E-Documents and E-Signatures in Tanzania: Their Role, Status, and the Future

E-Documents and E-Signatures in Tanzania: Their Role, Status, and the Future

Ubena John (Stockholm University, Sweden)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0324-0.ch005


This chapter analyses the use of e-Documents and e-Signatures in Tanzania with a view of establishing their legal status, applicability, and the future of such technologies in e-Government systems. That is important as Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is widely employed in Tanzania. Moreover, the development and application of information systems is influenced by law. Therefore, the problem investigated is twofold: First, legal status, validity, and admissibility of e-Documents and e-Signatures in evidence in Tanzania are questioned. Second, the challenges facing the establishment of e-Government in Tanzania are explored. The chapter is a qualitative study, i.e. library- and desk-based research. Various literatures focusing on e-Documents and e-Signatures are reviewed, analysed, and evaluated so as to draw a conclusion on the relevancy of e-Documents and e-Signatures in the e-Government projects in Tanzania. The literature analysis conducted found that there is a lack of legal framework to recognize e-Documents and e-Signatures compounded with poor ICT infrastructure in Tanzania. This scenario puts e-Government endeavours at risk. It is recommended that the government should enact the laws to recognise e-Documents and e-Signatures to boost e-Commerce as well as e-Government.
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Generally, the development of ICT systems for e-Commerce and e-Government, depend on legal validity of the e-Document and e-Signature (Schartum, 2010; Sjöberg, 2005b). The legal validity of e-Documents and e-Signatures in Tanzania is linked with the emergence of commercial banking and liberalisation of the telecommunications sector. The sections below provide a short history of ICT application including e-Documents, e-Signatures, e-Government, and e-Commerce and their related laws in Tanzania. In addition, the chapter blends the views of other scholars to support or refute the assumptions put forward while simultaneously demonstrating author’s own position on the topic.

Key Terms in this Chapter

ICT: A broad range of technologies that process, store, retrieve, disseminate or communicate information from one location to another. One of its remarkable features is that it is unbound by geographical borders and distance. A good example is Internet.

E-Signature: An electronic or digital mark or sign that is legally valid, produced by means which is secure normally used for authentication or identification or for securing authorization, etc.

E-Commerce: This is understood to mean a process of conducting business or commerce in the electronic environment. In other words, it is the use of ICT to conduct commerce, e.g., concluding contract online, to buy various goods or services online, etc.

E-Evidence: Facts that are extracted from electronic records, tools (such as computers, mobile phones or any other information (ICT) systems) that are deemed relevant and admissible before the court of law for the purpose of proving or disproving facts in issue.

E-procurement: This is a process of conducting procurement process online. The tendering, bidding process and issuing of procurement contract are all conducted online. The procurement tender is advertised online, the bidders submit their bids online and the decision i.e., offers of the contract is issued online.

Information System: A system that produces or processes, retrieves, communicates or stores data. Such system is normally represented by Information and Communication Technologies.

E-Document: A digital document generated by information (ICT) system such as computer, multimedia, etc.

Legal Infrastructure: Totality of processes, tools, documents, and other information systems such as telecommunication networks, Internet, etc., that form the basis or facilitates the daily functioning of a particular legal system. Such tools include document management systems, case management systems, decision making systems, record management systems.

E-Government: A process or initiative of moving government business to an electronic environment. It includes automation of government activities, Networking of government businesses, In other words it is the offering of government tasks through electronic interface/means.

Legal Validity/Status: A tendency or feature of being legally recognizable. A situation where the law stipulates that a particular fact or thing is accepted or recognized by the law of a particular jurisdiction or legal system. Thus such right or duty is legally enforceable before the court of that particular legal system.

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