E-governance and its contribution to fostering good governance : a case study of e-governance in five African countries.
This research sets out to ascertain the application of e-governance in five selected African countries, (namely South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Ethiopia) and whether it has the potential to contribute to good governance. In the 21st century, globalisation has changed the way countries relate politically, socially, and economically in the global arena. This has been driven by many factors, but the most notable being technological advancements. According to the 2003 World Public Sector Report, the advancement in Information Communications Technologies (ICTs) has presented new opportunities to integrate networking to improve the efficiency of how business is carried out and how services are provided. The use of ICTs such as computers, electronic databases and other technologies have been in use for a number of years within the public sector to organise, manage and disseminate information to the public as well as to facilitate day-to-day communication in government offices. In this context, the value of the use of ICTs has been to assist and streamline government operations. Alongside the growing application of ICTs in government operations, good governance is more and more regarded as the ideal manner in which to govern and provide public services. Grindle (1) points out that good governance is about the state's capacity to be able to design and implement appropriate public policies that in a way ensures equitable administering of resources with values such as accountability, transparency, efficiency, effectiveness, representativeness, public participation and responsiveness. This study makes a comparison between the developing countries of South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Ethiopia in order to determine the extent to which they are adopting e-governance practices as well as ascertaining whether these contribute to the good governance mandate. Findings from the study reveal that although e-governance has been promoted as an initiative to improve public service delivery, it is not an end but rather a possible means to an end to improve service delivery. This is attributed to the fact that there are still some hindrances to the implementation and application of e-governance in the five countries discussed. Such include the widespread prevalence of digital divides. Despite this, the overall implication for the use of ICTs in governance can be of some benefit in enhancing the requirements of good governance. With the rapid advancement of ICTs and continuous nascent nature of e-governance, the progress the countries discussed have made shows that the implementation and application of e-governance is and will be a continuous process. As a result, the state of e-governance may therefore improve. (1) Grindle, M.S. 1997. Getting Good Government: Capacity Building in the Public Sectors of Developing Countries. Harvard University Press: Harvard Institute for International Development. p.5.