The delayed promise of technology in government

As we  inch closer to a new political dispensation, it becomes more apparent the role that technology should play in ensuring transparency, easier access to services and management of personal data.

Well thought out solutions will deliver immense benefits such as saving money that would spent on  consumables used in service delivery, recovering the time value spent daily by thousands who are seeking government services, reduce inefficiencies in data sharing between government operations, streamline communication and even generate revenue from services that entrepreneurs can build off API’s that would be readily available.

First we were all about e-government citing the strides made by countries like Singapore, then the mobile craze hit and we have seemingly  shifted gear to m-government, but while we have stellar champions of technology adoption in government, the effects of governments buy-in are yet to be clearly seen. Why is it taking so long to deliver on this promise with real tangible results?

Understanding government

I have interacted with many civil servants who, having come from a private sector back ground have discovered the minefield and jungle that government is,  with process after process that would make movement on a concept that in private sector would take a few months to pilot and test, take upwards of one year and cost millions.

A way forward

This is not to say that government should be nimble, that in my opinion would make them stop being government. The processes offer the needed checks and balances that governance is all about. My call however is for the adoption of “differentiated ” thinking when working on solutions that will benefit the citizen.

Dogging the innovation process with academic thinking and a “workshop centric ” approach will have us waiting for the realization of technology’s benefits beyond 2030. To avoid this blurred vision, I suggest a simple approach. Government should create an innovation department, that will, with budgetary support operate autonomously to test, develop, approve and deploy solutions that will add value to the citizen. They can engage various local partners on the deployments to avoid any talent issues. This can run parallel to the current efforts to deliver the larger “e” and “m” government strategy. It will also allow for implementations that cannot scale well or fail to deliver on expectation to be committed to the dead-pool without staggering amounts of capital both human and financial having been committed.

It could be a function of awareness on how far the current initiatives, but maybe government should adopt start-up thinking to ride the tech wave.

An Africa based entrepreneur in the pursuit of opportunities without regard to resources currently controlled striving to build services that have real-world value for my beloved continent and beyond while having fun along the way.

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