e-Government Implementation in a Developing Country: A Case Study

e-Government Implementation in a Developing Country: A Case Study

Marvine Hamner (LeaTech, LLC, USA), Martin A. Negrón (George Washington University, USA), Doaa Taha (Independent Consultant, USA) and Salah Brahimi (Grey Matter International Ltd, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0086-7.ch011
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Abstract

When e-Government projects fail, the costs to developing countries can be extraordinarily high. Therefore, the importance of understanding the risks, the ability to manage those risks, or when necessary, to minimize the costs, is incredibly important. One way of developing this understanding, of determining how to manage the risks present, is to study real-world examples. This case study explores one developing country’s attempts to implement e-Government. These attempts have taken place over a roughly twenty year period and four different administrations. Millions of dollars have been spent, but an interactive, inter-agency e-Government system remains elusive. The reasons for this are described in this case study along with relevant country political and economic data. The conclusion is that until the political turmoil within this country is resolved, e-Government, and likely many other government initiatives, will continue to be unsuccessful.
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Introduction

When Lester Thurow (1997) began writing about the new knowledge-based economy he obviously believed he understood all the implications a knowledge-based economy would have for countries around the world. Since the story is still unfolding, whether Thoreau was correct or not is not yet known. Further, the full impact of a global knowledge-based economy is not yet known. In the early years of development leaders asked questions about how information and communication technologies should be developed and implemented in their countries. Primarily they asked these questions from a technical perspective; but, they also asked them as they worked to define and design public policies and systems that would enable real growth for their countries and their citizens. Looking back from where we are in the winter-spring of 2011 it is not clear that in 1997 anyone could have realized that the implementation of information and communication technologies could have so profoundly reshape the world we live in.

In 2000 the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) issued its report “Latin America and the Caribbean in the Transition to a Knowledge-Based Society: An Agenda for Pubic Policy.” In this report ECLAC asserts that broad consensus exists with regard to the potential contribution of ICT to social development, i.e. “telemedicine, distance learning, telework, digital libraries, etc.” (ECLAC, 2000). ECLAC’s report specifically made the point that the implementation of ICT could be a “double-edged sword,” having not only positive potential but also inherent danger.

In the eyes of many, ICTs are associated with optimistic scenarios in which increased access to information will give rise to more open, more democratic societies and social relationships. Viewed from this perspective, ICTs would appear to have an internal potential for helping to create less exclusionary societies and enabling countries that lagged behind to “leapfrog” stages in the development process and thus move more swiftly towards inclusion in the information and knowledge-based world. Others, however, feel that a new form of exclusion underlies the trend towards the computerization of economic and institutional life; this exclusionary pattern is seen as a force that bolsters society’s existing inequity and exclusionary mechanisms. In point of fact, the “digital gap” separating the industrialized countries from developing nations is even wider than the gap defined by other indicators of productivity and of economic and social well-being; this is also true of the gaps between high-income and low-income sectors within individual countries. (ECLAC, 2000)

It may be impossible to determine the exact monetary amount, or quantity of resources used to develop and implement information and communications technologies (ICT) around the world. Many developing countries have been investing significant percentages of their gross domestic product (GDP) on implementing information and communication technologies and related infrastructure (Qazi, 2009). Even with this seemingly incalculable investment, today it is frequently reported that the digital divide continues to widen. In his Human Development Report Modoux (2002) asserted that this ongoing widening could ultimately result in a “cyber ghetto.”

In a 2010 report, “Monitoring Caribbean Information Societies,” ECLAC reported that while mobile telephony penetration (in the Caribbean) is nearly 100%, broadband penetration rates were still in the single digits. Table 1 shows this is true only of some emerging and developing countries, others have significantly higher levels of broadband penetration. Data for some developed countries are included in Table 1 for comparison.

Table 1.
Broadband penetration in randomly selected emerging and developing countries (Miniwatts Marketing Group, 2011). *Broadband penetration represents the percent of the total population of a country that uses broadband.
CountryBroadband Penetration*
Brazil3.4
Mexico3.5
Turkey4.8
Russia2.0
Poland6.9
India0.2
China3.7
Spain16.7
France22.3
Singapore21.8
Bermuda36.5

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