The e-governament handbook for developing countries

A Project of InfoDev and The Center for Democracy & Technology

The process of globalization may very well entail both a reduction of income disparities among countries, and increasing income inequalities within countries. If this is so, for many countries, addressing the Digital Divide issue will be as much an external as an internal battle. On both fronts, e-government will be a powerful tool to help all types of economies (developed, developing and in transition) to bring the benefits of the emerging global information society to the largest possible part of their respective populations. Direct effects of e-government include cost effectiveness in government and public operations, significant savings in areas such as public procurement, tax collection and customs operations, with better and continuous contacts with citizens, especially those living in remote or less densely populated areas. Indirect effects are no less important, and include greater transparency and accountability in public decisions, powerful ways to fight corruption, the ability to stimulate the emergence of local e-cultures, and the strengthening of democracy. These are among the reasons why e-government, after spreading through developed market economies, has now become a priority in an increasing number of developing countries. Around the world, significant resources are being mobilized, as well as additional human resources and energies, to develop, implement and promote the use of e-government. However, since such resources remain scarce in regard to the immense tasks of socioeconomic development and poverty alleviation, it is essential that they be used wisely and with a maximum chance of success. Benefiting from other countries’ experiences, understanding their successes and failures, and adapting that knowledge to the characteristics of one’s socio-economic environment will be vital to the future of e-government in many parts of the world. This is why infoDev is proud to have contributed to the production of the present Handbook. There is no e-government textbook and no e-government theory; knowledge comes from practice; excellence comes from best practices. This handbook is a first attempt to bring together key resources and examples of best practices from around the world and to provide an operational tool to help e-government practitioners move as swiftly and efficiently as possible through the three stages described here, namely: publishing, interacting, and transacting. As was once said, in e-business, e-commerce, and e-government, the most important letter may very well not be the ‘e’, but the ‘r’ … which allows participants to move from ‘contacts’ to ‘contracts’. The e-government Handbook is one of the products which best illustrates the new strategy of infoDev, based on exchange of best practices and knowledge dissemination. This handbook, its companion CD-ROM and its associated website follow in the track of the infoDev Telecom Regulatory Handbook, and the ‘regulateonline’ website; it constitutes a vital tool for those countries, governments and societies who choose to adopt e-government as a pillar of their e-strategies. We congratulate the Center for Democracy and Technology for having been able to carry out the assignment of putting this product together, and have no doubt that the e-government Handbook is going to become a worldwide reference in the years to come.

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