Posted on: Jul 21, 2010
A National Conference on Electronic Governance was held at the Information and Communication Technology Institute of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) during 11-15 July 2010. This five day national conference was co-organized by MCIT and the Center for Electronic Governance at the United Nations University – International Institute for Software Technology (UNU-IIST-EGOV). The conference aimed at defining a strategic vision and goals for electronic governance development for Afghanistan.
150 participants from all government ministries and agencies at the level of Deputy Ministers and ICT Director Generals, representatives from Commissions on Civil Service, Anti-Corruption and Human Rights, National Data Centre and MCIT provincial offices, and also representatives from USAID, AIMS, Kabul Bank and Kabul University attended the conference.
The conference began with the recitation from the holy Quran followed by welcome and introductions by Mr. Aimal Marjan, Director General of ICT, MCIT. The opening address was delivered by H.E. Eng. Amir Zai Sangin, Acting Minister of Communications and Information Technology, MCIT, followed by welcome notes from Mr. Earl W. Gast, Mission Director, USAID Afghanistan and Dr. Tomasz Janowski, Head of UNU-IIST-EGOV.
In his opening address, H.E. Eng. Sangin highlighted the development of ICT in Afghanistan and presented details of the ICT plans of MCIT.
He said that he was very happy to hold a national conference on electronic governance and that the tremendous development in the ICT field within the last few years was a matter of national pride for Afghanistan and that he hoped for further accelerated development in the future. His Excellency went on to present the development in the mobile services in the country and noted that there were four billion mobile phone users today while one and half billion have access to internet and that these figures increase daily.
He said that every Afghani can get connected by mobile phone and internet within a matter of minutes to any country of the world, a world where more and more dealings and interactions including commerce was being conducted on the internet and through mobile telephony.
His Excellency Eng.Sangin went on to highlight the issue of corruption and how ICT can help tackle this issue. He noted the complexities of current ID card procedures and described the work currently being undertaken by MCIT in cooperation with Ministry of Interior to develop and introduce electronic ID cards for the Afghani citizens. He highlighted that the new e-ID cards will be of highest quality and latest standards and noted that the distribution the new e-ID cards will start in 1390.
He talked about the different ICT infrastructure projects undertaken by MCIT including the Fibre Noori Project which connected Afghanistan to its neighbors and the Afghanistan National Data Center project which will house key national data and how such projects will help develop electronic government in Afghanistan. Another important issue highlighted by His Excellency was the issue of capacity. He noted that there were 8 Cisco academies in Afghanistan today training large number of youth in ICT. In addition, he noted the continued cooperation with the Ministry of Education on this issue and said that MCIT was considering equipping 100 schools with PCs and Internet and 50 hospitals with modern technology in the next five years at a cost of five million USD.
The opening address by H.E. Eng. Sangin was followed by a welcome note by Mr. Earl W. Gast, Mission Director, USAID Afghanistan in which he highlighted the close and cordial relationship between MCIT and USAID. This was followed by Dr. Tomasz Janowski’s presentation in which he welcomed the national conference on electronic governance and the initiatives of the MCIT and Afghan government in ICT and e-Governance development. He went on to describe key trends in electronic governance development around the world and highlighted major lessons learnt in the area.
Organized as part of the EGOV.AF project on Developing Electronic Governance for Afghanistan carried out between MCIT and UNU-IIST-EGOV, the national conference was organized into 9 interactive sessions with multi-stakeholder involvement. They include awareness raising and capacity building on EGOV strategic planning, visioning, goal setting and prioritizing focus areas. Presentations were made my UNU-IIST-EGOV researchers as well as by participants from MCIT and the Kabul University.
The national conference resulted in increased awareness among key stakeholders both from government and other organizations on the global trends in EGOV and role of government leaders in EGOV strategic planning and implementation, sharing and discussion on the findings of EGOV.AF readiness assessment based on the survey results at the national level including official documents, internal and external stakeholders and agency level.
In addition, the conference introduced basic concepts, key issues, approaches and methods for EGOV strategic planning, factors affected EGOV development and also methodology for selecting countries for cases studies were explained. Best practices and cases studies from 9 countries were presented to build capacity of managers from government and non-government stakeholders for developing EGOV.AF strategy. Extensive and interactive discussions within 4 groups between representatives from internal and external stakeholders were organized and facilitated by UNU-IIST-EGOV representatives towards developing a shared vision, strategic goals and focus areas for EGOV.AF development agreed among the key stakeholders.