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eGovernment Forschung | eGovernment Research 2001 - 2017

What might have started as a mere wish has now become a horse, ready for the ride.

President Lungu has spoken about it, Secretary to the Cabinet Roland Msiska has ‘preached’ it without tiring.

Zambia is migrating to a smart society; beginning with a simpler and cheaper paperless government system.

President Lungu slid the lid off the secret when he addressed the Second Session of the 12th National Assembly in Lusaka on September 15, 2017.

The President emphasised the important role information and communications technology (ICT) are expected to play in Zambia’s socio-economic development.

The President set the country on the transformation journey to ICT-driven development and public service delivery in 2015 when he launched the ‘Smart Zambia’ agenda.

In his address to the National Assembly in September, he gave a brief update on the progress Cabinet Office has made so far in the implementation of the e-government programme.

“Government has established the Smart Zambia Institute to spearhead the transformation of government operations into a ‘smart government’,” President Lungu said.

He announced that the government was already implementing an electronic system across all government ministries, and that Cabinet business would soon be conducted under a paperless environment.

Those were not empty pronouncements. The training of the personnel who will drive the change has already started.

Last week the first team of 52 technocrats from the Policy Analysis and Coordination Division of Cabinet Office, Smart Zambia Institute and line ministries spent five days attending an intensive training of trainers’ (TOT) workshop at the ICT Centre of Excellence in Ndola.

The e-government system is already being tested and is already helping Government to save K72 million every month through the introduction of electronic payslips for civil servants.

Secretary to the Cabinet Roland Msiska officially opened the workshop at the Zambia ICT College on Tuesday and sat in as a participant the whole morning.

Dr Msiska reminded the participants that they would soon be the burden bearers because they would be expected to roll-out the capacity building in their respective ministries after the TOT.

“We meet today to commence the series of capacity building with the core team from Policy Analysis and Coordination Division, Smart Zambia Institute and line ministries to a level where you will be able to train Cabinet liaison officers, end-users and other relevant officers in ministries and provinces,” he said.

Dr Msiska informed the participants that Government was spending US$9 million [about K85 million] on the implementation process, which is a worthwhile investment.

“I therefore wish to advise you to take this training seriously as from here you will be the agents of change.

“In a few weeks to come, we should be running a more simplified Cabinet process system, a system which shall be completely paperless and without the usual movement of files from ministries to Cabinet Office and vice versa,” Dr Msiska ‘prophesied’.

“This will enable Government to save K68 million [about US$6.8 million] per year on the cost of paper and K72 million on payslips,” he said.

Cabinet Office Policy Analysis and Coordination Division permanent secretary Bernard Kamphasa said the TOT was important because the success of the e-government programme would largely depend on a competent human resource.

“The process has to be driven by the human resource. So we have to train people, and we have identified ministries working with us and the Smart Zambia Institute whose personnel should be trained,” Mr Kamphasa said.

“We have to develop the necessary capacity, necessary skills for conducting e-government. We will give them [the participants] responsibilities to go back to their respective ministries and train those handling Cabinet business.”

And ZICT College and ICT Centre of Excellence executive director Betty Bweupe commended Government for the bold decision to shift to the electronic governance and business.

Her institution is being used for the capacity building because of its top-notch ICT equipment and facilities.

Ms Bweupe said ZICT College is happy that the government is demonstrating commitment to the transformation of the mode of delivery of public services by migrating to electronic platforms.

She said the digital shift will benefit poor citizens.

“We are very happy because this training is translating President Lungu’s speeches into action. As the world moves towards the digital age, Government’s resolve to roll out e-government, e-learning, e-commerce, mobile banking and telemedicine is a step in the right direction because it will promote social inclusion,” Ms Bweupe said.

She pledged her institution’s unflinching support.

The participants did not hide their enthusiasm either. Beaton Sibulowa, assistant director for consultancy and projects at Smart Zambia Institute, is already smelling the whiff of success in the air.

“We are smelling success already. With this kind of technology and state-of-the-art facilities, with the support we are receiving from senior government officials, I am confident that we will get there [e-government],” Mr Sibulowa said.

“So far what we have seen is very good. We will be using this centre a lot in the implementation of the ‘Smart Zambia’ agenda,” he said.

Mr Sibulowa agreed with Dr Msiska’s observation that besides bringing efficiency, the e-Cabinet system will also save costs.

Public policy specialist at Cabinet Office Boyd Chirwa, another participant, said Government could no longer afford to spent colossal amounts of money on paper to do its day-to-day business in this digital era.

“Imagine, every Cabinet memo that has to be tabled has 115 copies. There are 15 items on the agenda and you have to multiply that by 115. These papers are used only once and they become redundant. So there will be a lot of saving,” Mr Chirwa said.

E-government will certainly ease and improve the implementation of pro-poor programmes such as the social cash transfer, women and youth empowerment, e-agriculture and distance education.

It will also reduce the cost of doing business in the public and private sectors.

Soon, the sight of ministers, permanent secretaries and other government officials carting around troves of paper from one office to another will be history.

Don’t the Chinese say the longest journey begins with the first step? Well, Zambia seems to have started her e-government journey with a stride.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Charles Chisala

Quelle/Source: Zambia Daily Mail, 30.10.2017

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