E-governance can help boost democracy in developing countries | A. Degryse-Blateau
19 Jul 2012
Two rights stand out in all open democratic societies: freedom of expression and access to information. E-governance—as in electronic, or technology-driven, governance—is about both of these.
Efficient e-governance is an innovative and transparent way to deliver government services and exchange information with citizens in a convenient and transparent way, saving time and money.
The mass digital migration from personal computers to mobile phone applications also brings new opportunities to boost e-governance.
Over five billion people—around 77 percent of the global population—own or have access to mobile phones worldwide. In regions with no electricity, computers or internet access, mobile phones are increasingly helping spread mobile government, banking or health.
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) supports 222 e-governance and access to information projects in 92 countries. More than 20 percent focus on the use of Information and Communications Technology to enhance citizens’ access to public information and 18 percent to deliver services more effectively.
And there is a world of knowledge to be shared. In Korea, which won the UN’s global e-governance 2010 and 2011 awards, citizens can petition government, complain about government services, pay their taxes and apply for patents online. Businesses can get goods through customs quickly at a lower cost and find all information they need on a single online space.
Many developing countries are making solid progress, but challenges remain. Governments must be more strategic in mobilizing limited resources to effectively respond to citizens' needs, keep them informed and build sustainable bridges between public institutions and citizens. Also, building a robust infrastructure for e-participation is expensive.
Developed and developing countries want to learn more from each other’s experiences on policies, plans and investments in infrastructure, technology and human capital. With this in mind it is excellent to see that countries and multilateral organizations are upping efforts to share e-governance experience.