The concept of "Electronic Government" - the application of modern information and communications technologies (ICT) to facilitate governmental processes - has been incorporated by many governments worldwide as part of their reform initiatives. "E-Government is equally important for well-developed and developing countries", asserts Prof. Wojciech Cellary of the Poznan University of Economics, Poland (and General Chair of ICEGOV2008). "For well developed countries, it is a matter of efficiency and inclusiveness. For developing countries, it is a matter of efficiency, inclusiveness and transparency. Efficient, inclusive and transparent governance is of primordial importance for every economy and society".

Most Electronic Government initiatives, however, have met with limited success, due to over-reliance on technology, insufficient administrative reform, too little emphasis on building human capacity, weak governmental collaboration, and inadequate public consultation or planning. How to overcome these challenges, especially during this time of global recession, will be discussed during ICEGOV2008.

The annual ICEGOV conference series, which originated in Macao in December 2007, focuses on the use of technology to transform relationships between government and its customers (citizens, businesses, and other arms of government), or "Electronic Governance", beyond the traditional focus on technology-enabled transformation within government, a.k.a. "Electronic Government". The aim is to build a global community for Electronic Governance comprising practitioners, developers and researchers from government, academia, industry and non-governmental organizations, able to cross not only national but also institutional and thematic borders.

According to Dr. Tomasz Janowski, Head of the UNU-IIST Center for Electronic Governance and founder of the ICEGOV conference series: "With already well-functioning public administrations in high-income countries, technology in government promises linear improvements. However, such improvements could be dramatic for developing countries, with weak public organizations mandated to meet tremendous needs. The focus on Electronic Governance, rather than Electronic Government alone, helps consider how government investments in technology, resulting in expected social and economic benefits, contribute to the fulfillment of development goals. This view is supported by the high rate of participation in ICEGOV from developing countries".

ICEGOV2008 will provide a forum where experts and practitioners in Electronic Governance can discuss current challenges and the best ways to address them. It also will enable policy makers from developed and developing countries to identify effective approaches to building a good framework for implementing "Good Governance through Electronic Governance".

During the four days of the conference, government representatives will describe initiatives undertaken and challenges faced; representatives from industry and non-governmental organizations will propose and demonstrate potential technological, organizational and societal solutions to common challenges; and representatives of academia will present new models, theories and frameworks that extend our understanding of Electronic Governance and provide the foundation for building new tools and methods. Panel discussions, invited sessions and tutorials will address the application of Electronic Governance to cross-disciplinary themes such as reconstruction, conflict resolution, health, environment and education.

The conference series is consistent with the United Nations mandate to promote maximum utilization of ICT for socio-economic development in developing countries and administrative reform of their governments. The knowledge gap in Electronic Governance is evident from the 2008 UN e-Government Survey: no country from Africa, Central and South America, or Central and South Asia ranks among the top 35 countries in terms of "e-Readiness".

ICEGOV2008, therefore, will give special emphasis to the needs of developing countries, particularly those in Africa. With development funds for ICT infrastructure being finally available for Africa, the question of how to judiciously use these resources for optimal results will be discussed in a forum dedicated to e-Governance in Africa.

In his welcome message, Dr. Ahmed Darwish, Minister of State for Administrative Development, Egypt, said: "It is my pleasure to welcome ICEGOV attendees to Egypt. I am glad to see that the conference has emerged and matured to include on its agenda such topics as transparency, integrity, and accountability, and building bridges of trust between the government and the public. Discussion of such topics within this rich environment, where we have participants from government and academia in addition to stakeholders from industry and NGOs, will guarantee voluntary contributions and recommendations that are applicable in real world."

Event co-organizers: Center for Electronic Governance, United Nations University International Institute for Software Technology (UNU-IIST) and German University in Cairo (GUC)


Event patron: Ministry of State for Administrative Development, Government of Egypt

Key sponsors: Government of Macao SAR (China), Macao Foundation and Microsoft Corporation

Other sponsors: United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Europe (UNECE), E-Government Research Centre at the China School of Administration, and Macao Post

Source: William Auckerman
United Nations University

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