By Timi Olubiyi, Ph.D.
World Bank explained that electronic governance simply known as e-governance is the use of information technologies by the government to transform relations and communication with citizens, businesses, and other arms of government agencies (local, state and federal ministries). The primary focus of e-governance is to ensure that the citizens have stress-free access to services and information.
Without doubts, Nigeria has the fastest growing information and communication technology market in Africa particularly financial technology (FinTech), despite this, the country is still ranked low in the provision of e-governance services to its citizens. The penetration of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) has changed the way humans interact within society and is even central public sector operations and administration in many countries. Therefore, it is only imperative for Nigeria to adopt digital innovation and fall in line and also get involved adequately, concerning activities relevant to the government to government, companies, organizations, and citizens through e-governance.
Many countries and government agencies around the world are turning to electronic methods to deliver services and communicate with citizens, Nigeria should not be an exception. With a high population and a forecast of 400 million by the year 2050 according to reliable data from Worldometer, it is apparent that digital application in national planning is key and inevitable for the country. More so infrastructures are likely to be overstretched without a reliable data-driven decision-making system, and adequate scientific projections. Consequently, e-governance and the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in government operations is necessary, to achieve an increase in the outreach of government services to the populace. No doubt, e-governance is drawing significant attention especially in government administration, businesses, and other service organizations. More so governments worldwide continue to adopt ICT just as the expansion of e-business and e-commerce technologies in the private sector are growing as the new normal, thanks to the novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID19) and the rapid rise in the usage of the internet and digitization.
It is important to stress that no meaningful government can improve the lives and livelihood of its citizenries without a reliable citizens’ data and a national database portal. For instance, the government cannot adequately provide social infrastructures without adequately knowing how many people in the country, or provide school infrastructure without children’s data need or know the numbers of cars/users or number of unemployed youths or even the unbanked and illiteracy levels in the country.
Significantly, lots of benefits may mount up from e-governance initiatives which include cost savings, improved communications and coordination, expanded citizen participation and increased government accountability, better accessibility of public services, more transparency, and greater convenience. The transition from regular governance to e-governance has been considered as a veritable instrument in increasing the democratization process, paperless offices etc. The scope of e-governance can revolve around e-registrations, e-taxation, e-mobilization, e-education, e-service delivery, e-feedback, e-policing, e-voting, e-courts, e-licensing, and the analysis of public financial statements to mention a few. While I agree that Treasury Single Account (TSA) is a good e-governance initiative, on a large-scale government can still do more and achieve more significantly. E-government activities can also offer around the clock information access from remote locations, reduced bureaucracy, and improve information sharing between agencies.
In business, e-governance can equally bring profit and sustainability to businesses particularly SMEs because e-governance can reduce the burden of starting a new business and also improve the ease of doing business. This is expected to have a direct positive impact on the profitability of the firms in the country and attraction of reasonable foreign direct investments (FDIs).
In summary, the introduction of an e-governance system will provide a means of reducing costs, increasing effectiveness and efficiency in the public sector. Thus, e-governance if implemented will decrease the perennial stifle administrative and regulatory burdens on citizens and businesses. It will also promote good governance and improve public services, which will encourage more public-private partnerships, and promote open government ecosystem. Invariably, with adequate implementation and transparency, citizen attitudes towards government will change because an increased sense of trust and public value will be achieved. Although e-government engulfs huge funds in its initial stage with appropriate investments in hardware, software, and expertise, however, it gives birth to huge benefits as compared to those from bureaucratic one in the long run. Good luck!
Dr. Olubiyi, an entrepreneurship and small business management expert, is a chartered member of the Chartered Institute of Securities & Investment (CISI). He twits @drtimiolubiyi and can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org