How can leaders effectively address poor governance and eradicate corruption in Africa?
On XFM this week, we continued with our series on Digital for Development.
We looked at how digital tools can be leveraged by government to solve two of Africa's chronic problems; Poor Governance & Corruption.
We also looked at how digital tools can be used to promote just, peaceful & inclusive societies.
Two major problems facing Africa, according to the citizens in the 44 African countries surveyed in the World Happiness Report 2019, are Poor Governance and Corruption.
This is not the first time these two issues have been mentioned. Various reports in the past 20 years, by different organizations, have also cited the same.
Imagine how efficient government would be if the citizens and officials didn't spend days on bureaucracy & document handling. Imagine how convenient it would be if citizens could access public services from anywhere, at anytime of the day or night.
What are some of the digital tools that can be leveraged by government leaders to address poor governance & systemic corruption?
E-Governance is a strategic tool to improve the competitiveness of the state, increase transparency, increase the well-being of its people while implementing hassle-free governance.
When public services are available to citizens as e-services, citizens can select e-solutions from among a range of public services at a time & place convenient to them.
What is e-Governance?
Electronic governance or e-governance is the application of technology for delivering government services, exchange of information, communication transactions, integration of various stand-alone systems and services between government-to-citizen, government-to-business, government-to-government, government-to-employees as well as back-office processes and interactions within the entire government framework.
Through e-governance, government services are made available to citizens in a convenient, efficient, and transparent manner.
The three main target groups that can be distinguished in governance concepts are government, citizens, and businesses or interest groups. In e-governance, there are no distinct boundaries.
What are some of the benefits of e-Governance?
E-Governance is an array of various digital tools collectively implemented with the citizen at the center of the solution. Countries that have implemented e-Gov initiatives are realizing the following benefits:
Reduction in the cost of governance
Equality of access to information
Elimination of bureaucracy
Efficient service delivery
Reduction in corruption
Increased economic growth
Increased accountability and transparency
How will e-Governance curb corruption?
According to a Transparency International Report, countries successful at curbing corruption have a long tradition of government openness, press freedom, transparency and access to information - all can be achieved through e-Governance.
Access to information increases the responsiveness of government bodies, while simultaneously having a positive effect on the levels of public participation in a country.
Has e-Governance been successfully implemented anywhere?
Estonia is probably the only country in the world where 99% of the public services are available online 24/7. Estonia was named ‘the most advanced digital society in the world’ by Wired. They have built an efficient, secure and transparent ecosystem that saves time and money for their citizens and policy makers.
What does it take for a country to succeed?
E-Governance is a journey and countries looking to embrace e-Governance need to appreciate that there will be mistakes along the way. Studies show that only 2 out of 10 projects succeed.
Success with e-Gov initiatives dependent on three factors:
The first is philosophy and culture driving the initiative; the second is the process undertaken - there has to be a clear appreciation of the starting point, scale of the problem, and the key metrics that will be guiding posts to success; the third is the technology leveraged to realize the outcomes of the initiatives. Getting any one of these three factors wrong will result in failure and wastage of public resources.
When it comes to public projects, credibility, and support from the citizens is key. The citizens have to be part of the solution and any proposed solution that does not co-create with the user is bound to fail regardless of the efforts taken to get right the philosophy, culture, process, and technology.
Public project failures will usually mean the next initiative is almost impossible to get off the ground. To increase the probability of success, it is critical that government leaders build a mechanism within the transformation plan to engage the citizens at every stage of implementation.
Yes, digital tools can be leveraged to promote just, peaceful & inclusive societies. African countries, in pursuit of good governance and the eradication of corruption would be well advised to explore the long-term benefits of e-Governance.
Tune in to Digital Thursday on XFM 94.8 from 9 am to 10 am radio.visiongroup.co.ug
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