“e-government is a highway only accessible by few”, FGD participant
Surely the statement above is false, how can a highway be accessible by a few?
E-government services have brought numerous benefits including faster turnaround times and better accessibility of public services, however few citizens enjoy the full benefits. Last year, iHub carried out a research on Government responsiveness on the ICTs launched, which surfaced several shortcomings on some of the systems launched. The research took a deep dive into 5 ICT tools deployed by the national government and 3 county ICT platforms (read more, here, here and here). It is interesting to note that although governments are adopting ICTs, the key building blocks that enable a responsive e-governance platform are often overlooked.
Responsive e-governance services provide services that are convenient and simple to use. Convenient meaning systems that fit within citizens' plans or activities and simple to use, meaning citizens should not face challenges in accessing or using the service. From our research findings, it was clear that e-gov platforms bring technical challenges that need to be addressed in order to increase uptake. The findings are listed below;
- Citizens will uptake ICTs because of convenience, but the tools must be consistent to meet citizen needs and concerns.
- Huduma centres are da bomb!
- E-governance services are imposed on citizens, without any training or nationwide campaign, therefore citizens rely on intermediaries, for instance cyber cafes.
- ICTs should be regularly updated and have sufficient information on the tools
- Government employees too struggle with the platforms and some departments lack the technical manpower necessary to develop and maintain ICT tools, over time, their usage is minimised.
Some of the recommendations peddled for a responsive platform include, education campaigns to increase the number of users and uptake of multiple platforms to allows users access information and give feedback. A responsive e-government platform requires 1) infrastructure, 2) content, 3) feedback and 4) constant reevaluation.
No system is foolproof, but working towards making it better is crucial to achieve digital maturity. In the subsequent weeks, we shall do a deep dive into what a responsive e-governance service looks like and how citizens can get involved to further this work.