The e-Government Project – a reform initiative

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The Namibian government initiated the e-Government project a few years into independence to enhance the efficient public service delivery through the usage of information and communication technology (ICT). It was in 2005 that Cabinet approved the e-Governance Policy for the Namibian Public Service, after the review and development of legal and institutional frameworks relevant to e-Government.

The actual work of the project started during 2010 with the e-Readiness assessment where five categories were identified as the primary target for information collecting. These were policy and legal, access, local content, capacity and competences, and willingness. A survey was conducted among government institutions and ICT businesses. In addition, consultations were done with stakeholders, comprised of representatives of institutions such as the University of Namibia, the Polytechnic of Namibia, NCCI, ICT Alliance, Telecom, and MTC. The analysis resulted in an average score of 2.2 out of the total of 4 points for Namibia’s readiness.

Furthermore, the result of the e-Readiness assessment was used to develop the e-Government Strategic Action Plan. This plan outlines strategic objectives, programmes, projects and institutions responsible for the implementation. The table below provides a snapshot of the plan.

The implementation phase started with the restructuring of the Department of Public Service Information Technology Management under the Office of the Prime Minister to enable it to carry out additional roles and responsibilities required for the implementation of the e-Government project. The Head of the Department is a Deputy Permanent Secretary and it consists of three directorates. The Directorate of Quality Assurance, Standards, Skills Development and for Coordination is responsible for establishing and enforcing standards and best practices across the government institutions for consistency and alignment of efforts in the e-Government project implementation as well as for the promotion of e-Government within Namibia and collaborative efforts for inter-governmental exchange programs. The Directorate of Technical Support and Network Services is responsible for the ICT Infrastructure of the Government of Namibia for matters of e-Government. The main activities of the directorate are to implement and maintain the Unified Data Centre, the Disaster Recovery Centre and the government-wide ICT networking facility. The Directorate of Solutions Architecture is responsible for the designing, developing, implementing, supporting and maintaining of software solutions for the Government of Namibia.

The main activities of the directorate are to provide recommendations on software solution acquisitions, develop and implement software solutions, provide support and maintenance for the software applications, define an Interoperability Framework, develop and implement the Government Portal and implement a Centralised Help Desk solution, all within the government environment.

Among the first projects to be implemented are the developments of the interoperability solution for the Government of Namibia, the review of the e-Governance Policy and IT Policy for the Public Service of Namibia, the development and adoption of security guidelines including the necessary standards and the development of the monitoring and evaluation framework and toolkit.

The interoperability solution project consists of the software interface that will allow data exchange among databases belonging to government agencies under a secure environment, the review and drafting of required regulations and the competence enhancement for the staff members who will be responsible for the implementation and support.

The solution would foster the creation of online services capable of simultaneously using data held in different databases that will be accessed via the governmental portal. The solution will be implemented in a secure environment with encryption, time stamping, audit trails and proper authentication of participating entities. The project is implemented with the assistance of the Estonian e-Governance Academy with whom the Office of the Prime Minister has a signed Memorandum of Understanding.

Participants in the pilot phase of the project are the Office of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development, Roads Authority, and the Government Institutions Pension Fund. The participants were chosen according to the data registries they are responsible for managing.

The 24-month project has been running since November 2014, to end in November 2016, with the full-scale implementation to be achieved by April 2016.

The implementation of the ICT Security Guidelines is essential and will help the e-Government project to ensure that confidentiality, integrity and availability are always maintained and improved continuously to the level comparable to international standards. In addition, it will help to improve the users’ trust level and create good public perception towards those systems that will be implemented. Stakeholders and relevant parties will be consulted to discuss the draft guidelines to solicit changes, comments and feedback.

The main aim of the e-Government project is to improve the delivery of public services to citizens, businesses and clients by taking advantage of the information and communication technologies, hence the computerisation of processes will be carried out to enable access to services through the Internet.

• Ndeshipanda C. Ndilula is the Director of Quality Assurance and Standards in the Office of the Prime Minister.

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