E-Government: Technology for Good Governance, Development and Democracy in the MENA Countries - Economic Research Forum (ERF)

The MENA countries face a multitude of challenges, in particular relating to the efficiency, size and reform of the public sector. Large public sectors, highly centralised government administrations, complex regulatory structures, limited development of institutions and limited attention to promoting voice, transparency and accountability in government are characteristic of the situation in many MENA countries. The application of modern technologies and ICT in the form of e-Government could yield great benefits in the reform and modernization of the public sector. The experience of e-Government in a number of developed as well as in developing countries has proven to be a tool for economic development, institutional and civil service reform, for greater efficiency and transparency and has led to higher productivity growth in government provided goods and services. The institution of e-Government can also be instrumental in achieving ‘good governance’, direct representation and voice, providing support for increased democracy. The paper discusses and assesses the extent of e-readiness of the MENA countries documenting the limited network readiness of countries and governments. We present a number of policy recommendations, outlining the components for a national and regional strategy to achieve the benefits of e-Government in the MENA region. Strong leadership is required to implement institutional reform both within government and at the national level to capture and internalise the benefits of e-Government. The paper reviews and provides references to some on-going projects and highlights new applications with high potential returns for the MENA countries. We call for increased investment in broadband technology, the institution of a General Digital Certificate to build e-Human Capital and the incorporation and imbedding of e-Government within national e-Strategies. Countries in the MENA region need to act quickly to reduce the digital divide and use e-Government as a tool for good governance, economic development and democracy.

Research Fellows

Nasser Saidi

Nasser Saidi & Associates

Hala Yared



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