A Government Interoperability Framework (GIF) is therefore central and, given particularly the impact of the global economic crisis on countries capacities to achieve development goals, simply imperative in ensuring that governments use and deployment of ICTs are focused, directly linked to citizens needs, designed in a cost-effective way, and implemented efficiently.

4, 5 and 6 of May – Rio de Janeiro – Brasil

Press Release on Rio’s Global Meeting

Developing countries: Technologies are crucial to reach MDGs by 2015

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Government officials representing nearly 30 developing countries from various regions agreed on a joint declaration calling on governments, civil society and the private sector to work together and make use of integrated information and communication technologies (ICTs) to accelerate progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)–eight internationally-agreed goals which seek to alleviate poverty.

The declaration was one of the results of a three-day global meeting on e-governance frameworks, which are needed to integrate various government information and services. It is also crucial that these diverse systems are able to work together: to ‘inter-operate’. These frameworks would benefit citizens by granting easy access to government-related transactions, ideally through a single window – a one-stop portal available on the internet, via mobile phones or in person.

We need this explicit link between e-governance policies to development priorities,” said Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, Director of the Democratic Governance Group at UNDP. “It is crucial that decision-makers understand that e-governance is essential to cater to the needs of their citizens and stakeholders in terms of basic public services and access to information.”

The gathering, hosted by the Government of Brazil and organized with the support of UNDP, IBM and Oracle, brought together over 100 experts and stakeholders from governments, civil society organizations and the private sector. They discussed how to bring ICTs into the MDGs agenda by focusing on providing basic services to people, particularly marginalized and underserved populations. In addition, they shared successes on how integrated solutions can lead to cost efficiency and scalability – at municipal, state and federal levels.

“Focusing on government ‘interoperability’ can give citizens choices to access public services,” Fraser-Moleketi added. “This is especially important in rural areas or places with limited access to public services.”

South-south cooperation
Several countries have been showing good examples, trying to put together such single-stop e-governance portals.

Brazil, for example, has successfully implemented its own e-governance initiative, called ‘e-ping: Electronic Government’, which has provided the grounds to expand the coverage of basic services to poor populations and improve the quality of existing services.

India’s national e-governance plan had built its own platform, enabling rural populations to access basic services through 100,000 Common Service Centers: platforms that can enable the Government, the private sector and civil society organizations to align their social and commercial goals seeking to benefit the rural population through IT-based and non-IT-based services.

South Africa’s e-governance system, called MIMOS, is an example of how to involve stakeholders in the e-governance system’s development and how to help build support for its implementation.

Citizen involvement

The meeting also stressed the need for a citizen-focused approach, noting that they are not only consumers of government services and information, but are also key stakeholders. Therefore, citizens should play an active role in the design and implementation of e-governance frameworks.  Participants also agreed that issues such as the need to guarantee privacy, confidentiality, security and openness should be explicitly addressed.  Many governments are also driving ‘interoperability’ to ensure that citizens do not have to share the same information more than once, for government-related purposes – at several levels.

The meeting ended with the agreement to create a community of practice on e-governance frameworks and development, which will foster exchanges of ideas and experiences among countries and further promote South-South cooperation.

For more about the Global Meeting on Government Interoperability Frameworks 2010, visit, http://www.gif4dev.net/

For more on what UNDP is doing on Access to Information and e-governance, visit:
http://ict.undp.org/e-gov

For more on the MDGs, visit: http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/