Monday, August 08, 2011
Saturday, 06 August 2011 02:00
PRESIDENT Mugabe hands over a laptop to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, while Vice President John Nkomo looks on.
Zimbabwe this week witnessed a historic milestone in the country's road to efficient service delivery led by Government when President Robert Mugabe launched the Electronic Government also known as e-government, digital government, online government or connected government.
President Mugabe said Government was implementing the results-based management programme to improve public service delivery.
"One of the major thrusts of that programme is e-government, which focuses on modernising Government systems and processes through the use of information and communication technologies. This is to mark the launch of this programme, which is co-ordinated by my office in close liaison with the Ministry of Information Communi-cation Technology," he said.
President Mugabe said the programme would enhance Government's ability to provide services to its citizens and stakeholders "in an efficient and effective way".
"Through implementation of the programme, Government will be able to provide online services conveniently through the use of ICTs, bring Government services closer to the people, improve communication between Government and citizens, reduce Government operating expenses and be more transparent and accountable in the manner we provide services," he said.
E-government is digital interactions between a government and citizens (G2C), government and businesses or commerce (G2B), government and employees, and also between government and governments or agencies (G2G).
While e-government is often thought of as "online government" or "Internet-based Government", many non-Internet "electronic government" technologies can be used in this context. Some non-Internet forms include telephone, fax, PDA, SMS text messaging, MMS, wireless networks and services, Bluetooth, CCTV, tracking systems, RFID, biometric identification, road traffic management and regulatory enforcement, identity cards, smart cards and other Near Field Communication applications; polling station technology (where non-online e-voting is being considered), TV and radio-based delivery of government services, email, online community facilities, newsgroups and electronic mailing lists, online chat and instant messaging technologies.
E-government allows for government transparency. Government transparency is important because it allows the public to be informed about what the Government is working on as well as the policies they are trying to implement. Simple tasks may be easier to perform through electronic government access. Many changes, such as marital status or address changes, can be a long process and take a lot of paper work for citizens.
This technology allows these tasks to be performed efficiently with more convenience to individuals. E-government is an easy way for the public to be more involved in political campaigns. It could increase voter awareness, which could lead to an increase in citizen participation in elections. It is convenient and cost-effective for businesses, and the public benefits by getting easy access to the most current information available without having to spend time, energy and money to get it.
It helps simplify processes and makes access to government information more easily accessible for public sector agencies and citizens. In addition to its simplicity, e-democracy services can reduce costs. The anticipated benefits of e-government include efficiency, improved services, better accessibility of public services, and more transparency and accountability.
One goal of e-government will be greater citizen participation. Through the Internet, people from all over the country can interact with politicians or public servants and make their voices heard. Blogging and interactive surveys will allow politicians or public servants to see the views of the people they represent on any given issue.
Chat rooms can place citizens in real-time contact with elected officials, their offices or provide them with the means to replace them by interacting directly with public servants, allowing voters to have a direct impact and influence in their government.
Proponents of e-government argue that online government services would lessen the need for hard copy forms. Due to recent pressures from environmentalist groups, the media, and the public, some governments and organisations have turned to the Internet to reduce this paper use resulting in huge savings on paper as people will print their own forms when and as required.
E-government allows citizens to interact with computers to achieve objectives at any time and any location, and eliminates the necessity for physical travel to government agents sitting behind desks and windows. Improved accounting and record keeping can be noted through computerisation, and information while forms can be easily accessed, equaling quicker processing time.
On the administrative side, access to help find or retrieve files and linked information can now be stored in databases versus hardcopies stored in various locations. Individuals with disabilities or conditions no longer have to be mobile to be active in government and can be in the comfort of their own homes.
Recent trials of e-government have been met with acceptance and eagerness from the public. Citizens participate in online discussions of political issues with increasing frequency, and young people, who traditionally display minimal interest in government affairs, are drawn to e-voting procedures.
There are also some technology-specific sub-categories of e-government, such as m-government (mobile government), u-government (ubiquitous government) and g-government (GIS/GPS) applications for e-government.
The primary delivery models of e-government are classified depending on who benefits. In the development of public sector or private sector portals and platforms, a system is created that benefits all constituents. Citizens needing to renew their vehicle registration have a convenient way to accomplish it while already engaged in meeting the regulatory inspection requirement.
On behalf of a government partner, business provides what has traditionally, and solely, managed by government and can use this service to generate profit or attract new customers. Government agencies are relieved of the cost and complexity of having to process the transactions.
To develop these public sector portals or platforms, governments have the choice to internally develop and manage, outsource, or sign a self-funding contract. The self-funding model creates portals that pay for themselves through convenience fees for certain e-government transactions, known as self-funding portals.
Social networking is an emerging area for e-democracy. The social networking entry point is within the citizens' environment and the engagement is on the citizens' terms. Proponents of e-government perceive government use of social networks as a medium to help government act more like the public it serves.
Government and its agents also have the opportunity to follow citizens to monitor satisfaction with services they receive. Through ListServs, RSS feeds, mobile messaging, micro-blogging services and blogs, government and its agencies can share information to citizens who share common interests and concerns.
E-government's main challenge will be that an e-government site that provides web access and support often does not offer the potential to reach many users including those who live in remote areas, are homebound, have low literacy levels or exist on below poverty line incomes.