National e-Government Programme of The Gambia
The Gambia is a small, resource-poor developing country, and one of the smallest countries in Africa. Although the country faces numerous development challenges, it has made significant strides in its development efforts. For example, the country is on target to attain the Millennium Development Goals in education and health, and has seen spectacular growth in its information and telecommunications (ICT) sector.
One of the reasons for the tremendous growth of the ICT sector in the country has been the provision of an enabling policy and regulatory environment. In this vein, important legislation has been passed, a regulatory authority created to help develop the ICT sector in the country, and a National Information and Communications Infrastructure policy prepared. This policy has been translated into various action plans, including one to build a sound e-government system in the country.
This e-government program is a result of government’s efforts to leverage ICTs to deliver quality service to the public, increase the efficiency of government agencies, and generally facilitate development. The e-government program will also help attain the objectives of Vision 2020, the country’s national development blueprint, bring government closer to people, and reduce its operational costs.
The e-government program will be implemented in three 5-year phases from 2012 to 2026, thus aligning it with the Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE), the country’s development framework that will follow-on the Strategy for Poverty Alleviation (SPA). The first phase of the program will be aimed at ensuring e-government startup and take-off and will involve establishing key institutions to help implement the e-government program. The second phase of the program will entail broadening and enhancing the program, and finally, the the third phase will entail consolidating its gains to ensure sustainability. Toward these ends, the program will have nine core activities and actions and their respective outputs, namely:
- Setting up e-government enabler-institutions, management and coordination structures
- Developing e-government legislations and other legal instruments
- Implementing a public service institutional reform and re-engineering
- Developing human resources to support implementation of the e-government program
- Developing and deploying requisite communications and IT infrastructure
- Developing and rolling out e-government systems, services, and applications
- Developing a robust, flexible and scalable e-government enterprise architecture
- Mobilizing resources to implement the e-government program
- Creating public awareness and educating the public about the program
The e-government program will require a lot of inputs for its implementation. Among the resources that will be needed will be human resources, financial resources, as well as technical resources such as computers and related equipment, and telecommunications equipment. The total estimated budget for the 15-year program will be $87.825 million (US). Although a significant amount of the total budget will be mobilized from development partners, the government of the Gambia will also provide significant resources, both in terms of budgetary allocations, and in terms of various fiscal incentives to investors, and public private partnership initiatives aimed at the implementation of the e-government program.
The program implementation strategy will be based on a number of planks such as aligning it with national priorities and policies, and using phased implementation, as well as a “whole of government” approach to simplify administrative procedures and government processes, reduces costs, and improves quality of services. In addition, efforts will be made to mobilize adequate resources, and building a strong and diversified partnership base. These efforts will also be complemented by implementing a strong monitoring and evaluation system, and ensuring that the program’s outputs and impacts are sustainable. Proper implementation of the M&E system will help mitigate many of the program risks identified in the program document, and improve the value of lessons learned during its implementation.
In view of the phased implementation of the program, the management arrangements will change over its implementation. During the first phase of the program, and until key management structures are set up, the program will be managed by the Ministry of Information and Communications Infrastructure (MOICI), with a Program Steering Committee consisting of various stakeholders. Once the Gambia ICT Development Agency is formed, it will be responsible for overall management of the program. GICTDA will be an independent agency with a board of Directors, and MOICI as its line ministry.
The e-government program is based on national policy documents such as the National Information and Communications Infrastructure (NICI) policy and plan, the ICT for Development Plan, as well as the E-government Strategic Action Plan. The program is based on best practices in Africa, and is also the result of consultations with government agencies, and various stakeholders and development partners such as the UNDP, which provided support for the preparation of the program. It is anticipated that this consultative approach will continue during the implementation of the program, thus helping build ownership of it by various stakeholders, and hence, increase the chances of its successful implementation.