Over the last 10 years, we’ve seen numerous African countries publish ambitious digital transformation strategies that include plans to transform how governments deliver services to their citizens. They have triggered huge investments, including loans and grants from development finance institutions.
Yet, as of today, we have seen few cases where citizens considerably benefited from better public services enabled by digital technology. According to the 2020 United Nations e-Government survey, 17 of the 54 African countries have a UN e-Government development index lower than 0.3. One 2018 study estimates that “35% of all digital projects in Africa tend to fail and another 50% could be characterized as partial failures”. Some digital services are never delivered. Others are poorly maintained. And for many, uptake and usage is lower than anticipated.
Future digital government programs will only succeed if we have a better understanding of the reasons why initial investments didn’t deliver the expected outcome. The documentation to build such understanding – and that’s specific to the delivery of digital public services in Africa – is currently very limited.*
So that’s why today we’re launching an effort to understand what conditions make digital public service delivery more likely to succeed or fail in the region. We’re going to focus on government-to-citizens (G2C) and government-to-businesses (G2B) user-facing digital services. We’d like to understand more about the type of projects that receive investment and what makes a project successful.
We’d like to hear from you
We put together a short survey for project managers, stakeholders, vendors and donors. It asks for information about one specific project they have worked on in the past 5 years (completed or ongoing). We’ve included questions on governance, technology and approaches to delivery and change management.
We’d like to hear from you whether the project you worked on was /is successful or not – listening to both will be valuable.
Sharing the knowledge
We’ll keep individual contributions and the details of individual projects anonymous – we won’t share anything you’re not comfortable with. However, we will share our research findings and insights publicly so that it benefits everyones. We want to help grow the debate around the conditions for success for digital government services in different contexts.
If you would like to get involved or learn more about our research, email me at [email protected]
*3 sources about the delivery of digital public services in Africa: Project Management for Development in Africa: Why Projects are Failing and What Can be Done about It, Lavagnon A. Ika, 2012; eGovernment in Africa: Promise and Practice, Richard Heeks, 2002; Most eGovernment-for- Development Projects Fail: How Can Risks be Reduced?, Richard Heeks, 2003