We received a request from the RR in Tunis on the above. Apparently, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is keen on moving on this as e-visas are a) a good way to capture revenue; and b) a starting point for strengthening security concerns at the national level -with some inherent risks involved in terms of human rights. At any rate, below is what I shared with the RR.
1. Many developing countries have embarked or are in the process of embarking in initiatives such as this, ranging from India and Argentina
to Moldova and Turkey. Most are lead by Foreign Affairs (FAs) and are usually not linked to other national ICTD or e-governance strategies.
2. In general, we can identify two approaches. The first, which we can find mostly in MICs, uses internal resources and capacity to deploy
either self-developed systems or customized commercial options. In most of these cases, e-visa is part of a larger effort to link FA offices
around the work and the rationale for doing this basically security and confidentiality – using commercial systems might weaken this a bit
unless software audits of procured packages is possible. Internal management and admin capacity is required to make this work. Argentina
is a good example here.
3. The second is to outsource the whole package to a third party who will deploy the solution which in turn could be hosted somewhere in the
cloud. This is the approach used in poorer countries and for e-visa platforms that are not necessarily linked to FAs office communications
and interconnectivity. There are of course variations of these two approaches which can be thought of and customized for local realities.
4. FAs need to be aware of the pros and cons of each approach, avoid taking a purely technical approach to the issue and have clear policies
and guidelines in regards to security, confidentiality and privacy of communications among public institutions and between them and potential
5. Such policies and guidelines will in turn demand that government takes a more comprehensive approach to public ICT investments in public
institutions and thus act in more coordinated fashion. In this context, factoring in existing policies and strategies and involving relevant
sectors in the process can make a huge difference in terms of sustainability and impact. In Tunisia for example we have the
e-administration coordination unit who is also focal point for OGP and other ICT related initiatives.
6. Public sector ICT investments are usually done in ad hoc fashion and are not linked to public administration modernization/reform. The same
can be said about the latter which usually tends to ignore ICTs. This could this be a good opportunity to connect all the dots with the aim of
pushing Open Government principles. At any rate, let us try to avoid the quick fix here..
Hope this helps.