How e-government can spark digital transformation dream

Demonstration of an online application. [David Gichuru, Standard]

As the digital revolution takes place in virtually every sector, governments globally have not been left out in seeking to adopt to the sweeping change.

Surveys show that many countries worldwide have embraced information and communication technologies (ICTs) to deliver services to stakeholders, including their citizens. This has made many processes easier and less cumbersome. The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the quest for digital transformation worldwide.

Here in Kenya, the government has embarked on the journey of digital transformation among other obligations. Indeed, during the peak of the pandemic, many countries established digital government tools such as dedicated web portals to offer public services related to the pandemic.

It is against this backdrop that every Kenyan should support the latest push for digital transformation as this will enhance e-government. It is the future of governance and many aspects of life. The World Bank (2012) defines e-government as "the use of information technology by government agencies that are responsible for transforming information between people, businesses and all other government stakeholders."

E-government is an essential tool for economic growth, more so, the digital economy. Research has defined E-government as the arithmetic mean of three indicators: Telecommunication infrastructure index, Human capital index and Online service index.

The telecommunication infrastructure index is formed by the following constructs/components per 100 inhabitants: Internet users, number of fixed (wired) broadband subscriptions, number of main fixed telephone lines, number of mobile-cellular subscriptions and number of wireless broadband subscriptions.

The human capital index is formed by the following components: adult literacy rate, tertiary, secondary and primary gross enrolment ratio, expected years of schooling and the average years of schooling.

The online service index is made up of the scope and quality of online services. Hence, the three indicators must be put in place for a successful digital transformation agenda.

The United Nations E-government Survey of 2022 on the future of digital governments highlights the increasing contribution of digital transformation and e-government in enhancing the realisation of the year 2030 agenda for sustainable development. According to the United Nations e-government Survey of 2022, the top five leading countries globally in e-government development index, 2022 were Denmark, Republic of Korea, Finland, Estonia and Netherlands.

The United States and United Kingdom ranked 10 and 12 respectively while Kenya featured far down the list. However, regionally, Kenya ranked number 10 in Africa, behind South Africa, Mauritius, Seychelles, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Ghana, Cabo Verde and Algeria in that order. More specifically, Kenya's e-government development index was 0.5589 in 2022, up from 0.5326 in 2020 compared to South Africa's 0.7357 in 2022, up from 0.6891 in 2020.

Based on President William Ruto's passion for technology, it can be predicted that Kenya's e-government development index is bound to improve remarkably very soon.

This will be in tandem with the digital economic growth, thus resulting into the general economic growth of the country. In a nutshell, the underlying benefits of e-government include a cost effective way of running government, improved efficiency and effectiveness in management of public affairs.

More so, e-government environment generates increased esteem since government becomes more responsive in meeting stakeholders' needs. In the same vein, e-government improves the quality of service delivery and hence this can result into increased happiness index of the stakeholders.

The flip side of the whole scenario is that digital transformation can easily be derailed by the lack of the necessary infrastructure and skills. Hence, the government should address these shortfalls to implement the e-government agenda successfully.

All in all, the government's agenda to improve the e-government development index should be supported by all and sundry, starting with county governments moving up to the national government.

The writer is a lecturer at Jaramogi Ogina Odinga University

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