The revolutionary changes that internet and Information & communication technologies (ICT) are bringing to our global society have prompted governments worldwide to develop more advance ways to digitize its routines and practices so that they can offer the public access to government services in more effective and efficient ways.
The use of information technology, particularly the internet, by government to support its operations, engage citizens, and provide services is broadly referred to as Electronic Government (E-Government).
E-Government is a way for governments to use the most innovative information and communication technologies, particularly web based Internet applications, to provide citizens, businesses, government employees, and other agencies with more convenient access to government information and services.
In Ghana, the use of e-Government is rapidly gaining ground. The performance of Ghana in E-Government adoption in Africa is increasing. Ghana started streamlining its institutional and policy frameworks the past few years to capitalize on ICT innovations. This has resulted in a significant improvement in the global E-Government Development Index (EGDI) over the years. EGDI is composite indicator used to measure the readiness and capacity of national institutions to use ICTs to deliver public services.
According to the UN E-Government Survey Report 2018, Ghana is the only African country that transitioned from Middle – to High-EGDI level group since 2016, scoring 0.5390. Ghana is now ranked 5th in Africa and is among the only 6 African countries placed at the High-EGDI level group. The other 5 African countries with Ghana in the group are Mauritius, South Africa, Tunisia, Seychelles and Morocco. Although Ghana recorded great strides in Africa, the country is ranked 101st with that EGDI which is below the global EGDI average of 0.55.
Successful implementation of e-Government initiatives and its continuous improvement in Ghana greatly require citizens’ adoption. High adoption of the initiatives increases the chance that e-Government will facilitate social and economic benefits to citizens which will help to further improve our performance in the EGDI.
What is E-Government?
UN E-Government Survey Report 2014 defines E-government as “the use and application of information technologies in public administration to streamline and integrate workflows and processes, to effectively manage data and information, enhance public service delivery, as well as expand communication channels for engagement and empowerment of people”.
It is also defined by International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in their 2008 Report as “the use of information and communication technologies in government to provide public services to improve managerial effectiveness and to promote democratic values and mechanisms; as well as a regulatory framework that facilitates information intensive initiatives and fosters the knowledge society
E-Government is defined by various sources in different ways but there is a common theme. That is, the use of information technology, most especially the internet, to improve the delivery of government services to citizens, businesses, and other government agencies.
Through e-Government, public administrations around the world can be more efficient, provide better services and respond to demands for transparency and accountability as well as increases the citizens’ trust in the government. E-Government can also help governments to go green; promote effective natural resource management, stimulate economic growth and promote social inclusion, particularly of disadvantaged and vulnerable groups. The success of such initiatives is dependent not only on government support, but also on citizens’ willingness to accept and adopt those e-Government services.
E-Government has therefore become an option for the government of Ghana because the growing demands of citizens and the changing global rules and regulations, have put pressure on governments to deliver at the right time and quality. In the face of these rising demands, e-Government no longer appears to be a matter of choice, but a necessity for the country.
The successful implementation of e-Government initiatives in Ghana greatly requires citizens’ adoption. High adoption of the initiatives increases the chance that e-Government will facilitate social and economic benefits to citizens. However, designing citizen adoptable e-Government initiatives is still a challenge to many developing countries governments including Ghana. To develop e-Government services to gain citizens’ adoption will imply that the government having to know what citizens want from e-Government, meeting their expectations and needs, and actively seeking to discover what citizens want from e-Government.
In part 2 of this article we shall discuss types of e-Government. Watch out for the continuation of this article next week.
Seth Frimpong-Manso – Head of IT, Progress Savings and Loans (Member: Institute of ICT Professionals, Ghana)
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