The United Nations recently released a survey, E-GOVERNMENT SURVEY 2014: E-GOVERNMENT FOR THE FUTURE WE WANT showing how e-Government initiatives are being applied in various regions of the world.
And Africa is lagging behind. The continent scored lower than any other region in the world. Africa had an average e-Government development index (EGDI) of 0.2661 compared to the global average of 0.4712.
The report denotes: “Tunisia and Mauritius are the two highest-ranked countries in Africa, with Egypt, Seychelles, Morocco and South Africa following closely behind and showing progress as compared with the 2012 Survey. However, Africa as a whole exhibits a regional digital divide with most internet activity and infrastructure concentrated in South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, Mauritius and Seychelles.”
The report ranks Tunisia (EGDI 0.5390) at position 75 globally and top in Africa, while Mauritius (EGDI 0.5338) is second ranked at 76. The majority of African countries score the lowest rankings globally. Angola, Nigeria and Cameroon finish at the bottom in the African region.
The Republic of Korea, Australia and Singapore lead the pack globally in e-Government services with a score of 0.9462, 0.9103 and 0.9076 respectively.
But there are pointers to improved e-Government services across the continent. The United Nations reports that all its member states, including African countries, now have official government portals.
Kenya (ranked at 119) and Morocco (ranked at 82) globally stand as the continent leaders in terms of e-participation. It is where the government welcomes public discussions on various issues through the use of online tools.
Uganda’s UReport is an example of government engaging its citizens through the internet. UReport is a platform that allows Ugandans to speak out on what is happening in their community and it is mapped out. Citizens can engage even using simple technologies as text messaging. The topics are also discussed on various radio programmes.
“Promoting a clear idea and understanding of e-participation by integrating both online and offline communication tools and channels will help reach groups that are difficult to reach. Governments should encourage issues-related participation and provide consistent feedback on consultations to citizens,” the report said.
“Motivating engagement depends more on a sense of belonging to a political community with shared traditions and values than simply civic duty, as it does on linking these directly to the pressing issues of sustainable development.”
Kenya and Morocco have made it to the top 50 countries globally who have initiatives for participation by the public through online means.
Kenya’s Open Data initiative was a first in the East African region, with government bodies releasing their data online, for developers and other external bodies, to make sense of the data. Kenya, Tunisia, Ghana and Morocco are the only countries that have initiated an open data system to their public in the continent.
Data sets would include information on population numbers, health provision across the country, public expenditure and much more government information previously held under lock and key. Read more from the reports on idgconnect.com