E-Government encourages transparency that allows public sector agencies and citizens have better access to relevant and important information as regards government activities like policies set to be implemented, and public health information.
Technology has come to stay and technology innovations have impacted every aspect of our lives, in fact, we are going through a digital revolution driven by the internet and social media. Such public sector and policy setting, as well as implementation, cannot be exempted. It is estimated that about 4 billion people in the world are connected to the internet, and each of these 4 billion people, through online and offline activities, generates data which provides insights that further drives innovation that can improve our lives – you can see the cycle.
It is easy to see how data of such magnitude can affect the performances of companies in terms of aligning with their customers’ needs and expectations. Same thing can be said of the government or the public sector in terms of better policies, more tailored government services and more effective and efficient distribution of resources.
TechRoundUp, in an exclusive interview with Tolu Ogunlesi, the special assistant to President Muhammed Buhari on Digital and New Media, discussed the role of Technology in current administration and other related topics.
Tolu said, “It’s a must that government must adapt and keep up with changing times”. He said the Nigerian government, especially at the Federal level has been adopting technology to drive the government in the last few years and effect efficiency and change. Some of the examples which many may be familiar with are:
- Procurement platform for government projects – this is managed by BPP for most agencies and NIPEX specific for the Oil and Gas industry.
- The Lagos State Internal Revenue Service just launched an eTax platform that allows individuals and corporate entities file their tax returns.
- You can now do name search and register your company online through the CAC platform and so on.
However, there are hindrances to the adoption of e-government practices and these cannot be downplayed.
- Secrecy is one factor the Nigerian Government is concerned about. The annual budget, for example, is information that for some reasons, most governments make top secret although we’ve seen Tech Startups like BidgeIT use reliable information sources to questions the budget process in Nigeria and bring transparency to it as much as possible.
- Data sources and public data that could be the foundation for many innovative solutions are not readily available or accurate.
- Adoption and use of technology by Public Sector employees is lagging compared to the private section, so change management from the legacy process to tech-driven ones is a major challenge.
- Fairness of private sector-led innovation drive is also an issue – there is almost insurmountable barrier for Tech startup to participate in public sector solution development. There is also lack of oversight on the use of technology to ensure that these solutions are bearing the expected outcomes.
Ogunlesi also confirmed that the government is currently working despite the challenges to be able to obtain feedback from citizens on the use of technology and that government is looking to adopt more technologies including big data analysis and machine learning to take insights from millions of voices providing feedback to the government periodically.
As regards the tech community and the need to allow for the flow of innovation to the business of government, Ogunlesi said there is a lot of opportunities that allow for creative tech solutions. All that is left to do is for the government to properly communicate standard and effective engagement processes that would encourage and accommodate local startups to be more open to a potential collaboration.
Part of Tolu’s interview will be on the new Tech RoundUp episode later this week.