African Leaders Embrace ICTs for Service Delivery

Published on 2nd May 2011

The 5th annual e-Governance Africa Forum, attended by  some 150  delegates from twenty countries spread across the world, especially Africa, ended in Yaoundé, Cameroon, with both public and private sector stakeholders resolving to intensify all efforts to improve governance and service delivery through the use of information and communications technologies (ICTs). Organised by the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO), and hosted by the Government of Cameroon through its Ministry of Posts and Telecoms and the Telecommunications Regulatory Board (TRB), the conference was under the theme "Governance, Service Delivery and Democracy through the use of ICTs."

Discussions at the conference centered on important e-Governance issues from the perspectives of policy, regulation, infrastructure financing, network development and public-private-partnerships.

Declaring the conference open through a speech delivered on his behalf by the Cameroon's Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, Hon Jean-Pierre Biyiti bi Essam, the Prime Minister and Head of Government of Cameroon, H.E. Philemon Yang said that Cameroon acknowledges the great potential that ICTs can bring to the country and has embraced a number of initiatives in a bid to expedite the development of programmes in various areas of the country.

He said, "As a country we believe in the potential benefits of adopting governance processes that allow for greater participation of the people." He also acknowledged that ICTs, through e-Governance can help the country and the rest of Africa to accelerate its socio-economic development. H.E Yang listed a range of examples of ICT interventions undertaken by the Cameroonian government, and concluded by admonishing participants to offer their contributions in all forms to ensure that Africa's e-Governance initiatives are successful to the benefits of the people.

In his welcoming remarks, the CTO's CEO, Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, emphasised what effective e-Governance was all about, noting that increasingly most countries have recognised the need to have a National e-Governance Policy in order to translate their e-Gov vision into reality. He noted the growing and enormous power of ICTs to transform nations and society, and urged developing countries, especially those in Africa to "cheetah pole-vault" policies, regulations and technology, and not just "leap-frog" them,  if they hoped to catch up with the industrialised world. He recommended that countries adopt the "PROFIT" model in examining what progress they were making in their e-government efforts. He described the model as permitting countries to examine their e-Governance policies (the P), their regulations (the R), their operating environment (the O), the available financing (the F), the state of ICT infrastructure (the I), and the technological choices (the T) that they need to make to make e-governance initiatives more affordable to citizens, businesses and communities. He expressed the wish that participants realize the importance of human resource capacity-building in making ICTs work for government, and the CTO over the years has done a lot to train many experts in its member countries to help implement e-Gov projects.

An address on "Smarter e-Government" by a representative of Huawei Technologies, Mr. He Ming, Vice-President of Network Solutions, focused on some of the partnerships and technological innovation that is making it possible for many countries to provide numerous e-Gov solutions that empower citizens and make governments far more efficient.  He noted that good e-Gov initiatives allow the public to enhance their trust in governments, and this in turn allows for smarter governments.

By driving transformation through ICTs, governments can "leapfrog" to higher service levels, he said. Emerging governments are now becoming more interconnected, he said. Progressively, such governments become interactive, integrated and finally, virtual. Mr. Ming further noted that e-Governance becomes smarter government when the public is able to take full advantage of government policies and services and where civil servants work efficiently on service based user demands, leading to enhanced quality of life for all.

Other presentations at the conference were made by government officials and business executives from Senegal, Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia, South Africa, the UK, USA, China, Israel, Switzerland, Poland, Austria, Ghana, Botswana, Uganda, Sweden, Gabon, Chad and Central African Republic. Among the sponsors and exhibitors at the Conference were Microsoft, Ericsson, HTT, MTN, Cisco, Kofax, 4DAfrica, IwayAfrica, Thales, Austria's OSD, Nadra from Pakistan, and Huawei Technologies.

Courtesy: Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO)

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