The National Information and Communication Infrastructure (NICI) of The Gambia have laid out its policies and plans where ICT can contribute to the attainment of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Program (PRSP) of the country.
One of the pillars of the NICI policies, strategies and plans is the e-Government. Through the guiding principles of the African Information Society Initiative (AISI), the e-GOvernment strategy of The Gambia was formulated and is aimed to: (i) assist the country in its efforts to develop multi-sectoral e-government programme, and (ii) within the AISI framework, support the projects prepared by the national technical committee with the assistance of ECA.
Subsequently, one of the major e-Government strategies is the Development, Portals/Government-Public Interface, and Applications. A priority activity under this strategy is the Design and Development of Government Web Portal that will provide sufficient relevant information about the Gambia Government and its Ministries (including but not limited to plans, programs and services). It should enable citizens’ access those services and related information and provide their feedback.
In other words, a government web portal is a tool designed to support the activities of governmental bodies by giving them the possibility to exchange information with the public over the internet. The typical users of government web portal are citizens, businesses, other governmental agencies, civil society organisations/NGOs, visitors, i.e. all the parts of society that entertain relations with public agencies (and have access to the internet).
The Country Programme for the Gambia (2007-2011) prepared by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) emphasizes in almost all their programs their support towards improving transparency, accountability and improving capacity at all levels of government. MOICI, as the lead agency of the e-government initiative, believes that a government web portal is an effective tool in promoting and advocating these concerns.
With the support of UNDP, the government web portal implementation has officially started last July 2009 under Phase I – Publish Phase. Phase I intends to use ICT to expand access to government information, providing the public (G2G, G2C & G2B) with relevant information. The value to the public is that government information is publicly accessible; processes are described and become more transparent. Phase II & Phase III will come in a later stage. The implementation of Phase I will continue until all relevant and updated information is publicly accessible.
II. OBJECTIVES OF THE GOVERNMENT WEB PORTAL
A government web portal is primarily focused on providing accurate, relevant and timely information with the end view of making it easier, faster and more transparent to deal with government from the viewpoint of citizens, business and other sectors of society.
III. EXPECTED BENEFITS OF THE GOVERNMENT WEB PORTAL
The portal is expected to provide the following benefits:
- Greater coordination between and among government data providers in order to correct discrepancies and eliminate redundancies of data and information.
- Reduction in process time. With the structured organization of information, citizens and business firms can get information or service from a specific agency faster.
- Highest availability and accessibility of quality government information
- Facilitate transparency and accountability
- Reduction on administrative burdens
- Greater public awareness about the activities, services, programs of the government
- Improved service level and trust to the government
IV. PROPOSED OUTCOMES
Once Phase I will be fully implemented, some of the proposed outcomes will be immediately realized, while others will slowly take place once the portal will be sustainable. The proposed outcomes are for both the government and the society, namely: