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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

Using ICT to enhance government/client relationship

26th April 2012

E-government is the use of online services to deliver government information and services to citizens. Nowadays some government information is accessible online more than it was in the past.

It is meant to engage the citizenry in governance and allows government transparency, as citizens are informed of what the government is doing and the policies being implemented to facilitate social development.

E-government increases efficiency, improved services, better accessibility of public services and more transparency and accountability. E-government service managers need to be equipped with adequate skills and knowledge on how to develop services that will meet citizens’ expectations.

Tanzania Global Learning Agency (TaGLA), which links the world through learning, in collaboration with the Institute of Finance Management (IFM), has organised a videoconference workshop on implementing e-government services for citizens on May 28-31, this year.

The videoconference has been designed to prepare e-government service developers for better service delivery. Its contents include planning and managing development of e-government services, identifying and profiling users of e-government services, development, implementation, maintenance and evaluation of e-government services. Others are involving users in the development of e-government initiatives, experience sharing in development of e-government services.

The workshop offers a unique opportunity for developing competencies for steering structural changes taking place in public services and thus creating a mindset of e-government related to the utilisation of information communication technology (ICT) to transform and enhance the relationship between the public sector and its clients through improved services. It targets senior officers, executive leaders, middle and operational level ICT personnel, system analysts, programmers, web developers, systems and network administrators.

E-government relates to the utilisation of information communication technology (ICT) to transform and enhance the relationship between the public sector and its clients through improved services. It directed towards improved management of public finance and human resources, access to and quality of public services, particularly for poor people, improving investment climates, such as lowering regulatory burdens and transaction costs and transparency and accountability of governments.

Successful implementation and adoption of e-government initiatives and related services is dependent on the quality of involved human capital of the government and its partners.

Unfortunately, many developing countries including Tanzania still lack appropriate human capacity to support e-government. This situation leads to poor planning and implementation of e-government initiatives.

As a result, initiatives become costly and eventually fail. The failure of e-government initiatives has adverse consequences, such as a loss of scarce resources, including taxpayers’ and sponsors’ money, time and loss of citizen trust.

A decrease in training budgets and an increase in demand for new skills have created increased opportunities for TaGLA to bridge the knowledge gap through the use of technologies, mainly videoconferencing and multimedia applications. Other demands include spreading the services beyond the city of Dar es Salaam to increase access to more people countrywide and cope with fast changing technologies.

TaGLA as an institution is growing rapidly and demand for its services continue increasing. Such growth has necessitated for a new way of operating and a legal status, which will best position the agency to support ongoing reforms and the entire public demands for better services.

It is, therefore, important that government human capital is equipped with appropriate knowledge, skills, awareness and mindset that facilitate successful implementation of ICT projects in the government.

“The enforcement of e-government needs skilled manpower and without proper training, the implementation of e-government programmes will remain unrealistic,” said TaDLA training coordinator Dickson Mwanyika at the ICT international conference opened by Vice-President Dr Mohamed Gharib Bilal last year. As ICT advances, e-government is needed today because of changing world operational systems to work and enhance efficiency in the public sector.

According to Mwanyika, Tanzania is not lagging behind in these unfolding developments, as the government has already launched a special e-government programme and put it under the supervision of the E-Government Agency.

This follows the ongoing construction of the national ICT broadband backbone (NICTBB), which demonstrates the government's commitment to promote ICT and enforce e-government in public delivery systems.

According to the TaGLA training coordinator, “these positive initiatives must be supported by human resources capable of helping the government realise its e-government dreams.”

The national fibre-optic cable, which is part of the East African Submarine System (EASSy) connecting 12 eastern and southern African countries to the global marine fibre-optic cable, was commissioned in 2008.

“No country can today make any meaningful social progress without proper ICT investment,” said Dr Bilal at the opening of the conference, who also appealed to African governments to invest more in ICT to facilitate knowledge transfer and cope with global developments more effectively.

According to Dr Bilal, Tanzania has recorded notable strides in education in terms of ICT applications and infrastructural expansion.

He said schools, colleges, vocational centres and polytechnics needed to be installed with proper ICT facilities to make students acquainted with computer applications and skills.

In light of this, the government has tasked TaGLA to help government executives from national, regional, district to local government levels to be acquainted with ICT applications and e-government. An e-government training project is implemented by TaGLA, E-government Agency and the Ministry of State in the President’s Office (Public Service Management).

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