July 2005

Egyptian e-Government Program

Views: 179

Mohamed Samesh Bedair

is e-Government Program Director of Ministry of State for Administrative Development, Egypt
SBedair@gov.eg

The Government of Egypt realises that development of a strong Communication and Information Technology (CIT) sector is its key to foster local competitiveness in global arena. To back up the sector, the government established the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MCIT) in October 1999. The Ministry has two mandates to achieve. The first is to convert Egypt into an Information Society and the second is to create a marketable CIT industry. Upon establishment, the Ministry laid down the National plan for CIT, which focused mainly on defining a clear road map for Egypt to get integrated smoothly in the global economy.

The Egyptian e-Government program (EISI –government) is a major milestone for Egypt to bridge the digital divide and to convert to an Information Society. The e-Government program officially started in July 2001 but was planned since October 2000.

Vision and objectives
The program envisions enabling the Egyptian government to be able to deliver high quality government services to the public at a place they are and in the format that suits them by the year 2007. The vision is guided by three main principles:

Citizen centric service delivery: The slogan of the program “government now delivers” reflects government’s intention to develop a one-stop shop e-Services approach focused at citizen’s needs.

Community participation: Citizens’ demands are constantly being analysed and reflected, and private/public sector companies are active participants in project’s implementation and management.

Efficient allocation of government resources: Productivity, cost reduction, and efficient allocation of resources are among the major expected outcomes from project implementation.

Main objectives of the program are:

• Delivering services to the public where they are, in the format that suits them, at the right time and allowing them to share in the decision making process.

• Creating conducive environment to investors by streamlining procedures, easing access to government services and providing one-stop shopping for essential business services, thus encouraging foreign and local investment.

• Providing accurate and updated information to support the decision making process, and to help in planning and following up on the different long-term development initiatives.

• Deploying new philosophies and practices of modern management in the government in a mode that will make government operations more efficient and cost effective.

• Reducing government expenditure by introducing new models for procurement, and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).

• Fostering local competitiveness and increasing globalisation readiness to ensure the smooth integration of the Egyptian government in the global community both regionally, and internationally.

Implementation framework

In the new model for service delivery, citizens, businessmen, and suppliers can access government networks directly or through service providers. After authentication, users can access the government gateway (Bawaba) and get the privileges associated with their log in credentials. The government gateway afterwards integrates multiple back ends (Ministries, government bodies and government databases) and provides them with a friendly citizen centric interface. The whole process is supported by a strong infrastructure, and this includes specific standards for networking, information security, document management, and interoperability.

Challenges and proposed solutions

The challenges in the implementation of e-Government and set of proposed  solutions are as follows:

1. Authentication over networks: The absence of a legal framework that allows for remote authentication, makes it difficult to conduct transactions over networks. The proposed solutions are drafting the e-Signature law and creating a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) framework.

2. e-Payment: The duplication of the developed countries e-Payment framework, which is highly dependant on credit cards is not suitable for the developing countries, where the penetration of credit cards is pretty low. Therefore a simple e-Payment framework has been devised that allows for several payment options and meets the majority of citizens’ demands.

In the new model for service delivery, citizens, businessmen, and suppliers can access government networks directly or through service providers.

3. Automation: Lack of standards and specifications for the process of government automation is leading to difficulties in communication and integration between different government bodies. Moreover due to many
cultural and security reasons, there is reluctance in people to use automated systems. To meet the challenges of automating workflows, several documents of standards have been drafted and published. Awareness programs have been launched to make the government employees know about the e-Government culture and techniques.

4. Process workflow: Several problems are faced while ensuring efficient process workflow. Like, reluctance to modify the workflow either as a result of inflexibility or fear of change or wrongfully thinking it needs legislation. Multiple auditing bodies and overlapping authority among government bodies are slowing down the workflows. To defend the re-engineering, there is a need to study business cycles, governing laws and regulation and come up with answers.

5. Networking: There is inexistence of a government communication network whereby different government bodies can interact and exchange information and documents. In solution, a network is being created to improve government communication.

6. Services: Improvement in quality of service delivery has been a major challenge. A single government portal has been introduced that integrates multiple back ends and gives a citizen-centric friendly interface, which provides all government services through a one stop shop technique that assures citizens satisfaction, and convenience.

7. Access: Low penetration of PC, Internet and computer illiteracy is a major hindrance for the majority population to benefit from the new model of e-Government. To meet these challenges, free Internet and affordable PC initiatives have been taken. They provide Internet access at local call cost over phone line and PCs are available at low cost through easy instalment terms. Several access points are created that help citizens access government services online in postal offices, kiosks, IT clubs, and community centres. The Egyptian services portal is also designed to accept new methods of connection to the portal engines like SMS (Short Message Service), IVR (Interactive Voice Response) and ASR (Automatic Speech Recognition), which is under implementation and will be available soon.

Summary of the Egyptian EISI Government Program

Objectives Challenges Projects Components
Enhancing Egyptian Legal and regulatory challenges: Basic Infrastruc -e-Signature and Public Key
government readiness to accept a strong local program -Remote authentication mechanism. -Security and perivacy issues. ture Project Infrastructure. -Document of standards.
and to smoothly integrate in Technological challenges: -Government gateway.
the global community. -Lack of unified standerds -Government communication
-Multiple service providers network.
-Isolated communication islands of -Simple but comprehensive
government bodies. e-Payment framework
Culture and economic challenges:
-Poor penetration of credit cards
-Inexistence of suitable e-payment
method.
Providing timely, customised and quality measured government services to the -Reputation of quality of services. -Inconvenience of delivery mechanisms -Overlap among service providers. Service Delivery Project -Reengineering services and availing them through the Networks (Internet, Telephone
citizens and investors -Computer illiteracy and low PC and and Mobile)
through convenient delivery internet penetration. -Establishing service centers,
channels. everywhere (postal offices, IT
clubs, and telecenters).
-Establishing programs to distrib­
ute PCs for homes and SMEs.
-Reluctance and mistrust of Back office -EISI-Government ERP (Enter-
Increasing efficiency and automation. Automation prise Resource Planning).
reducing expenditure. -Inflexibility to modify workflows (wrongfully thinking its illegal) Project -Document management and electronic archiving.
-Multiple auditing bodies. -Business process automation.
-Overlapping authority
among government bodies.
-Adopting new philosophies and
practices of modern management.
-Reluctance of information sharing Economic -Creation and update of
Providing accurate and among government bodies. Databases and databases.
updated information to serve -Security and privacy issues. Decision Support -Drafting standards and laws for
investors and to support the -Ownership and copyrights issues. Project information sharing, copyrights,
decision making process. -Lack of unified data dictionary and and ownership.
definitions.

Program components Based on the above targeted solutions, several projects were created in the program.

The basic infrastructure project

The basic infrastructure project targets 5 arenas: Legal and Regulatory Issues, Standards, Public Key Infrastructure, ICT Readiness and Government Gateway. The e-Signature law, approved by the parliament is considered a milestone for EISI-Government implementation. Other laws are currently in the pipeline such as the cyber crime and electronic contracting. Four documents have been drafted by the EISI-government workgroup defining the framework requirements in Networking and Messaging, procedures for implementing a document management system and electronic archives, interoperability standards and the code of practice for information security management.

With as many as 700 + services provided by the Egyptian  government, here are a few samples
 Business ServicesCitizen Services
• The Birth certificate/national ID replacement services• The college enrollment guide

• Car license renewal service

• Tourism complaints system

• Egypt Air flight inquiry service

• Cairo Airport traffic

• Electricity bills inquiry

• Public libraries and others

• Taxation and custom services

• Export Guide

•License service for telecommunica­tions companies and others

The Government Portals www.Egypt. gov.eg and www.misr.gov.eg are designed as one-stop-shop for all government services ranging from simple queries, submitting forms and full transaction. The gateway is composed of a registration and authentication engine, a transaction routing engine, multiple service providers’  connectors and is supported by a payment engine. This project has been designed and implemented in cooperation with Microsoft and its Egyptian partners.

Service delivery project

This project is about tailoring government services to meet citizens and investors needs and expectations. The project introduces the customer relationship management (CRM) culture to the government, where citizens are being viewed as customers.

Automation of governorates

The project also includes a special track for the automation of local governorates. It aims at simplifying procedures at local government bodies and establishing back end systems to support the online delivery of governorates services.

Back office automation project

The project proposes automation through a unified EISI-Government applications package for ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) that includes payroll, accounting, budget, personnel, inventory and procurement. e-Documentation is the second arena that is being sought. The first pilot included five Ministerial offices along with the Prime Minister Office. Business process automation was targeted in several high demand citizen service area. Over 28 projects are now implemented in courts, notary public offices, and others.

National and economic databases and decision support project

The aim here is to avail accurate information for decision makers through compiled, linked and mined databases that cover different economic sectors. This will serve the government and valuable for investors to complete their feasibility studies and assure reduced risk to their targeted projects.

Conclusion

EISI-government is strongly emerging with a clear vision and policies encouraging community participation, public-private partnership, co-operation between government bodies, human resource development and quality assurance. The e-Government program is a move in the right direction to an efficient and integrated delivery of all government services and allowing higher levels of transparency.

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