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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

Enabling citizens to access, use e-government services

20th January 2012

Designing electronic services is an important step towards useful and usable e-government for citizens. E-government is the utilization of online services to deliver government information and services to citizens.

Today, a lot of 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 members of the public 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 expectations of citizens.

Considering this importance, Tanzania Global Development Learning Centre (TGDLC), which links the world through learning, in collaboration with Institute of Finance Management (IFM), has organized on February 20-24, this year, a face to face workshop on developing value added for e-government services for citizens to take place in Malaysia.

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 utilization 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 and executive leaders and those, who have been prepared to assume leadership roles.

Workshop contents include but not limited to planning and managing choices in the development of e-government services, identifying and profiling users of organizational e-government services, constructing, implementing, maintaining and evaluating e-government services, approaches for citizen involvement and experience sharing in the development of e-government services.

E-services are becoming common in today’s world because of advancement in and application of ICT. Last year’s ICT training to fast-track e-government in Dar es Salaam is an indication that Tanzania is no longer a spectator in e-government services. The TGDLC organized an extensive training of over 200 government executives with a view to fast-tracking the enforcement of e-government.

“The enforcement of e-government needs skilled manpower and without proper training, the implementation of e-government programmes will remain unrealistic,” said TGDLC training coordinator Dickson Mwanyika at the ICT international conference, which was opened by Vice-President Dr Mohamed Gharib Bilal and drew ICT experts and Specialists, government ministers and representatives of civil societies and ICT companies from across the world.

So, e-government is needed today because of changing world operational systems to work and enhance efficiency in both the public and private sectors.

"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," Mwanyika said.

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 TGDLC 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.

The government has tasked TGDLC 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 TGDLC, e-government Agency and the Ministry of State in the President’s Office (Public Service Management).

Through its ICT facilities, TGDLC has linked the world through learning – that is, capacity building programmes meant to inculcate in participants requisite skills needed in their career development and work environment.

TGDLC is a government institution and a member of the Global Development Learning Network (GDLN). Its four core values are customer service, pursuit of excellence in service, integrity, diligence to duty and innovation.

Its mission is to develop skills and competences of public servants, the private sector and civil society personnel for the delivery of excellent services through distance learning and using the cost-effective state-of-the-art technology.

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