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Way forward for developing e-government in the Pacific

26 May 2017

Way forward for developing e-government in the Pacific

Pacific people sharing their experiences is one of the keys to developing sustainable e-government systems in the region’s developing nations, according to two Victoria University of Wellington researchers.

School of Government’s Emeritus Professor Rowena Cullen and Associate Professor Graham Hassall launched their book Achieving Sustainable E-Government in Pacific Island States yesterday. It explores the challenges and opportunities for Pacific Island nations developing e-government systems and offers examples of best practice.

The book is based on four years’ research by its editors, who worked extensively with practitioners, businesses, researchers and government agencies in the Pacific to gain an understanding of the region’s existing e-government initiatives, and the policies and issues around regulation and infrastructure.

Emeritus Professor Cullen says the book centres on information communication technology initiatives that enhance government functions and the delivery of information and services to citizens.

“Our aim was to let people tell their stories and identify what was working and what wasn’t in terms of building sustainable e-government.

“There are some good things going on in the Pacific, at the level of individual government agencies and through regional co-operation at an operational level. Some are ground-breaking innovations, which focus on immediate problems of Pacific nations, such as dealing with natural disasters and managing the extensive tuna fisheries in the region. These are initiatives that all countries could learn from.

“Knowledge sharing ‘south-south’ (rather than importing solutions from the industrialised northern hemisphere), amongst all Pacific nations including Australia and New Zealand, is an important contributor to successful and sustainable e-government policy and implementation in individual countries. We hope this book will help in this and many other ways.”

E-government is not new in the Pacific as mobile technologies have been widely adopted, and their internet capabilities are already being used in providing government services. But Associate Professor Hassall says further development is “critical” if these nations are to keep pace with other countries.

“These small states have the same responsibilities as other countries in delivering health and education services and maintaining information systems for things like taxation and government payroll systems, and their people are expecting and demanding better delivery of services. Establishing e-government systems that are appropriate to local conditions is becoming vital to their social and economic development.”

The book identifies the many challenges of developing e-government systems in these developing states. However, the researchers say the biggest challenges are deducing what is possible and ensuring competent leadership for successful coordination and implementation.

Deputy Prime Minister of Tonga Hon. Siaosi ‘Ofakivahafolau Sovaleni, who wrote the foreword, welcomes the book, saying it will be of “considerable importance” to developing nations in the Pacific.

“E-government is a critical issue for us and we need to exploit the opportunities it presents but be mindful that we don’t have the resources to become a testing ground for ideas and ambitious goals.”

Achieving Sustainable E-Government in Pacific Island States is published as part of the International Journal of Public Administration and Information Technology series.


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