The Government of South Africa has embarked on a number of measures to ensure that information and communication technologies (ICTs) play a vital role in society. On the 9th February 2001, President Thabo Mbeki outlined, in his address to Parliament, the principal programme areas for the year 2001. The President reflected on a wide range of socio-economic and political issues that need to be addressed in order to accelerate and consolidate national growth, development and democracy. The President indicated that the government has started the process of introducing managed liberalization of the telecommunications industry. The policy process will ensure greater regulatory certainty in the telecommunications industry by creating an enabling environment for local and foreign direct investments. It is envisaged that this process will improve the competitiveness and efficiency of the sector, thereby enabling it to contribute to national growth, employment and redistribution of national wealth.
The President announced the establishment of the Presidential International Task Force on Information Society and Development to assist government in narrowing the digital divide with the rest of the world. This is to be followed by the appointment of members of the Presidential National Commission on Information Society and Development, which will deal with skills development issues in the ICT sector.
The role of broadcasting has also been accorded a high priority with the appointment of the CEO and other senior managers at the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation. Consistent with government's commitment to promoting access to information as enshrined in the Constitution, the roll-out of community radio stations is to continue with a specific focus on under-served areas. The development and funding of community programming is to be carried out in collaboration with civil society and international development organizations. Other steps were announced as part of government's integrated rural development strategy including the restructuring of the Postbank to enhance its developmental role and an accelerated roll-out of Public Information Terminals (PIT) to provide easy and cost effective access to government information.
Priority has also been given to E-commerce policy with discussions taking place between government and stake holders as well as amongst stakeholders. Government has fast-tracked the legislative process and plans to have E-commerce legislation by the end of 2001. The legislation is aimed at providing the required certainty in the industry with regard to, amongst others, security, intellectual property nights, domain names and privacy of e-commerce transactions.
As part of the government's broader commitment to the African Renaissance and growth in the SADC region, South Africa will be hosting ITU Africa Telecoms in November 2001. The event, with a specific focus on the continent, will be attended by local and international private sector players and government institutions involved in the ICT industry.
Four government departments are intimately involved with IT and Communications Technologies: the Department of Communications (DoC) deals with the provision of infrastructure, access and connectivity. The Department of Public Service (DPSA), deals with provision of services efficiently, equitably and accessibly. The Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology (DACST) is concerned with language issues, making the Internet truly universal through access in the language of the populations concerned, and issues of research and development in the ICT sector. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) deals with matters of commerce, international trade and the IT industry.
The DoC has launched a series of initiatives under the collective label of the "Info.Com 2025" programme, which seeks to achieve broad-based growth and equitable development through communications and information technologies. Some of the key elements of the Info.Com programme include:
A Commission for Information Communications Technology (CICT);
The Universal Service Agency (USA) telecentre projects;
Public Information Terminals (PITs), Internet-2000, and web Internet Lab. Projects designed for rapid expansion of access to the Internet and for experimentation with Internet applications;
TradeNet: liaison with the Department of Trade and Industry to promote international trade opportunities via e-commerce; and
Houwteq: a national training institute for study, research, and development in Technology and software.
These and other initiatives reflect the way in which government is responding to the challenge of using enabling technologies and new business paradigms to improve its service delivery and Plans for E-Commerce legislation are well advanced, as shown in the following timetable of events:
Discussion paper launched in July 1999
Stakeholder working group submissions collated November 1999
Green Paper: issued November 2000
E-Law Conference: Stakeholders invited to discuss proposed framework/outline of the Bill and make recommendations
E-Bill (2nd quarter 2001) dealing with legislative issues
E-Legislation: to be passed (3rd quarter 2001) and promulgated before the end of the year
Policy Directions (Beyond e-legislation) including policy positions, regulations and guidelines and self-regulatory measures - contracts, industry norms and practices, codes
An important development was the creation of The State Information Technology Agency, SITA, in April, 1999. Its mandate is to serve as the information systems facility of the State, chiefly responsible for the management and execution of IT-related work for, and on behalf of the Government of South Africa.
The guiding philosophy of the provision of government services is to bring IT Value through cost effectiveness, increased productivity and citizen convenience. The technical pillars of this philosophy rest on minimum information security, interoperability, economies of scale and no duplication. The transition to a Citizen Focused Service Delivery model is expected to offer
A common service provider model for procurement of IT goods and services
The removal of duplication through inventory of government systems (central database)
Integrity of providers with an objective for black economic empowerment
Partnerships around skills transfer, training and local employment
The first phase in the transition is to strengthen the internal workings of government through the roll-out of a public service technical network, the provision of applications, systems and information and the engagement of local manufacturers and skills.
The second phase of the transition is to create Universal Access involving the expansion of network access devices.
To this end, a number of e-Government initiatives are already underway, including:
Integrated justice system
Automated Fingerprint Identification system
Government wide call centre
G2G - government wide intranet
G2C - single electronic window to government services
An e-commerce policy and legislative framework needs to consider a complex set of issues touching all major aspects of economic life including technology, micro and macro economics, social and political angles and global and national concerns.
A national policy is perceived as important because the growth of e-commerce, as a vehicle into the new Information society/economy, requires transparent, predictable and flexible regulation and legislation in certain areas. The measures must address fundamental legal barriers, security and privacy concerns, lack of understanding and preparedness by those who stand to benefit, the need to ensure harmony and compatibility with the international trading regime, and universal access and service.
Both government and the private sector have a role in addressing challenges, threats, risks and legal barriers presented by e-commerce. The government sees its role as a facilitator fundamentally responsible for laying out a legal and regulatory foundation for e-commerce: a policy instrument to address uncertainties such as validity, legal effect and enforceability of transactions conducted through electronic means. The private sector remains a critical driving force in implementing e-commerce applications, providing technological solutions and using some self-regulatory mechanisms to address challenges.
15. United Republic of Tanzania
Tanzania is situated in East Africa and has a total population of around 33 million. Tanzania is bordered on the south by Mozambique, Malawi, and Zambia; on the west by Zaire, Burundi, and Rwanda; on the north by Uganda and Kenya; and on the east by the Indian Ocean. Tanzania is the largest of the East African nations, and it possesses a geography as mythic as it is spectacular. The country has a surface area of 945 thousand square kilometres and a climate which varies quite a bit, considering that its environment includes both the highest and the lowest points on the continent. While the narrow lowland coastal region is consistently hot and humid, the central regions of Tanzania are sufficiently elevated so as to offer much cooler temperatures. The rainy seasons extend from November to early January and from March to May.
The history of human habitation in Tanzania goes back almost two million years, and the fossils found at Olduvai Gorge by Louis and Mary Leakey now stand among the most important artefacts of the origins of our species. Artefacts of later Paleolithic cultures have also been found in Tanzania. There is evidence that communities along the Tanzanian coast were engaging in overseas trade by the beginning of the first millennium AD. By 900 AD those communities had attracted immigrants from India as well as from southwest Asia, and direct trade extended as far as China. When the Portuguese arrived at the end of the 15th century, they found a major trade centre at Kilwa Kisiwani, which they promptly subjugated and then sacked. The Portuguese were expelled from the region in 1698, after Kilwa enlisted the help of Omani Arabs. The Omani dynasty of the Bu Said replaced the region's Yarubi leaders in 1741, and they proceeded to further develop trade. It was during this time that Zanzibar gained its legendary status as a centre for the ivory and slave trade, becoming in 1841 the capital city of the sultan of Oman.
In Tanzania's interior, at about the same time, the cattle-grazing Maasai migrated south from Kenya into central Tanzania. Soon afterward the great age of European exploration of the African continent began, and with it came colonial domination. Tanzania fell under German control in 1886, but was handed over to Britain after WWI. Present day Tanzania is the result of a merger between the mainland (previously Tanganyika) and Zanzibar in 1964, after both had gained independence. Tanzania has like many African nations experienced considerable strife since independence, and its economy is extremely weak. However, political stability does appear to have been established in recent years.
Today Tanzania has a GDP of around 8.5 billion US dollars with an annual growth of 5%. Figures show very low Internet and computer penetration with 2 personal computers for every 1000 people and 5 telephone mainlines for every 1000 population. Internet hosts in 1999 stood at 0 for every 10000 population.
It is an accepted fact that information poverty has been a characteristic of most countries in the African continent and this is not because the planning mechanisms of these countries lack data on which to base various meaningful socio-economic planning exercises but rather the problem has been the inability of African countries to develop and maintain appropriate information infrastructures.
In his speech to the opening of the workshop on elaboration of information and communication policy for the United Republic of Tanzania, in 1997, the Principal Secretary and Secretary to the Planning Commission said that Tanzania had achieved a measure of information generation and processing capacity. Quoting from his speech "Presently there are information systems which have been developed at micro level in various institutions to meet their information requirements. However these systems are being developed in an uncoordinated approach and utilized in isolation irrespective of their potentiality for meeting cross-sectoral information needs" The Principal Secretary noted that Tanzania is committed to the strengthening of the Information and Communications sector and welcomed any support from international communities in the strengthening of this sector. He stated that the information challenges facing Tanzania were immense and Tanzania needed to pursue its efforts to participate in the Global Economy, and the strengthening of the information and communications infrastructure was a prerequisite.
In an earlier survey of On-line Governance by COMNET-IT in association with UNESCO, to which the Tanzania Commission for Science & Technology responded under initiatives for the use of informatics and telematics in government and public service, two examples were given: the Parliament World Wide Web and the Bank of Tanzania World Wide Web.
In addition to the above there are other initiatives which should be mentioned and which are described by Richard Heeks in a background paper on e-Governance in Africa. Quoting from this paper the Government of Tanzania has implemented management control mechanisms through the use of information technology. It has recently launched its integrated human resources and payroll systems covering 280,000 public servants. While the capital invested was significant at around 6.5 million US dollars, the savings already accrued in improved management, reduced ghost workers, improved control and accuracy, mean that the project has already paid for itself. The Government of Tanzania has also implemented an Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) at all ministries in Dar es Salaam and Dodoma via a wide area network. IFMS has improved control over expenditure management, resulting in more timely and detailed reporting. Internet-enabled versions of both systems will soon be rolled out nationwide.
Another example of the use of information technology for the good of the citizen or community in this case is the case of the Kibidula Farm Institute which provides research and local expertise in health, agriculture and construction techniques in rural central Tanzania. But there is no running water, no electricity and no efficient means of communication with the outside world. However the Kibidula Farm Institute was then supplied with a solar-powered satellite ground station with email and Internet connectivity. This has provided to address serious local health and medical issues. Subsequently, the Farm used the link to manufacture a single-engine airplane from parts right in the bush and to keep it running through Internet email consultations with the American company that produced the kit. By the late 1990s there were two planes used to get supplies and medical relief to even more remote villages. Citizens therefore receive the benefits of the ICT revolution but indirectly via an intermediary. What accounts for the long-term success of this ICT-based project? First it is a good example of an NGO clearly understanding the needs of its target population. The Farm as an intermediary NGO was able to translate the action dimension of its clientele's needs into corresponding informational components and then to establish a mechanism permitting reliable acquisition of that information on a timely basis. This example shows how NGOs can act as intermediaries between Citizens and ICTs. Once again this example is adopted from Heeks.
Another ICT initiative is Tanzania Online which is a gateway to information on development issues in Tanzania. It is a UNDP/UN, Government of Tanzania and Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF) initiative to address problems faced by Government officials, policy makers, private sector, civil society, donor community, researchers and academicians accessing information on development issues in Tanzania. The objective is to provide an interactive facility for easy access to a comprehensive set of documents about development in Tanzania, analytic work about priorities in development and progress towards poverty reduction and other development targets. The expected output of the initiative is an up-to-date online Internet-based database consisting of a comprehensive set of documents in full text on development issues in Tanzania.
Tanzania Online expects to improve access and exchange of information among and between key government institutions, the public, donor community, private sector, civil society, researchers and academicians.
Tanzania Online database includes analytic documents concerning development in Tanzania, work about priorities in development, progress towards poverty reduction and other sector reform developments. The subjects covered are: Education, Agriculture, Mining, Tourism, Trade, Industries, Health, Poverty reduction, Water Environment, Women development, Private sector development, Science and Technology, and others on development issues. The website disseminates its information content in various ways in order to reach various targeted stakeholders:
Free via the Internet at http://www.tzonline.org Anyone from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection can access and download information. A Current Awareness list is e-mailed to users with no Internet access. The output is in text or Portable Document Format (PDF).
Initial funding has been provided by the UN System (through a Swedish Grant) and the Tanzanian Government. Tanzania Online is implemented by ESRF.
Annex: Questionnaire for the Survey
INFORMATION SOUGHT FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF COUNTRY
PROFILES RELATING TO E-GOVERNANCE
1. Non-Government Initiatives:
Can you cite instances exemplifying the use of ICTs by Private Enterprise, Professional Associations or NGOs to influence the conduct of their own business and/or to influence national/local government policy and decisions.
A brief description and any web-site addresses would be appreciated.
For each of these, you might indicate the following:
Name of initiative and key stakeholders:
Does the site:
provide information only?
also provide services?
also enable feedback?
What are the general experiences so far, particularly with regard to the uptake and usefulness of feedback mechanisms?
2. Government Initiatives
Does Government have any initiatives for the promotion of E-Governance (particularly interacting with citizens electronically)
Can you mention some of the key initiatives?
Is there any on-line information about these projects? Please provide URL
Who are the stakeholders?
What lessons have been learned?
What issues did your country have to face in the application and implementation of e-Government
What benefits did your country obtain from the application and implementation of e-Government?
Could you provide us with any success stories or case studies about the implementation of e-Government in your country?
Are there any published or announced plans for the implementation of e-Government?
Could you provide us with any documentation (preferable online) that outlines of these plans?
Are there any plans to liberalize telecommunications?
At what stage are these plans?
How do you think that these plans will affect the development of e-Governance?
What are the perceived effects of liberalisation so far?
Has a Telecommunication Regulatory Authority been constituted? If so, can you please provide contact details?
1 Accenture, Markle Foundation, UNDP. "Creating a Development Dynamic", Appendix