East African Local Authorities plan to implement eGovernment

Computing

Local Authorities in East Africa are planning to implement Information and Communication Technologies in an effort to increase efficiency of their operations in service delivery to the citizens. This was the message from the Regional eGovernment for Local Authorities Forum, held at in Kenya recently, writes Harry Hare. This was the first forum of its kind to be held within the region, involving local authority administrators, policy makers and ICT consultants.

A total of 68 participants from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and the new EAC partner states of Burundi and Rwanda took part in the event that was jointly organized by the East African Community Secretariat, the Ministry of Local Government, the Directorate of eGovernment and African eDevelopment Resource Center and supported by the Canadian ePolicy Resource Centre (CePRC).

The Minister for Local Government, Hon Musikari Kombo, in a speech read by the Deputy Permanent Secretary, Mr Reuben Rotich said that an investment in Information Communication Technologies (ICT) is not a competing need if it is properly integrated into mainstream development objectives and that investing in ICT will address the socio-economic issues that are crying out for development.

The Minister, however, cautioned that the implementation of eGovernment projects and ICT in general should not be entrenched into old processes and therefore, automate old and inefficient procedures but find new ways of delivering efficient services using modern technological tools.

“That is why the strategic deployment of ICT for improved government requires political leadership and commitment. Tackling these issues head-on, and striking the right balance between departmental autonomy and central coordination is a demanding, on-going task that has little to do with the technology itself – eGovernment is about Public Service renewal and modernization,” he continued.

The workshop showcased some of the successful implementations of eGovernment at the local authorities. From Kenya, these were Nyeri and Mavoko Municipalities, which have implemented LAIFOMS, a Local Authority Integrated Financial Operations Management Systems, a system that will be rolled out to 60 other local authorities by 2009. Kinondoni Municipality in Dar es Salaam Tanzania took the focus regionally. They have successfully implemented eGovernment systems including: Geographical Information System, Education Management Information System, Loan Master and a Health Information Management System.

Internationally, Korea took centre stage with their KONEPS (Korea Online eProcurement System) application which has won a number of awards including best procurement practice model awarded by UN in November, 2004. In addition, Seoul was jointly ranked number 1 among 100 largest cities in the world due to its eGovernment practices, by the UN Division for Public Administration and Development Management and the American Society for Public Administration.

“One of the aims of the conference was to make eGovernment an attainable reality amongst our regional local authorities. Not only to enable Local Authorities to become a more efficient machinery, but also to ensure satisfaction among the citizens,” said Harry Hare, the Executive Director of African eDevelopment Resource Centre, who were responsible for putting the workshop content together.

During the closing of the Forum a multi-stakeholder approach in implementing eGovernment was encouraged. The meeting made resolutions and urged for their implementation. These included the need for the EAC Secretariat to support the articulation of a regional framework for e-government at local authority level; Partner States work to structure independent ministries or regulatory bodies that deal exclusively with ICT Development and e Government projects; Ministries Responsible for Local Governments budget for the implementation of e-Government in all local authorities; and Private sector provides technical assistance and training along with the provision of relevant technological solutions to governments.