By Yinebeb Bahru
While the digital revolution has been in momentum for decades, it has received a massive boost from the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the pandemic hit, it prompted various organizations to offer their services digitally in a bid to minimize face-to-face interactions. The same has been for governments worldwide who have rushed to digitalize civil services that relied on in-person visits.
Governments have long recognized the importance and benefits of e-government platforms and are seeking appropriate solutions to improve their services to citizens.
ICT applications are playing a vital role not only in improving state operations but also in redefining traditional concepts of citizenship and democracy, delivering services to citizens in innovative ways.
The extensive disparity in the impact of ICT on the lives of citizens around the world reflects the uneven growth of economic development while also highlighting the critical role of government in the information age.
In democratic systems, digital government services play an important role and are utilized to dispatch public resources to meet the needs of citizens for the common good. To achieve this, most countries have invested a large amount of money in developing and running e-government applications and infrastructures.
E-governance has many benefits for both the state and its citizens. It creates an all-inclusive government, reduces administrative costs, and ensures that the government’s system has high work efficiency, transparency, and accountability, making citizens have better trust in their leaders.
Ethiopia’s venture toward e-governance is at a very infant stage. Of course, some government institutions offer electronic services. However, they have many limitations and software issues and are usually out of date.
As a result, citizens are usually disappointed and unsatisfied with the services provided by the state, including in those areas where there are some form of digitalization attempts.
Such factors also sometimes push citizens to commit nefarious acts like corruption to get the services they need. To overcome this, the Ethiopian government needs to implement several policies and legal reforms on the digital transformation of government services as part of the anti-corruption fight.
Electronic government applications play an important role in reducing corruption. They are immensely useful in collecting revenues and taxes, aspects of state service that have been victims of corruption and abuse.
E-governance allows the government and citizens to engage in more deliberate practices. The fear of being caught while doing something illegal and the consequences they would face can deter corrupt practices.
E-government apps will also be able to create vertical and horizontal integration of government systems across platforms, ensuring real-time verification while also creating traceability of the decisions made.
Additionally, e-government platforms can have an indirect positive impact on participatory democracy, as such tools can effectively be used to inform the public about what the government is doing and the policies being enforced.
With the platform’s ultimate goal being to provide high-quality public services efficiently and cost-effectively to citizens, e-governance is more than just developing a website for a government bureau.
Digital transformation has the power to connect all parties and renovate civil services. Digitalization can be used to support and simplify the very nature of governance for all parties involved: the state, citizens, and businesses. E-governance is a matter of necessity and survival to answer citizens’ needs and wants.
Yinebeb Bahru is a digital channel officer at Awash Bank and is passionate about technology, startups, innovation, and content. In the upcoming weeks, Yinebeb will try to identify the major challenges of e-government and digital transformation in Ethiopia.