BY Emma Elebeke
A United Nations e-Government Survey for 2012, says Nigeria has dropped in e-government global development index. According to the report, Nigeria dropped from 0.2687 in 2010 to 0.2676 in 2012, which indicates a decrease in the level of the acceptance by both government and private individuals in the country.
The report, which centered on e-government development in the largest population countries of the world, also indicated that Nigeria with a population of 158 million people is the least developing country among the top 11 most populated countries of the world, in terms of usage and application of e-governance by both the government and the citizens.
For instance, countries like Japan and Mexico with lesser populations of 127 million and 113 million advanced from 0.7152 per cent in 2010 to 0.8019 per cent in 2012 and 0.5150 per cent in 2010 to 0.6240 per cent in 2012 respectively, while countries like China and India with higher populations of 1,341 billion and 1,225 billion people, also advanced from 0.4700 per cent in 2010 to 0.5359 and 0.3567 per cent in 2010 to 0.3829 per cent in 2012, respectively.
E-government refers to the use of information technologies such as the internet and mobile computing as a platform for exchanging information, providing services and transacting with citizens, businesses, and other arms of government. It is a mechanism to provide government services, through innovative channels, in a Customer-Centric manner.
With this development, the report further indicated that lesser Nigerians can boast of internet connection due to unaffordability of access. It also showed that most Nigerian government and public websites are not known to the citizens, which also negates frequent visit of such websites by the people.
According to the report, most public websites in the country are usually not relevant or up to date with the information available and also lack adequate IT infrastructure and skilled staff, as a result of low acceptance of the system. It therefore suggested four operating models for e-government, which could aid Nigeria’s aspiration of ensuring full implementation of e-governance. These are:
Government to Citizens — It urges Nigeria to establish the G2C communication link between a government and private individuals or residents to offer filing, drivers license or e-voting services.
Government to Businesses — The G2B model is the online non-commercial interaction between government and the commercial business sector that grant licenses, permits or business registration to the applicants.
Government to Employees — Under the G2E model, the report is urging the country to introduce the model for online interactions between government units and their employees. The model guarantees: e-payroll, e-training and e-records management.
Government to Governments — The report also advised Nigeria to adopt this model, G2G for electronic sharing of data and information systems between government agencies, departments or organizations. It however, noted that e-government is usually based on interoperability, information security and elimination of duplication of functions.
On the challenges of e-Government standards and models, the report identified poor funding as a major threat to the growth of e-governance in the country, insisting that funding financing is a key enabler for initiation and long-term operational success. It however, noted each new funding source brings added risk. It goes further to fault the poor data sharing among government agencies and individuals, which it said does not encourage the entrenchment of e-governance.
According to the report, implementation of sharing data through collaboration requires the creation of new relationships and inter-organizational processes, and often requires changes in participants’ internal processes. While, calling for security consciousness, it however, pointed out that security governments around the world participate in a globally interconnected ecosphere, which has become an attractive target for information theft and other security threats.
Delivery of public information
It also made case for government portal for provision of regular services, government wide integrated portals and service delivery through partnership with private sector. In addition to adopting best practices in the world, the report urged Nigeria to adopt the standards of Dubai, Sweden and France. For instance, 90 per cent of government services in Dubai have been streamlined to their centralized, online portal.
In Sweden, all government agencies have been handling invoices electronically since July 2008, while in France, there is a portal which enables the filing of personal income and corporate returns and online payment of taxes. Also in France, several public authorities are notified at once in the event of a change of address for a citizen.
The report believes that e-government initiatives would not solve all the problems in the country, but with the right standards and models, it would surely help improve efficiency and effectiveness of public service delivery, foster development of the people and leapfrog the country.