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Kinondoni municipality discusses ICTs in local government

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Feb 27 2003, Tanzania [TZ], Governance

For two days in February 2003, members of the Kinondoni Municipal Council in Tanzania explored the application of ICTs for good governance.

There was a full council meeting at the , one of the three municipalities in the city of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. For two days in February 2003, the only agenda item for the Kinondoni Municipal Council in Tanzania was Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for good governance at the municipal level. This was a rare mix of words for the professional administrators and wordsmiths, however, interest and a common vision to improve urban governance and management for better service delivery for the people of Kinondoni, prevailed. The workshop was held dominantly in Kiswahili.

One-stop-shop

In his opening remarks, Hon Salum Londa, the Mayor for Kinondoni Municipal Council, said that the current situation in the council reveals that most of the functions carried out by the sectoral departments at all levels involves manual processes and is in greater extent ineffective and inefficient. “To better serve the information needs in the decision making process, the municipal authority has to establish a demand driven ICT (system) which will act as a one-stop-shop for information users with respect to generating own data, accessing data from other agencies and disseminating the same data to the general public,” the Mayor said.

Following Roundtable consultations held by stakeholders in Dar es Salaam in 1999 on the role of ICTs in promoting good governance, Kinondoni municipality was selected to implement a pilot project in this area. The ICTs for good governance, as a pilot project, was introduced in Kinondoni and received technical support from the International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD) based on a proposal from the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) who became the implementing agents.

The pilot at Kinondoni has made meaningful gains in terms of the awareness it has created, lessons learned and reality checks. Some of the lessons from the project include issues of ownership, awareness levels, capacity development, readiness and political will among others. Kinondoni Municipality is now engaged in an expansion project of this pilot much wiser than three years ago when the pilot was commissioned. Other than the wisdom there seems to be a lot of political will with the project enjoying massive support from all the participating councilors and senior officers of the municipality. “We are anxious and would like to have some progress in this project and we would like to see all the inputs that we have made here are translated into action,” said one participant.

Capgemini

While making a presentation at the workshop, Olaf Kruidhof, an eGovernment consultant from Capgemini based in the Netherlands, said eGovernment is about change and not technology. He said eGovernment helps bring the government closer to the people and, therefore, changes the relationship between the government and its citizens. Mr Kruidhof worked the participants through the Capgemini eGovernment model and engaged them in exercises that made them identify needs specific to their areas of specialization in the broad disciplines of health services, education and administration.

The participatory approach enabled the participants to share ideas, their fears and concerns. One of the issues that worried them most was the infrastructure investment required to implement eGovernment. Most participants said they are willing to go along with the project but feared that the municipality could not single handedly fund it. “We are ready to go, but how do we get the required equipment and other resources to get us going? The council cannot afford it,” a participant said. Another area of concern was the issue of training, which the team from COSTECH addressed quite ably.

Addressing the participants at the end of the workshop, Mr. Theophilus Mlaki, the Director of Information at COSTECH, said he was pleased by the level of participation and the enthusiasm showed by the leaders and that he and other partners are keen to make the Kinondoni project a model that can be used worldwide. The outcomes of the workshop would be used by the municipal taskforce to develop a project proposal, which will then be used to seek for financial assistance. Mr. Nic Moens, the IICD programme manager for Tanzania said IICD will provide expert advice in this process. The workshop was organised by the Kinondoni Municipality Council, IICD and COSTECH.

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