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Prospects of Nigeria’s Action Agenda for Better Citizen Engagement Through ICT for Development

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Title: Prospects of Nigeria’s Action Agenda for Better Citizen Engagement Through ICT for Development


1
Prospects of Nigerias 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

2
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 publics 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

3
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.
  • 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

4
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5
Activating Nigerias 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 NeGSts
    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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

6
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7
Nigerias 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
    _at_ 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.

8
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9
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 todays 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 worlds 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.

10
UNs Five Stage E-Government Model
11
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
    governments 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.

12
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.

13
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.

14
References
  • Michiel Backus E-Governance and Developing
    Countries Introduction and examples, RESEARCH
    REPORT. No. 3, April 2001 www.ftpiicd.org/files/re
    search/reports/report3
  • The Promotion of E-Governance in Developing
    Countries Reflections on E-Government in Two
    Asia-Pacific Countries by Carolyne Stanforth and
    Mary OFlynn(Prato CIRN 2008 Community
    Informatics Conference ICTs for Social
    Inclusion What is the Reality? Refereed Paper
  • http//www.negst.com/
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