Wednesday, March 5, 2014

E-Government in Afghanistan

E-Government development needs a strong vision and leadership support at the political and policy levels of government. Such kind of vision and leadership was missing in Afghanistan till very recently. Only in 2011, Ministry of communication & Information Technology (MCIT) has developed an E-Government Strategy  which outlines key priorities of e-government for a five year period.. Afghan president has recently told that the paper-based system shall be replaced by E-government services. E-government has been included in the Presidential Election debate. Three leading presidential candidates  have included e-government as part of their priorities to foster effective and timely public services t and reduced corruption using ICT.
I do believe that, given the current situation in Afghanistan, substitution of paper system with E-Services cannot be a feasible option. For several years we need to have both paper based and E-services in parallel, as one complement the other.
Based on the vision, the government has planned a number of e-government initiatives as described below:
National Data Repository Center: Ministry of Communication & Information Technology has created a data repository center for storage of data related to e-government programs.

E-Tazkira: Afghan Government has developed an Electronic National ID Card System, which is a chip-based smart card. E-ID will serve as identification system and as a platform through which citizen can have access to E-services. E-Tazkira distribution will start soon after April Election. E-Tazkira is believed to be an effective tool for citizen information management, transparent election, and population related statistics. 
Mobile Government: M-Government experiment has already started with fewer government services provided using mobile phones. Electricity bill and payment of police and national army personnel salaries are being done through mobile. ROSHAN, as telecommunication provider has activated M-Pisa that enables money transfer through mobile in remote parts of the country. M-Paisa enables services for G2G  (salaries of security forces) and C2G (payment of electricity bills). M-Paisa also serves for citizen 2 citizen remittances across the country.
Design of Websites and E-Service Applications for Ministries: Though it is planed, but government has not taken serious actions to design E-services Applications. So far a G2G financial management application has been developed for ministry of finance and that is on its experimentation stage. In addition, Police and army payroll is managed online by transferring their salaries to bank accounts. 
 E-government in Afghanistan is on childhood state of its development. significant efforts to be made to overcome numerous challenges ahead of this intervention. Government restructuring, passing laws and regulations, development of IT Capacity in Government agency, digital literacy, and public IT access are among the most important issues need strong attention by government.


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