Presentation on theme: "Prospects of Nigeria’s Action Agenda for Better Citizen Engagement Through ICT for Development Reuben Muoka Head, Media and Public Relations Nigerian Communications."— Presentation transcript:
Prospects of Nigeria’s Action Agenda for Better Citizen Engagement Through ICT for Development Reuben Muoka Head, Media and Public Relations Nigerian Communications Commission WSIS 2010 Forum EGM E-Government and New Technologies: Towards Better Citizenship Engagement and Transparency May 13- 14, 2010
e-government In this presentation, e-government and e-governance are seen as a set of similar concepts that though mutually exclusive, are intricately interwoven in the drive to realize citizen engagement in the process, programmes and actions of government in achieving effective governance. e-government: in the perspective is essentially the application of electronic resources and tools by government to transform internal and external relationships and processes for effective administration. Research Report tagged e-Governance and Developing Countries defined e-governance as “ the application of electronic means in (1) the interaction between government and businesses as well as (2) in internal government operations to simplify and improve democratic, government and business aspects of governance.” The operative word in this definition is interaction because governance does not end with government and in fact, there could be governance at various levels including political, corporate and social governance. “e-Governance (according to Commonwealth Centre for E-Governance, 2007) differs from e- Government: the latter constitutes the way public sector institutions use technology to apply public administration principles and conduct the business of government; it is government using new tools to enhance the delivery of existing services. E-Governance includes the vision, strategies, planning, leadership and resources needed to carry this out, such as the ways that political and social power are organized and used. Included within the concept of e-Governance is e-Democracy, which deals with how the citizen interacts with government or influences the legislative or public sector process.” The implication of this analysis is that there could be an e-government, where the government has fully deployed ICT solutions for effective performance without achieving e-governance whose emphasis is on the interaction between government and its publics. On the other hand, a well deployed e-government systems and tools that are well implemented will facilitate or accentuate effective e-governance. The Commonwealth Centre for E-Governance, 2007 also affirmed that e-government objective targets internally focused processes (operations) and externally focused services. The external being to satisfactorily fulfil the public’s needs and expectations on the front-office side, by simplifying their interaction with various online services. The use of ICTs in government operations facilitates speedy, transparent, accountable, efficient and effective interaction with the public, citizens, business and other agencies. It from these perspectives that we wish to situate the current status of e-government and citizen engagement in Nigeria.
E-government in Nigeria “… we have adopted a national policy for Information and Communications Technologies … with emphasis on Public-Private-Partnership … to ensure that our country is part of the evolving Information Society … ” - President O. Obasanjo at UN-WSIS, Geneva, Dec 2003. The statement, captures the obvious desire of then President of Nigeria to adopt the culture of e-governance in the conduct of government business. The President was in Tunisia in 2005. This was followed up in March 2004, with the launch of 'The Nigerian National eGovernment Strategies & Implementation Roadmap‘ instituted National eGovernment Strategies, NEGST (www.negst.com) This vehicle is a joint venture conceived as a Public Private Partnership.www.negst.com The tripartite joint venture was registered as National eGovernment Strategies Limited, NeGSt comprising Government (5%), Consortium of Banks (15%) and a Strategic Partner (80%). The mandate of this joint venture is to create a practical strategy and a single architecture to guide the evolution of digital government solutions with consistent standards, operating platforms and applications across agencies and government systems. NEGST facilitated the deployment of an e-government portal
Activating Nigeria’s e- government A major statement of objective of NeGSt is that it “seeks to provide governments at all levels and arms world-over, with value for money e- Government project conceptualization, design and procurement, striking a healthy balance between Costs, Revenue and good Governance”. It further states that “the import of NeGSt’s business model is changing the way government business is done with emphasis on the due diligence, transparency, efficiency and delivery. The first roll out of NeGSt services took place on Tuesday, 23rd of May, 2006 in Abuja with the launch of the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria, TRCN eRegistration initiative will allow all existing professional teachers, new teachers requiring new registration with TRCN to enter and update their records in the TRCN database from anywhere and at anytime. NeGst had set up e-Nigeria – the Nigerian National eGovernment Portal (www.enigeria.com.ng). This website provides connectivity for some online services from government and agencies of government.www.enigeria.com.ng In the Nigerian Communications Commission website at www.ncc.gov.ng, tweeter can find a companion. NCC is a government organization in the forefront of the promotion of e-government and Internet penetration.www.ncc.gov.ng Galaxy Backbone Plc, a public enterprise of the Federal Government incorporated in 2006, has the mandate to set up a Unified Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure platform that addresses the connectivity, transversal and other technology imperatives for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government. In that case, there is a conscious effort to implement e-government at highest level of government.
Nigeria’s e-Government Indicators Beyond these actions by the government at the Federal level, most government ministries and agencies have websites with portal where citizens can download appropriate documents and respond to application requirements where necessary. The Nigerian Communications Commission, the telecom regulatory body, provides downloadable documents for telecom operators and stakeholders @ www.ncc.gov.ng. Application forms for standard national passport can be obtained from the Nigerian Immigration Services website. The Federal Inland revenue Services, FIRS, has ample information about payment of taxes for the citizens and corporate bodies. Some Institutions like the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, which conducts examinations for entry into Nigerian universities, has all the necessary information required by the applying students online. A number of State governments and government agencies have set up dedicated websites. Most of these state government believe they have implemented e-government. Many state governments in Nigeria have websites that provide information about the actions and activities of the state like the Rivers State website in the next slide which actually conducts opinion about government performance by the citizens. The private sector has completely embraced e-governance. People are tweeting with local companies. Some are advertising on facebook already and are practically applying different web 2-0 technologies.
Websites and Web 2.0 Tech Applications: Critical Review e-government is much more than deploying websites. It becomes more meaningful when it improves democratic participation, accountability, and transparency in governance. Essentially, e-government becomes real when it allows for full citizenship participation in governance. This is why the integration of interactive technologies like Web 2.0 technologies become crucial. In Nigeria, these technologies are more visible in the private sector than between and among government agencies and ministries. There is hardly any government ministry or institution where today’s Web 2.0 technologies are considered a credible medium of communications. These websites are being deployed more for the purpose of improving the speed of transactions rather than to achieve citizenship participation in democratic governance. In spite of these shortcomings, the level of e-government deployment at various levels of government in Nigeria has satisfied three out of the five-stage model as categorized by the UN, as indicated in the next slide. Government is pursuing a programme of putting the nation among one of the world’s biggest 20 economies in the year 2020. With ICT recognized by government as one of the enablers of this proclamation, what may be required is just to drive home this point.
UN’s Five Stage E-Government Model StageDescription I – EmergingA government’s online presence is mainly comprised of a web page and/or an official website; links to ministries or departments of education, health, social welfare, labour and finance may/may not exist. Much of the information is static and there is little interaction with citizens. II – EnhancedGovernments provide more information on public policy and governance. They have created links to archived information that is easily accessible to citizens, as for instance, documents, forms, reports, laws and regulations, and newsletters. III – InteractiveGovernments deliver online services such as downloadable forms for tax payments and applications for license renewals. In addition, the beginnings of an interactive portal or website with services to enhance the convenience of citizens are evident. IV – TransactionalGovernments begin to transform themselves by introducing two-way interactions between ‘citizen and government’. It includes options for paying taxes, applying for ID cards, birth certificates, passports and license renewals, as well as other similar G to C interactions, and allows the citizen to access these services online 24/7. All transactions are conducted online. V – ConnectedGovernments transform themselves into a connected entity that responds to the needs of its citizens by developing an integrated back office infrastructure. This is the most sophisticated level of online e-government initiatives and is characterized by: - Horizontal connections (among government agencies) - Vertical connections (central and local government agencies) - Connections between governments and citizens (including e- participation) - Connections among stakeholders (government, private sector, academic institutions, NGOs and civil society)
Prospects of Citizen engagement The application of Web 2.0 technologies like Twitter, Facebook and blogging in its various formats are still alien within the realm of government’s interaction with the citizens. But indications from the private sector in Nigeria is positive. Websites belonging to private sector organizations have applicable web 2-0 technology applications. By end of March 2010, about 1.2 Million Nigerians were on FaceBook. Facebook is among the three most visited websites by Nigerians. This is an indication that this may soon be picked up in government circles. Having made inroads into three of the UN recognized e-government stages that usher citizenship engagement, Nigeria has the potentials to achieve a full scale e-government in the near future if she surmounts some major challenges. The NCC has initiate projects to improve broadband Internet such as the State Accelerated Broadband Initiative, SABI, aimed at extending broadband Internet services to all the states of the country, and the Wire Nigeria Initiative (WIN) aimed at improving fibre optic connectivity across the country are pointers to a positive future. Two major international submarine optics fibre cable projects Glo 1 and MainOne are expected to begin services and will improve Internet usage, speed penetration, and would ultimately improve e- government.
Challenges of e-government and Citizen Engagement The linkage between e-government and good governance has been defined by the United Nations Public Administration Network: "The strategic use of ICTs in government can result in a more inclusive, effective, efficient, transparent and accountable public administration, which will be key to improved economic development and competitiveness. Moreover, in enhancing the quality and delivery of public services through ICTs - especially in education, health, social security and social welfare government may be better positioned to reduce poverty, redress inequality, and promote sustainable development" (UNPAN, 2005).. Some key challenges facing application of full scale e-government in Nigeria are include Low Internet Penetration: With more than 78 Million telephone subscriptions today in contrast with only some 24 Million Internet subscription s ( 16% of population) by year end 2009, penetration still remain low in Nigeria. This will ultimately offer limits to social networking possibilities. Broadband Internet subscription stands at an estimated 800,000 at present. Broadband Internet offers potentials for citizen engagement. In a situation where e-government deployments in ministries and agencies are predominantly of snail speed connections, the objective of quality citizen engagement can hardly be achieved. Among the top echelon in government, the benefits and potentials of social networking applications for efficiency of government-citizen interaction is not yet appreciated from the perspective enunciated by UNPAN as indicated above.
The World is invited One of the key solutions to improving the level of e-government in Nigeria is attraction of huge investment in broadband infrastructure that will deepen Internet penetration. The NCC has pronounced this an area of focus in the next few years with incentives for investors. Awareness through capacity building among key government operatives responsible for deployment of e-government infrastructure is very crucial and multilateral bodies like UN, ITU, UNESCO, CTO among others are invited to push such initiatives. Persuasion of government at the highest level to institutionalize e-government. When this level of government is convinced, the rest of the job would be nearly done as it would take a directive for all government agencies to become e-government complaint in the way prescribed by the UN. Institutions propagating the ideals of e-government, such as the Nigerian Communications Commission, and other organizations formed to improve e- government initiatives need some form of support or assistance from some of agencies indicated above. Nigeria is a democratic nation where the voices of the citizens matter. In a situation where majority of these citizens are not well educated to push their individual and collective desires from government, those desires will remain unattended. Therefore, there is need for citizen mobilization and education for e-government which improves transparency. The UN and similar bodies are in the best position to support the citizens in this area. Nigeria has a very vibrant parliament. Awareness programmes targeted at the members by the UN will create a lot of impact in this direction. If the topmost level of government is converted, the job is done because the foundation has been laid.
References Michiel Backus ‘E-Governance and Developing Countries Introduction and examples,’ RESEARCH REPORT. No. 3, April 2001 www.ftpiicd.org/files/research/reports/report3www.ftpiicd.org/files/research/reports/report3 The Promotion of E-Governance in Developing Countries: Reflections on E-Government in Two Asia-Pacific Countries by Carolyne Stanforth and Mary O’Flynn(Prato CIRN 2008 Community Informatics Conference: ICTs for Social Inclusion: What is the Reality? Refereed Paper http://www.negst.com/