‘e-Govt can improve Zim service delivery’
HARARE – ICT is a powerful tool for improving the quality and efficiency of government services such as education and health. A senior Zimbabwe Government official said when opening a workshop to develop an e-Government framework and implementation plan for the Government of Zimbabwe recently in Harare. Chief Secretary to The President and Cabinet, Dr. Misheck Sibanda said, holistically and ultimately, e-Government aims at enhancing access to and delivery of government and other services to benefit the citizens. “e-Government helps to strengthen the government’s drive towards effective governance, increased transparency and accountability so as to better manage a country’s political, social, technological, economic policies and resources for rapid and accelerated development.” said Sibanda. The Chief Secretary urged government to make bold moves to ensure that citizens are enlightened in ICTs at every level of development. He further added that the implementation of e-Government requires strong visionary leadership. “It also requires a comprehensive strategy that is not only benchmarked on global best practices, but also sensitive to existing political and economic realities” Sibanda added. According to Sibanda the Government of Zimbabwe is prepared to vigorously pursue the implementation of e-Government in e-Administration, e-Services and e-Society. “In all these initiatives, the Government will be endeavoring to endanger the spirit and a culture of taming bureaucracy, cost effectiveness, strengthening governance, transparency, accountability, enhanced and uninhibited supply of anonymous information on corruption related issues by the public and improved interface between citizens and politicians”, said Sibanda. Furthermore, Sibanda noted that e-Government is a means to accomplish broader social goals. Goals that move beyond mere efficiency of government processes to that of overall reform and development. “However the implementation of a national e-Government program has its challenges, with the issue of Cyber Security being one of the most prominent,” The Chief Secretary noted. “In bridging the great digital divide, attention should be given to individuals, households, businesses and geographic areas at different socio-economic development levels with regard to their opportunities to access ICTs.” Said Sibanda. Contributing at the same workshop Dato’ Dr. Raja Malik Mohamed from Malaysia, advised the Government of Zimbabwe to fully embrace e-Government for the benefit of its citizens. “For e-Government top work, commitment from the top is needed. People and technology must be both involved in tandem, as to share with the rest of the world.” said Mohamed, the Managing Director of Global IT Services. Mohamed told the gathering that e-Government, reduces queuing, improves services, operations and it’s a tool for wealth creation. “In Malaysia e-government started in 1997 mainly focusing on human resources, project management, e-procurement, general office environment and e-services. Malaysia started with five flagship operations but today on can access My Government with 3 075 downloadable forms online, 913 online services and 110 000 downloadable forms. In addition there are 1 000 websites /portals with 20,5 million hits per month and 48 000 people are using online services per month.” Said Mohamed. He warned the Government of Zimbabwe not to think of everything but to focus on few deliverables as to achieve optimum results. “The Government of Zimbabwe should focus on things that citizens are not happy with like energy, health and education. He further noted that for e-Government to be appreciated by the citizens, the government must first raise awareness among its citizenry. “Citizens must see the benefits of any programme first before participating change must be promoted on daily basis.” Said Mohamed. Speaking at the same workshop, the Chief Executive Officer of Twenty Third Century Systems Mr. Ellman Chanakira said Zimbabwe has the potential to become the hub and highway of ICT excellence if the government put its priorities right. “Zimbabwe is blessed with a solid base of high literacy rate, waiting to be triggered into action. Let’s identify young people who have appetite for success in the ICT field and further train them. Our key performance indicators must be economic and financial growth, provision for housing and health, citizen satisfaction and new tax collection channels.” Said Chanakira. Participants at the workshop agreed to focus on quick wins rather than to spread e-Government on all fields. The workshop attracted participants from key line ministries and the private sector.