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E-Governance: Its Prospectives, Opportunities and Threats in Nepal

Essay by   •  February 25, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  8,484 Words (34 Pages)  •  2,968 Views

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Abstract

The world is rapidly transforming into information driven society, in which information and communication technologies (ICTs) are playing important and indispensable roles. The arrival of new ICTs has significantly enhanced our capabilities to collect, process, and distribute information. Keeping up with the 21st century, governments around the world are putting critical information online and interacting electronically with their citizens.

The ICT journey of Nepal started with the use of computer to process census data in 1971. The continuous growth in the sector can primarily be attributed to the private sector’s effort. Recent advances in ICT are providing unprecedented opportunities to the countries like Nepal in developing education, health, agriculture, tourism, trade and various other sectors. This has empowered the nation with the potential to overcome its geographical and economic challenges.

Awareness of ICT especially in urban areas has been growing rapidly. In addition, a sizeable human resource of different standards and base are being produced. Though, the deployment of ICT in Nepal remains uneven and is limited to selected urban areas. Connectivity costs are considerably high for the majority of the population and other requisite infrastructures are not in place.

However in recent years, with the formation of High Level Commission for Information Technology (HLCIT), the government has tried to play the role of facilitator. ICT policy 2000 with the vision “to place Nepal on the global map of Information Technology within the next five years” showed that the government has quite well visualized the resultant benefits and the proposed amendment; Electronic Transaction Act (ETA), establishment of IT parks etc. are some encouraging developments. Moreover the apex body has, rightly, taken the initiative to empower government through the use of ICT.

1. Introduction

Nepal is a geographically challenged country with about 26.4 million people scattered throughout remote mountainous areas, presenting formidable barriers to sustainable growth and development. The rural population is predominant, at 80% of the total population. Although nonagricultural activities are gradually contributing more to gross domestic product (GDP), agriculture is still Nepal’s main economic activity, employing more than 75% of the population and providing 38% of GDP. Weak public sector performance and the politics of exclusion have led to a breakdown between government and much of the population in Nepal. The transition toward a new form of government is showing some progress, albeit slow, in improving rapport with the people and genuine participation. However, public services are still weak, supplier-centered, and inaccessible. Modernization through e-development is imperative in a country like Nepal where the transition towards a new form of government is showing slow progress. ICT can bring services inexpensively and effectively to rural communities that are inadequately served or not at all, and connect them to the rest of the economy and society. This is one of the few affordable options for delivering meaningful outcomes for much of the population in Nepal within a foreseeable time frame.

1.1 e-Government

A government is a body that has the authority to make and the power to enforce laws within a civil, corporate, religious, academic, or other organization or group. The word government is derived from the Greek word 'kybernan', which means, "to steer".

With rapid development and expansion of ICT, administrative services by the government is also changing from its traditional, passive service led by the government to active and consolidated service led by the people. In line with such trend in ICT, governments around the world are aiming to establish the e-government that can improve productivity in administrative services, realize a networked government, satisfy its people's demand in administrative services, and enhance the national competitiveness through proactive services.

Definition

e-Government means different things to different people. There are as many definitions of e-government as there are individuals, organizations and forums defining it. Individuals at different levels of organizational hierarchy also have different perceptions of e-government. A moderately educated office messenger is entitled to perceive e-government merely as 'computer'. Likewise, up the hierarchy, an office clerk is entitled to perceive e-government as 'government services online'. Similarly, further up the hierarchy, middle level civil servants can perceive e-government as 'improved government services online'. Finally, at the top level, senior civil servants can perceive e-government as 'reformed government services online tuned to the needs of e-citizens' (Mishra, 2006). A citizen-centric criteria-based definition of e-government is required to help e-government policy makers and implementers in introducing and following up introduction of e-government for improved public service delivery. Some of the definitions of e-government from a number of global sources are:

The World Bank

e-Government refers to the use of information technologies by government agencies that have the ability to transform relations with citizens, businesses, and other arms of government. These technologies can serve a variety of different ends: better delivery of government services to citizens, improved interactions with businesses and industries, citizen empowerment through access of information, or more efficient government management. The resulting benefits can be less corruption, increased transparency, greater convenience, revenue growth, and/ or cost reductions.

The United Nations

e-Government is defined as utilizing the Internet and the World Wide Web for delivering government information and services to citizens.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

e-Government: is more about government than about 'e'; improves efficiency; improves services; helps achieve specific outcomes; can contribute to broad policy objectives; can be a major contributor to reform; can help build trust between government's and citizen's; can open up the policy process; challenges existing ways of working; seamless government services will drive agencies closer

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