UN E-Government Survey in Media
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As inexcusable as the challenges appear to be, investigations have revealed that government is proactive in ensuring that e-Government becomes successful in the provision of basic services to the people, particularly in the emerging technology-driven governance.
According to a researcher with the National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, Engr Salisu Kaka, great challenges for governments in developing nations are to figure out how best to make use of the opportunities offered by ICT to offer good services to the citizenry. He however noted that governments across the globe are integrating computer-based technologies into the centerfold of public administrative reforms to digitize delivery of services as well as the process of governance, stressing that under the right conditions, ICTs offer government effective resources to serve citizens and other stakeholders through electronic government strategies in very exciting and wonderful ways. According to him, the unique virtue of e-Government is that it can improve the quality of services and reduce the costs of delivering services through utilization of scarce resources, encourage citizen participation while enhancing accountability and transparency. It also expands the role of markets and restores citizens’ trusts in government. Kaka said, Nigeria as a nation, has strived to make use of ICT to improve governance at different levels, saying, ”it can be said that there is a relative success being recorded in the country’s quest to adopt and implement e-Government process, adding that the little success recorded by the country through electronic and e-Government projects has not been visible due to lack of national framework that would guide development of e-Government projects while integrating them at various levels of development.” For instance, the e-Government Development Index, EGDI, of the United Nations e-Government Survey for 2014, revealed that limitations in ICT infrastructure and human capacity pose greatest challenges, particularly in low-EGDI countries with constraints of public resources. The report revealed that in low-EGDI countries, there is a shift towards intermediary channels such as kiosks and postal offices, having bigger roles in facilitating access and driving usage of e-government services to disadvantaged and vulnerable groups.
The report also revealed that progress in Africa remains relatively slow and uneven as only six countries, namely Tunisia, Mauritius, Egypt, Seychelles, Morocco and South Africa have EGDI values above the world average of 0.4712, placing them among the top 50 percent of the world. On the other hand, about 30 percent (16 countries) of the 54 African countries are at the bottom 10 percent of the world while Nigeria ranks 141. Nigeria rose to 141 out of 193 countries rated in the UN Global e-Government Development Index for 2014. It was also ranked 97 in the e-Participation index, an improvement of 22 points up from 75 in 2012. The UN said countries in the region need to focus on building human capital, including ICT literacy and bridging infrastructure gaps to provide enabling environment for e-Government development, adding that visionary strategies and practical implementation plans should follow for effective deployment of sustainable online services. Despite the efforts, a University don from the Department Of Public Administration, Faculty of Management Sciences,
Lagos State University, Dr. Francis Nchuchuwe said that the challenges of e-Governance in the country are the same with other developing countries of the world. He noted that adopting technologies without developing human skills and capacities to manage, integrate and sustain them, is affecting e-Governance, adding that centralizing the use of technologies by national government departments without devolving the benefits of technology to intermediary institutions such as local government, parliament, parties, civil society organizations and the independent media are some challenges of e- Government. He said failure to link better governance to broader and more inclusive democracy, which gives voice to those who cannot afford technologies, but have needs and ideas to express are affecting e-Governance. Nchuchuwe suggested that to overcome the challenges of e-Governance in the country, there should be purposeful leadership for e-Governance to excel, noting that the political leaders should demonstrate enough commitment to the course of upgrading governance to meet the demands of time through the adoption of ICTs in government businesses. He added that regardless of leadership changes, the ICT policy should be constant and must not change along with the government, saying providing the right amount of funds at the right time would ensure that the demands of e- Governance projects are met on time. Meanwhile, the Acting Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, Mr Vincent Olatunji said that at least 50 percent of cities in the country would be e-Governance compliant by the year 2019. He said that the agency was keen to promoting the development of smart city technology and projects as key national policy through its e-Government Unit, adding that the e-Government unit of the agency had put in place some key projects owned by states government to ensure that state were working toward compliant. According to him, the agency was working at an extremely conservative rate of one smart solution in each zone annually, exclusive of Abuja and Lagos, which had special status in the programme saying “with this, we are confident of going ‘smart’ in over 50 percent of our cities by 2019.”
“The projects include traffic flow management, smart flood management, secondary school learning hubs, smart solutions for managing Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), smart Internally Generated Revenue Systems and Integrated Public Transportation Systems”, he added. He therefore disclosed that NITDA is demonstrating a new service delivery paradigm based on multi-stakeholder engagement to develop, deploy and manage smart solutions for the benefit of the Nigerian citizen explaining that with an annual urban migration rate of 3.7 percent of national population, the pressures on infrastructure and the environment call for new actions and solutions to fix challenges of pollution, traffic congestion, electricity, water, affordable housing, health and education. According to him, NITDA is set to promote Internet of Things (IoTs) and e-Governance standard platforms and tools in which disparate systems owned by different federal and state service entities communicate and share information.