Wednesday, January 07, 2015

We need e-governance to improve information access

The introduction of telecommunications and the Internet has, without doubt, enhanced communication and brought people who, hitherto, were far apart closer.

Businesses have also improved, as employing the telephone or going online has reduced time spent on transactions and thereby cut cost in many instances.

Nevertheless, while mobile phone penetration has soared over the years, the same cannot be said of the Internet.

Ghana can boast a host of telecommunication providers, such as MTN, tiGO, Airtel, Glo, Vodafone and Expresso, which are also providing Internet services, with each trying to outdo one another with one package or another.

In view of the very ripe market for Internet services, Surfline, a new Internet service provider, has entered the fray.

While we admit that Internet connectivity is still slow in our part of the world, in spite of the introduction of fibre optic, we realise that Ghana is still underutilising the Internet.

A lot of government business is still being conducted using the archaic way of disseminating information through typed letters and dispatch riders, instead of emails and other real-time modes such as Whatsapp and other social media.

The problem with the old system is that it does not only cause delay in information dissemination but also breaks it when the intended recipients don’t get it.

It is noteworthy that the government is trying to incorporate biometric registration in the national identification and health insurance registration.

However, the Daily Graphic believes that this effort must be extended to all national and government businesses to ensure better service delivery to the public.

E-governance is of utmost importance in this day and age to improve access to information on government business.

Elsewhere in the world, e-governance has been developed to such an extent that one hardly needs to move from a particular location in order to access vital information on government business or services.

Basic information on deaths, births, insurance, the population, transport services available, the weather and other services is available just at the touch of a button.

In Ghana, people still have to queue for basic documents such as passports, NHIS cards and birth certificates and personally travel to book flights, report a fault to a utility service provider or apply for a service.

This, we believe, is one of the conduits for corruption and fraud, since people will always want to pay for a service to be delivered speedily when there is a long queue of people eager to access the same service.

E-governance is also a sure way of bringing citizens who break the law to book, without money exchanging hands, as is the case with drivers arrested for various traffic offences.

Their licence plates could be entered, so that their names are fed into a national database which will compel them to pay any fines slapped on them.

If there is any time to improve e-governance in the country, it is now.

We need proactive thinkers to make access to basic services for the citizenry their priority, no matter one’s location.

It is our hope that the 66th New Year School, which opened last Monday on the theme: “Improving the performance of the Local Government System in the era of E-governance”, will provide just the right tonic needed by the government to take e-governance a notch higher. 



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