05 October, 2011

Is e-government optional in Tanzania?

Search information in Tanzanian government websites is such a hectic exercise that one will end up in frustration.. But how is that possible with a good number of well trained ICT experts from growing number of universities and colleges the government has at its disposal? How is that possible with staffs who get paid to work on keeping the information active through the channels?

It doesn’t matter the rank or reputation of an institution, still a good number of public institutions face the problem of effective and efficient running of their channel of information through the newly innovated means of electronic systems,, the websites to mention but a few.

This is so unlucky as different governments now embark on systems that allow flow of information to the public with active usage of online ways such as website.

We saw it in the past few months when the Kenyan government launched its their “open governmenta hub to all governmental information. A unique initiative to enable citizens and any interested actor with information to easily access it without any hitches.

And we can’t forget how some of the African countries have embraced the idea of “open data” from the United States of America, even though they do little in their mother countries. I believe, they could at least do this even without an external stimulus.

Of course I understand there are some crucial information that cannot be released in the channels like online due to their sensitivity like information which has to do with national security.

Most of the people are interested in having easy accessibility of those normal information to simplify workings of different actors such as researchers, academicians and students.

I normally don’t understand why we don’t have in time information such as reports, speeches, policies, and any other government documents online if at all the were initially produced in soft copy to go for printing. Why didn’t they upload the soft copy to the respected government website after launching or having the hard copy?

You can be surprised for example; there is no any soft copy of National Youth Policy of 2007 as a more recent youth policy in the country even after four years of its production and three years of its official launching

Or you cannot find some of ministerial budget speeches in their respected ministry websites even after being presented to the parliament. Just try to search and one can tell how many ministries and government departments have uploaded their budget speeches that touch their operations, simply very few of them!

It should be noted that, not everyone can be able to access the hard copies of different government documents due to obvious reasons.

But with the era of protecting the environment and the need to minimize printed documents and opt for online usage of documents; this should also be a government practice.

I just remember one of an analytical cartoon by a popular cartoonist known as Masoud Kipanya (KP): that being in e-government doesn’t mean to open up accounts in social networks such as Facebook and Twitter (as more of our leaders have done lately)!! But something more has to be done. Really our government and its all parastatals has to do more and more.

It is high time now to see live and active governmental and parastatals websites with enough and easily accessed information. It is time to see the brains of innovations in the area.

We should not forget that with easy accessibility of all needed information to the public not only will enable us to score some marks when it comes to international indexes especially the ones to do with transparency and good governance, but it will be good for our own growth in all dimensions as it will simplify works to our researchers, journalists, academicians, students, you name it-in their day to day works.

And this shouldn’t be a call to the government and its parastatals only, but also to all institutions in the country to try as much as possible to supply necessary information to the public.

©Michael Dalali, 5th October, 2011


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