A meeting to promote e-governance in small states will be held at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London, UK, on 19 November 2012 and bring together 20 high commissioners from Commonwealth small states, as well as representatives from the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation and Commonwealth Network of Information Technology for Development.
The event aims to facilitate dialogue on the potential of e-governance in small states and to help determine how the Secretariat can best assist them in capacity-building. The meeting also offers a platform for engagement among the high commissioners of small states, international organisations and the private sector to identify avenues to develop productive partnerships.
“The evolution of information and communication technologies (ICTs) over the past decade has provided new digital pathways for collection and diffusion of ideas and practices,” said Max Everest-Phillips, Director of the Secretariat's Governance and Institutional Development Division.
“This promotes collaboration among diverse interest groups, intensifying the voice of communities and creating an environment to encourage digital democracy. The ease of access to information and the exponential increase in social media provides a vibrant digital culture to strengthen social accountability, improve transparency and ultimately achieve good governance goals. E-governance enables government-owned or operated systems of ICT which can transform relations with citizens, the private sector and institutions to promote citizens’ empowerment, improve service delivery, strengthen accountability, increase transparency and improve government efficiency and responsiveness. This will build greater legitimacy in governance through greater interaction between the state and the citizenry.”
Mr Everest-Phillips observed that ICTs play a critical role in modernising government processes and enhancing the ability of the public sector to overcome barriers associated with the small size and isolation of small states. ICTs, he said, can be cost-effective in public outreach particularly for isolated communities. They can improve access to information and communication to facilitate citizen participation in decision-making thereby strengthening social accountability.
“ICTs can improve the quality of institutions when they are connected to global networks that can enhance knowledge, data, analysis and skills. This meeting offers a platform for the sharing of experiences and perspectives on implementing e-governance initiatives, looking at trends and technologies as well as their applications. We can explore ways to maximise the potential of e-governance to strengthen public administration to facilitate more sustainable development outcomes.”