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ASSESSMENT ON ICT INTEGRATION IN CIVIL SERVICE: A CASE OF CAMEROON

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ASSESSMENT ON ICT INTEGRATION IN CIVIL SERVICE: A CASE OF CAMEROON

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the Study

Civil service in Cameroon is structured into various ministries, departments, and agencies responsible for implementing government policies and delivering services to the public. These include sectors such as health, education, finance, agriculture, and many others. Bizarrely, research has found out that the civil service productivity and performance continue to dwindle, the reason was partly due to the lack of commitment on the part of the civil service to government work and low morale of the civil service. This situation has hampered service delivery in the public sector. As observed by Nguyen (2020) that in the past, Cameroonian public service was short-staffed. The various structures of the government had a clear idea of civil servants appointed in their level but also the associated salaries that should be paid to each of them. In this context, it was difficult to fraud. For example, it was difficult to face the presence of an unknown civil servant in the administration, and if this come in happening, sanctions were imposed on any individual causing or participating in this malfunctioning of the service. 

Over time, the administration witnessed a rapid increase of its staff, making it difficult to implement controls that were used until then. From that moment, the authorities began to lose control of staff and payroll. This situation became more complex with the creation of new administrative structures within the entire territory. Due to the distance between the Service in charge of control and decision-making, it has become very difficult for official to carry out control in all the services around the entire territory.  More so, when teach control is launched, the government has to spend a certain amount of money for staff control to move the central services to delocalized services. From this situation, two problems arose in the management of services: (1) deceased civil servants were not reported; (2) it was difficult to ascertain the actual presence of civil servants in their duty work post. From this second category emerged a type of civil servants called "ghost workers" in the Cameroonian administration. In practice in these administrations, the communication between management services that process career decisions and those in charge of financial management is very weak and collaboration between these services is very difficult. This difficulty emerged because of the fact that the files were not always classified to allow easy access and civil servant after the processing of their file by the career management service have to collect the instrument and submit a new file in the financial services. Given the volume of the files, the search of a single file in the formed cluster of files almost becomes very complicated to the point that nobody dares to do them. The fact that civil servants must transmit their files to management services with the introduction of evidences of their recruitment, appointment to a position of responsibility and any other document required to receive special income in the processing of their salaries, contributes to the growth of inconsistencies in the human resource information.

To address this problem, several actions were taken by Cameroon.  Oviaze (2019) assert that the Cameroonian government has initiated various reforms aimed at improving the performance and professionalism of the civil service. These reforms include measures to strengthen recruitment processes, enhance training and capacity-building initiatives, promote transparency and accountability, and combat corruption and nepotism which can be achieved through integration of information and communication technology in Civil Service. These actions include the deployment of several information systems by the government. Harthony (2018) stated that communication system carries a mixture of voice, data and image signals that are used effectively as intelligent rods in communication system acting as switches, multiplexes, demultiplexens protocol converters

Imperatively, Jimoh (2019) defines Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as the handling and processing of information (texts, images graphs, instruction, etc.) for use, by means of electronic and communication devices such as computers, cameras, telephones. Offodu (2021) also refer to ICT as electronic or computerized devices, assisted by human and interactive materials that can be used for wide range of teaching and learning as well as for personal use.  Olorunsola and Ekong (2021) emphasized that the importance of computers in the exchange of electronic mail (e-mail) with other users, transfer of public domain software from another computer into another disk so that anybody can run the programme on the computer and hold conference with a number of other users. Also Bhuiyan (2011) studies maintained that computerization of infrastructure in civil service impacts public sector in Bangladesh has been taking place to replace internal manual work processes by ICT-based automation.

Fountain (2021) opined that better public service requires first a thorough rethinking and reexamination of the structure of public services and then to exploit possibilities of creating value by working across boundaries and jurisdiction to foster potential gains of redesigned services in terms of speed and cost. The digitalization of service delivery has been successfully assimilated by most governmental institutions, which now consider ICT to be a strategic tool to efficiently support the implementation of government service delivery and economic emergence policies at both national and local government levels. This development has impelled a fury of ICT policymaking in Africa and other developing countries (Chiumbu, 2018). In the case of Cameroon, the emerging reality is that public administration, as well as local governance, are in transition to electronic (e)-processes (Sindeu, 2023). In Tandem with the 2016 strategic plan for a digital Cameroon by 2020, the National Development Strategy (NDS30) was adopted in 2020 as a new benchmark for public action that emphasizes the digitalization of administrations at the national and local levels in achieving development objectives of making Cameroon an emerging economy by 2035.

Statement of the Problem

In recent decades, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has emerged as a potent tool for enhancing efficiency, transparency, and service delivery in both public and private sectors worldwide (United Nations, 2018). Recognizing the transformative potential of ICT, governments across the globe have been actively pursuing digitalization agendas to modernize governance structures and improve public service delivery (OECD, 2020).

In Cameroon,, the government has likewise prioritized ICT integration as a key strategy for advancing socioeconomic development and promoting good governance (Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, Cameroon, 2019). Initiatives such as the National ICT Strategic Plan (2018-2022) underscore the government's commitment to leveraging digital technologies to enhance public service delivery, promote e-governance, and foster innovation (Government of Cameroon, 2018). According to Ovum Cameroon had initiated several reforms in organizational and technological level. Technological reforms involve the implementation of ICT tools to support the human resource information systems for the management of the entire civil servants. The first tool, known as ANTILOPE¸ was developed for the management of the payroll. This system was launched in 1986. The second tool, known as SIGIPES, was developed for the management of civil servant careers. This second ICT project was launched in the year 2000. Regardless of the use of these two ICT tools, the government of Cameroon did not succeed in meeting its objectives related to the mastering of civil servants in terms of quantity, quality, organization and wage bill. The third attempt, aiming to solve these problems, consisted in the implementation of an integrated human resource information system based on the ERP SAP for greater efficiency and effectiveness. The attempt was launched in the year 2012. Unfortunately, this last attempt also faced numerous difficulties which could predict a failure. Despite the  attempted integration of ICT in Cameroon public service   the extent of its success is unknown.

Despite these efforts, the effective integration of ICT within the civil service of Cameroon remains a complex and multifaceted challenge. The country faces various structural, institutional, and socio-economic barriers that impede the seamless adoption and utilization of ICT in public administration (Afrobarometer, 2021). Challenges such as limited ICT infrastructure, inadequate human capacity, regulatory constraints, and financial constraints pose significant obstacles to the realization of the full potential of ICT in the civil service (World Bank, 2021). Moreover, there is a paucity of empirical research and systematic assessments that provide insights into the current status, challenges, and opportunities regarding ICT integration in the civil service of Cameroon (Ndi, 2019). Existing studies often focus on specific aspects of ICT adoption or rely on anecdotal evidence, thereby limiting the comprehensiveness and generalizability of findings (Ngah, 2020). Against this backdrop, this study seeks to fill the existing gap in knowledge by conducting a comprehensive assessment of ICT integration in the civil service of Cameroon.

Objectives of the Study

The aim of this study is focused on an assessment on ICT integration in civil service: a case of Cameroon 

Specifically, the study seeks to conduct an assessment on ICT integration in civil service: a case of Cameroon

Examine the extent of ICT adoption into administrative processes in Cameroon Civil Service

Ascertain the impact of ICT integration on  service delivery mechanisms and efficiency in Cameroon Civil Service

Investigate the barriers to effective ICT integration in Cameroon civil Service

Research Question

What is the extent of ICT adoption into administrative processes in Cameroon Civil Service

What is the impact of ICT integration on  service delivery mechanisms and efficiency in Cameroon Civil Service?

What are the barriers to effective ICT integration in Cameroon civil Service?

Research Hypotheses

Ho: The extent of ICT adoption into administrative processes in Cameroon Civil Service is low

Hi: The extent of ICT adoption into administrative processes in Cameroon Civil Service is high

Significance of the Study

From a practical standpoint, this study holds significant implications for policymakers, practitioners, and stakeholders involved in public sector reform and digital transformation efforts in Cameroon. By offering empirical evidence and actionable recommendations, the study equips decision-makers with valuable insights to inform policy formulation, strategic planning, and resource allocation related to ICT integration initiatives. Moreover, by identifying key challenges and opportunities, the study provides practical guidance for overcoming barriers to ICT adoption and maximizing the benefits of digitalization within the civil service. Ultimately, the findings of this study have the potential to catalyze tangible improvements in service delivery, transparency, and accountability, thereby contributing to the overarching goal of enhancing governance effectiveness and fostering sustainable development in Cameroon.

Theoretically, the study contributes to understanding of ICT integration within the civil service context, particularly in the context of developing countries like Cameroon. By drawing on theoretical frameworks from fields such as public administration, information systems, and development studies, the study aims to elucidate the dynamics and determinants of ICT adoption and utilization within bureaucratic structures. Furthermore, by exploring concepts such as digital governance, e-government maturity models, and technological determinism, the study seeks to provide theoretical insights into the factors shaping the trajectory of ICT integration and its implications for governance effectiveness and public service delivery. Through its theoretical contributions, the study enriches academic discourse on ICT-enabled governance reforms and provides a conceptual foundation for future research endeavors in this area.

Scope of the Study

The scope of the study borders on an assessment on ICT integration in civil service: a case of Cameroon. In content, the study will examine the extent of ICT adoption into administrative processes in Cameroon Civil Service, the impact of ICT integration on service delivery mechanisms and efficiency in Cameroon Civil Service and investigate the barriers to effective ICT integration in Cameroon civil Service. Geographically, the study will draw its respondent from Civil Service in in Yaoundé Municipal, Cameroon.

Limitations of the Study

While the study aims to provide a comprehensive analysis, certain limitations may arise, such as constraints related to data availability, access to certain regions or institutions, and the inherent challenges of measuring and assessing corruption. Firstly, limited availability of data or access to official government records may constrain the depth and breadth of the analysis. Due to the case study approach focusing on specific Civil servants in Yaoundé Municipal, the findings may lack generalizability to other regions or countries. Therefore, caution will be exercised in extrapolating the results beyond the study context. More so, the study's sample selection process may introduce bias, as certain communities or demographic groups may be overrepresented or underrepresented. This could affect the validity and representativeness of the findings. Limited time and resources may restrict the scope of the study, impacting the depth of data collected and the comprehensiveness of the analysis. This could result in overlooking certain aspects or dynamics relevant to the research questions. Despite these limitations, the researcher will acknowledge and address these challenges transparently to enhance the credibility and rigor of the study.

1.9 Definition of terms

Civil Service: The civil service comprises the body of individuals employed by the government to administer public policies and deliver public services. These employees typically work in various government departments, agencies, and ministries, carrying out administrative, managerial, and operational functions to support the implementation of government programs and initiatives.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT): ICT refers to the diverse set of technologies used to manage and communicate information. It encompasses hardware, software, networks, and services that enable the processing, transmission, and storage of data.

Integration: Integration in the context of this study refers to the process of incorporating ICT into the operations, processes, and functions of the civil service. It involves the seamless incorporation of ICT tools, systems, and strategies into existing administrative structures and workflows to enhance efficiency, effectiveness, and performance.


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