iHub Research and CIPESA attended the 2012 Africa-EU Cooperation Week on ICT from Nov. 26-30, 2012 in Lisbon, Portugal to participate in the e-Government & e-Democracy session. Vasilis Koulolias of Gov2U and Angela Crandall of iHub Research moderated the e-Gov/e-Dem discussion session. Ashnah Kalemera of CIPESA represented the ICT4Democracy Network. The 90-minute session was attended by a range of stakeholders including the African Development Bank, academics from Europe, technology consultants from Africa and Europe, and government representatives.
The e-Gov/e-Dem session opened by asking panelists their opinion on the conditions that need to be in place for e-governance to work. Participants gave examples from their own work and emphasized that one needs to be sure to understand the problem and the role of ICT before beginning to implement an e-Governance initiative. Some of the additional key conditions that the panelists also raised included: trust in the technology; political will; organizational setting; cultural, social and technological maturity. Panelists also agreed that in many cases, a change of mindset is needed both from governments as well as citizens and other stakeholders.
Some of the blockers to e-government initiatives that were raised by the panel were the hierarchical nature of governments as well as lack of mechanisms for accountability. At the end of the session, it was agreed that there is no magic recipe for the implementation of e-Governance, but a conceptual model is needed of how e-Governance/e-Democracy can work that can then be localized for the specific governance issue one is trying to solve. Transformational change is still very much needed in individual and institutional mindsets, and the way forward is both challenging and exciting.
For the PowerPoint used to set the scene for the e-Governance/e-Democracy session, see: http://euroafrica-ict.org/wp-content/plugins/alcyonis-event-agenda//files/e-Gov_&_e-Democracy_Setting_the_scene.pdf.
For an overall summary of the conference see: http://euroafrica-ict.org/files/2012/12/EuroAfrica-ICT_P8_Forum_Event_report.pdf