Challenges facing e-government projects in Kenya
Mungai, Alfred Ngugi
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Electronic government (E-government) is the utilization of Information Communication Technologies (lCTs) to transform the efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and accountability of exchanges within government, between government and citizens and businesses locally and abroad; and to empower citizens through access and use of information. The broad objective of the study was to identify the challenges facing the E- government project in Kenya. In addition, the study sought to achieve the following specific objectives: to establish the effect of government's information sharing policies on implementation of E-government project; to determine the effect of levels of technical knowledge and skills amongst staff on implementation of E-government project; to determine the ICT infrastructure-related factors that hinder successful implementation of E-government project; and, to establish the extent or readiness of staff to change occasioned by computerization of government services. The study adapted a descriptive research design which involved a field survey in the selected government ministries. The ministries included the Ministry of Vice-President and the Ministry of Home affairs; Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ministry of. Finance; Ministry of State for Public Service; Ministry of Planning & Vision 2030; Office of the Attorney General; Ministry of State for Immigration & Registration of Persons; Ministry of Lands; Office of the Deputy Prime Minister & Ministry of Local Government; and Ministry of Information & Communication (Head office). Primary data was collected from the staff in the head offices of these ministries using questionnaires. The data from the study was analyzed using both qualitative and quantitative techniques. Quantitative data was analyzed using SPSS (Statistical Package for Social Sciences). Descriptive statistics such as percentages and frequencies were used to analyze the data. The findings were presented using tables and charts. First, the findings established that information sharing policy-related barriers to advancement of the E-government project include: legalistic obstruction to the flow of information; unauthorized access by a section of the employees; prohibited access by members of the general public; fear of breach of confidentiality; and lack of innovativeness in secure information-sharing within the Government agencies. These policy guidelines were identified as drawbacks to implementation of the E-government project in Kenya. Secondly, the findings showed that the main skills-related challenge to implementation of E-government is the shortage of highly trained ICT professionals and not the approaches used to training, perceived benefits, or extent of government's commitment. Thirdly, The findings showed that high cost of investment in ICTs; high cost of support services by ICT software and equipment vendors; and lack of government's commitment towards development of an ICT policy to guide the Ministries in developing their ICT infrastructure; lengthy procurement procedures; low prioritization of ICT development in the Ministries; and lack of innovativeness in ICT development in the Ministries are the main ICT infrastructure-related factors hindering success of E-government project in the sampled Government ministries. Finally, the findings indicated that selection of staff to participate in change management programmes was selectively done since it is only a portion of employees that were prepared for change before roll-out of E-government. This affected the success of E- government project in several ways. For instance, some employees felt that it was done unfairly hence they developed an attitude of resistance to change. The study recommended improvements in four thematic areas. First, the government should look into ways of reducing the cost of K'Ts equipment through measures such as duty waiver or outsourcing equipment and leT services form private proprietors. Secondly, the government should look into ways of enhancing the skills of staff in regard to usage of a multiplicity of new ICTs. Thirdly, all the staff should be taken through change management programmes to enable them accept the roll-out of e-government in their respective ministries. Finally, the existing policies on information access should be streamlined as necessitated by the sensitivity of the information but should not be used in all situations or circumstances. The Government should make the policies more supportive and also enhance the stakeholders' participation.