19 November 2012

Africa: E-Governance Leads to More Effective Government

press release

Electronic governance is key to achieving reforms in public administration, said Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma.

Speaking at the opening of a one-day conference on e-Governance for Small States held at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London, UK, on 19 November 2012, the Secretary-General said e-Governance facilitates improvements in public financial management, anti-corruption and enhances efficiency in service delivery.

He added that mobile governance which has been made possible by the technological advancements in cellular devices where digital pathways have been created to improve governance through citizen participation. M-Governance, said Mr Sharma, can deepen democracy by empowering citizens in decision-making through interactive as well as instantaneous communications.

The Secretary-General stated that the Commonwealth Secretariat is working with Swaziland to develop its e-Governance strategy after providing similar assistance to Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Montserrat and Tonga.

E-Governance promotes participatory governance as it facilitates citizen feedback on policy-making, said Max Everest-Phillips, Director of the Governance and Institutional Development Division of the Secretariat.

"E-Governance enables the delivery of increasingly cost-effective, personalised and relevant services to citizens, as well as enhances the democratic relationship by building better democratic dialogue between citizens and their government," said Mr Everest-Phillips.

He added that e-Governance can deliver huge development gains. But the lack of telecommunications infrastructure and education, compounded by a lack of integration of ICT policies into development planning, inadequate regulatory framework impede inclusion and participation for all.

"E-Governance can transform government into a cohesive and integrated institution to improve the legitimacy of the state and strengthen inclusive sustainable development," said Mr Everest-Phillips.

He said the Secretariat's e-Governance programme focuses on improving transparency through open data and reducing corruption through online government services. Mr Everest-Phillips said e-Governance is useful in strengthening communications between politicians and government officials which can build confidence and trust which are critical during a transition of power.

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