The global concept of making government information more accessible for public, has had countries strive embrace technology and implement the concept of e-governance.
The uptake of information, communication and technology (ICTs) immensely contributes to the development of a seamless understanding of government operations, which is more participatory, transparent, accountable, auditable, effective, efficient, communicative, and interactive.
The bottom-up characteristic of e-governance, enables citizens to become the main actors of the governance process; whereby they are active participants rather than passive users. For example, iTax is one of the services that has streamlined the filling of taxes easing the ordinarily long queues for all and sundry.
Besides, the e-citizen portal has transformed the access of most government services to the citizenry. What is more, this concept is being embraced by the private sector who are encouraging their clients to transact online.
As such e-governance enhances transparency and accountability, useful for improving civil participation among the citizenry.
Therefore, e-governance systems facilitate the access to information and communication opportunities as well as serves as a powerful tool to improve control and transparency and to link people, organisations, groups, information, and knowledge. Besides, the systems foster openness of reporting.
For example, government reports on financial situation, strategic vision, and public policies are published on institutional websites for public access and feedback.
Secondly e-governance enhances citizenry participation whereby they are neither subordinates nor customers; but are perceived as partners in government and involved in phases of public policy, implying that administrations are transparent and public information is accessible.
E-governance increases the transparency in the system and also facilitates decision making. Through government, citizens are invited to participate in decision making in some cases and situations. For example, during public participation of bills, decision making is facilitated by the government by involving and allowing the citizens in online communities and e-forums and the citizens can give their recommendations and suggestions.
This creates a dynamic environments for government operations. Notably, web 2.0 technologies, improve participation conditions with citizens as the main actors in the governing process, users of services and auditors of public agencies, making citizen participation the most important component in understanding e-governance.
Lastly, e-governance is an enabler to citizens’ ability to audit government operations. The use of ICTs in governance provides ways for citizen access to government documents available online for feedback.
This provides savings in terms of time and effort consumed in search of documents manually.
Despite the government efforts to enhance e-governance, with the aim to improve the living standard of the citizens and to develop business and employment, there are bottlenecks that have continuously hindered its uptake.
This may include the lack of awareness among citizens about e-services and the shortage of workers equipped with knowledge and technical skills.
Such gaps impede the progress of the realisation of government agenda in promoting e-governance. What is more, the inclusivity of the systems leave those who are disabled at a disadvantaged position whereas this can be seen as an opportunity to improve upon the systems to accommodate all and sundry.
Nancy Marangu, via email