Digital Government Revisited – III

Institutions matter, more so for the development and implementation of Digital Government (DG), whose core target is public institutions’ transformation. On the one hand, public institutions should have an array of capacities to ensure public investments in digital technologies are effectively managed from beginning to end. In many low-income countries, such capabilities are exiguous or conspicuously absent. On the other, digital technologies are a means to foster public entities’ responsiveness and effectiveness, thus increasing their overall capacity to deliver established legal mandates.  Juggling these two seemingly contradictory propositions in sustained fashion is one of the core challenges governments face when designing and deploying DG, especially in the Global South, where state capacity

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E-government Development II

In this sequel post, I will look at the various components of the UNDESA e-government index and then introduce the EIU democracy index to explore potential interlinks between the two,


The e-government development index (EGDI) comprises three distinct components 1. Online services. 2. Telecom infrastructure. And 3. Human capital.  While the last two are obtained from external data sources (ITU, UNESCO, UNICEF), the first one is directly developed by the UN.  A combination of website checking and a questionnaire sent to UN member states is used to generate the required data – albeit the data is not publicly available. The e-participation index comes from the same source.

The telecom index relies on user access to the Internet, mobiles, analog phones, and broadband. The human

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E-government Development I


Running on the coattails of the now infamous dot-com bubble, e-government first saw the light of day before the end of the last Millennium. At that time, where hype overtook the tech scene yet again, adding ‘e’ (as in electronic) to almost any theme became quite fashionable. First in the scene was e-commerce (and e-business) which foreshadowed the 1994 launching of Amazon, among others, followed by its successful IPO three years later. Surely, governments could also master the emerging digital technologies to improve their core functions while fostering increased efficiency, transparency, and accountability. Most governments in industrialized countries quickly jumped into the e-government wagon while emerging economies such as Estonia, Singapore, and South Korea were determined not to

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Status of ICT diffusion in Nigeria

I have been engaged on a short term Nigeria-based consultancy on the role ICTs1 Just in case, ICTs = Information and Communication Technologies. could play in promoting citizen engagement in public policy and decision-making processes – or what some call e-participation.

Part of the job requires research on the rate of ICT diffusion in the country at the state level as the project being designed will operate at the subnational level. For our purposes, ICTs include both Internet and mobile phone, and the use of social media platforms by local stakeholders. The usual expectation is that the highest levels of poverty and overall socioeconomic inequality are accompanied by lower ICT diffusion rates.nigeriaregions

Getting data for national ICT diffusion is relatively easy as they are in fact multiple

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1 Just in case, ICTs = Information and Communication Technologies.

Relation between ICT Adoption and State Capacity


According to many observers, the rapid diffusion of new ICTs such as the Internet and social media has empowered people worldwide. Today, social media users, for example, have direct access to the public sphere and can thus launch campaigns to sway public opinion. These new channels have given voice to millions of people who previously could not be part of open discussions on issues that affected their lives.

statecapacityGovernments, national and subnational, are also users of new ICT platforms that, in most cases, are beyond their own jurisdictions and do not require passports. Governments thus need to have defined strategies to promote the use of ICT and social media in policy and decision-making processes and foster the delivery of public services for all.

Harnessing ICTs for such

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Governments, Crowdsourcing and Innovation

citizensDualRoleThe paper on the role of governments in crowdsourcing I presented at the last ICEGOV 2014 gathering in Guimaraes, Portugal, is now available here – in this blog. The paper was supposed to be published by ACM press as part of the proceedings of ICEGOV.  However, the proceedings are still not available in the ICEGOV web site, nor at the ACM site. In any event, we have chosen a publishing license that allows the authors of the paper to publish it on their own web sites. Note that copyright still applies to this material (please read the license before downloading the paper!).

The paper makes the case for government to harness crowdsourcing as one potential way to improve service delivery and foster people participation in selected public policy-making processes. It presents a governance-centered

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Pakistan Interview: e-governance and development

ICT Review - coverI gave the following interview to a local business newspaper during my mission to Pakistan. The interview was published on 15 December.

BR Research: You have previously worked in Pakistan. How was the e-governance situation like back then, and how is it now?

Raul Zambrano: It was back in 1993 when UNDP launched an initiative called the Sustainable Development Networking Programme (SDNP) that aimed at bringing access to development content via new technologies. Working with out local office here in Islamabad and using local expertise and human resources, we set up email nodes in four cities including Peshawar, Lahore and Karachi in addition to Islamabad. We essentially provided email access to the Internet and trained lots of people on how to effectively harness the new technologies to

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