully identified and properly solved, there is a growing risk that in the coming years digital resources might become the preserve of the “haves,” while ignoring the plight of the “have-nots” as they seek access to resources in developing countries. The current Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan (2000) provided the insight that new information and communications technologies are bringing people together, and bringing decision-makers unprecedented new tools for development. At the same time, however, Mr. Annan added, the gap between information “haves” and “have-nots” is widening, and there is a real danger that the world’s poor will be excluded from the emerging knowledge-based global economy. E-governance in this article could be referred to as the use of digital devices, usually by public authorities, when dealing with their public, private and non-profit stakeholders. E-governance comprises a practice, process, or activities through digital means and could equally be practiced by different stakeholders in managing public affairs. While in contrast “e-government” is defined by Shafritz and Russel (2003) as conducting any aspect of government business operations over the Internet—from providing information by government to paying bills to the government. This article examines and analyzes the current status of emerging electronic and Web-based governance (e-governance) in developing countries. In doing so, the article outlines the market model, participatory state model, flexible government model, and the deregulated government model presented by Professor Guy Peters for reforming governance. In light of the above, the article brings forward the emerging issues of governance, e-governance, and the possibility of shared governance. Emerging e-governance is reshaping the process of administrative reforms in developing countries—which requires fresh academic research and a scholarly contribution.

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