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E-Governance to remain under OPM

Tue, 7 April 2015 11:23
by Charmaine Ngatjiheue

The E-governance Strategic Plan will remain under the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) according to the Director to Solutions for Architecture under OPM, Fanie van Staden, despite efforts by former Minister of Information and Communication Technology (MICT), Joel Kaapanda’s to transfer it to his ministry.
The World Bank sees E-Governance as the use by government agencies of Information Communication Technologies that has the ability to transform relations with citizens, visitors and businesses, as well as between all the arms of government.
The E-Government Strategic Plan strives to promote a more efficient and effective government and to make it more accessible and accountable to citizens through the use of information and communication technologies. It is meant to help enhance the country’s ability to improve service delivery and, in so doing, bring the government closer to the public.
Van Staden said within the African Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the E-governance initiative should be run by the head of the Republic of the Civil Service, reaffirming that anything to do with implementing such initiatives would be the OPM.
“The new government structure, the Secretary to Cabinet, George Simataa would be heading this initiative. The E-governance Strategic Plan is at the right place and under the right authority to implement it,” said van Staden.
Van Staden further explained that the initiative is intended for the public service and not government as a whole, adding that it will allow the OPM to use Information Technology (IT) to improve service delivery.
“It falls under the OPM and we have been seeing good results, especially when you look at the Ministry of Home Affairs. You cannot split things as it will become problematic to implement it.”
The role of the MICT is to focus on National concerns, put in place laws for Information Technology, and have a legal landscape for the whole of Namibia, according to van Staden.
“The OPM needs to execute certain public services. MICT looks at areas of democracy. It should focus on overall national issues and not on ministerial issues.  This initiative will monitor the services of the public service including that of the MICT,” said van Staden.
Meanwhile, the new Minister of MICT, Tjekero Tweya said he is aware that the implementation of the E-Governance Strategic Plan is under the OPM but he is unable to comment on whether it should come under his line Ministry, as he is yet to settle into his new portfolio.
“Let me first meet with my management team at the Ministry to acquaint myself with the current information of the Ministry. I know E-governance is under the OPM and the former Minister informed me of the situation but I cannot say anything yet until next week.  Allow me to settle in, meet with my management team and then I can comment on anything related to the Ministry,” said Tweya.
The E-Governance Strategic Plan that was launched last year in September under the OPM was met by contention by Kaapanda; saying in an interview with The Villager that the confusion over which ministry is responsible for the full implementation of the E-Governance Strategic Plan has slowed down the implementation of the initiative at various ministries.
Kaapanda said the MICT was never given a clear mandate on what its role is in the implementation of the initiative, adding that the OPM was given the responsibility to execute the plan and the MICT was made part of it.
Kaapanda said, at the time, that the challenge lay in the fact that OPM did not make a submission to cabinet to give an explanation on how the policy is to be implemented and how the MICT is supposed to fit in.
In a more recent interview with The Villager before leaving office, Kaapanda said that one of the challenges facing the MICT is the implementation of the E-governance structure for public services to be online.
 “I hope the new Minister would ask for the E-Governance Strategic Plan to be brought under the MICT,” Kaapanda was quoted as saying.
The benefits of E-Governance are vast. Citizens, businesses and visitors alike will be able to access government information and online services with ease through multiple channels in the comfort of their homes.
Through E-Governance, collaboration and data sharing among government institutions will ensure consistency of information to avoid duplication of efforts and documentation.
The E-Government Strategic Action Plan is meant to outline the high-level vision of the government, which is to be the leading networked government providing client-centric, transparent, affordable, and efficient services to all.
The plan puts emphasis on five areas of importance; which were the impact, and visibility that will see the government work towards the redesign of extensive business processes and by 2018, including the computerisation of services from identified offices, ministries and agencies.
Collaborations and networking was also outlined as an important component that aims to create a network of government institutions that share government resources such as data, infrastructure, and solutions through a collaborative approach by 2018.
Emphasise was also put on consistency and standardisation, that aims at a standard and consistent approach, interfaces and interactions for developing and implementing solutions and rendering services by 2016.
E-Governance in terms of training, education, and research, aims at having experienced employees for rendering e-services as well as willing clients for participation and accessing service through the E-Government approach.
By this year (2015), E-Governance is aimed to have foundational support as it is the area through which government aims to develop relevant laws and policies as well as the establishment of technical committees to drive the E-Government reform.