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INVESTIGATION OF STRATEGIES TO STRENGTHEN E-GOVERNMENT ADOPTION WITHIN PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS IN CAMEROON.

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INVESTIGATION OF STRATEGIES TO STRENGTHEN E-GOVERNMENT ADOPTION WITHIN PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS IN CAMEROON.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the Study

Governments worldwide face the challenge of adapting to transformations and innovating government systems to meet the escalating demands of citizens while delivering services, information, and knowledge efficiently and cost-effectively through information and communication technologies (ICT). Saxena (2020) emphasizes that without effectively leveraging ICT for service delivery and exercising authority, governments cannot achieve their goals in the present era. This assertion is supported by the United Nations E-Government Survey (2016), which highlights how the evolution and diffusion of technology, particularly information and communication technologies (ICTs), have revolutionized people's lifestyles and interactions. Thus A key strategy adopted globally to enhance governance efficiency is the implementation of electronic governance (eGovernance). 

Durumola (2020) defines e-Governance as the use of ICT in public management and service delivery. This definition is echoed by Alhujran (2019), stating that e-Governance involves employing ICT in conducting government business. Awoleye, Oluwaranti, Siyanbola, and Adagunodo (2018) elaborate on e-Governance, noting that it encompasses using ICTs for information exchange among citizens, businesses, and various government branches, including the judiciary, executive, and legislature. Falco and Kleinhans (2018) emphasize that e-Governance facilitates two-way communication protocols utilizing ICT to expedite government service delivery. Moreover, e-Governance involves integrating diverse data and communication transactions, as well as back-office processes and interactions within the entire government structure (Humadi, 2015; Rajiv, Amit, & Arindam, 2017). The adoption of e-Governance by many countries is driven by its perceived ability to enhance public service delivery efficiency and reduce corruption through automation. The primary benefits, as outlined by InfoDev and The Center for Democracy and Technology (2002), include efficiency improvements and corruption reduction potential, which can lead to various national benefits, including narrowing income disparities and promoting tourism.

In the context of Cameroon, there is a noticeable transition towards electronic processes in public administration and local governance (Sindeu, 2013). Aligned with the strategic plan for a digital Cameroon by 2020, the National Development Strategy (NDS30) was adopted in 2020 to guide public action, prioritizing the digitalization of administrations at national and local levels to achieve development objectives and position Cameroon as an emerging economy by 2035. Cameroon has since implemented several e-government initiatives and online services to enhance citizen access to government services and improve administrative efficiency, including initiatives in tax administration, the General Delegation for National Security, and the Ministry of Public Service and Administrative Reform (MINFOPRA). Zainab (2022) highlights the benefits of these initiatives in tax administration, including time savings for citizens, reduced informal transactions, enhanced taxpayer location through digitized street addresses, and improved revenue optimization and tax base expansion.

Vishanth (2019) argues that for the logical implementation of e-government initiatives, alignment with diverse government structures, local cultures, economic conditions, technological resources, citizens' trust, and socio-political factors are necceassary. Shim and Eom (2018) and Kurfalı et al. (2017) advocate for ongoing evaluation of e-government processes to promote good governance, strengthen reform-oriented initiatives, enhance citizen relationships, and facilitate more efficient monitoring and evaluation processes. Although, Kalsi et al. (2019) suggest that digitalization initiatives directly benefit citizens by enabling direct transactions with governmental services, thereby contributing to higher efficiency in public service delivery through the empowerment of civil servants with ICT tools, 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.

1.2 Statement of the problem

Like many other governments in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Cameroonian government has been actively developing its public services to engage more efficiently and effectively with its citizens through electronic channels. Over the past two decades, the role of information and communication technologies (ICT) has expanded rapidly worldwide, with electronic services becoming the benchmark for evaluating government performance in transaction processes. In essence, governments aim to offer citizens easily accessible, accurate, real-time, and high-quality services and information through smart devices, including high-speed wireless internet connections. The vision of e-Government is realized through the implementation of digital solutions that simplify procedures, enhance citizen accessibility, and are supported by policies promoting greater transparency.

Undoubtedly, e-services provided by e-government significantly impact citizens' lives and their interactions with governments. As suggested by Shalewe (2021), the adoption of e-government provides governments with numerous benefits, including cost reduction in service delivery, enhanced operational efficiency, and improved service quality. Conversely, e-government offers citizens opportunities for participation to achieve social, cultural, economic, and political development, as argued by Habib & Farooq (2022). However, in Cameroon, as in other developing countries, citizens encounter significant barriers to accessing public services through e-governance adoption, potentially exacerbating the marginalization of the poor and vulnerable. Consequently, Samila (2023) highlighted that a primary concern in e-government initiatives is to ensure inclusivity and prevent the widening of existing divides in terms of access, equity, and service delivery quality. This is because transitioning from face-to-face to electronic services in the public sector involves more than just technical or organizational changes; it encompasses ethical dimensions of state-citizen interaction, where trust and consent are as important as legal authority.

While some research has been conducted to examine the relationship between citizens’ adoption of e-government and citizens’ trust in e-government, there exist death of empirical evidence on strategies to strengthen e-government adoption within public institutions in Cameroon. Upon this premise, the study is conducted to on investigation of  strategies to strengthen e-government adoption within public institutions in Cameroon.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The broad objectives of this study is on investigation of strategies to strengthen e-government adoption within public institutions in Cameroon. Specifically, the study seeks to:

To examine the extent of e-government adoption within public institutions in Cameroon.

To analyze the impact of e-government adoption within public institutions in Cameroon

To identify strategies for optimizing e-government adoption within public institutions in Cameroon.

1.4 Research Question

What is the extent of e-government adoption within public institutions in Cameroon?

What is the impact of e-government adoption within public institutions in Cameroon?

What are strategies for optimizing e-government adoption within public institutions in Cameroon?

1.5 Research Hypotheses

Ho: There are no strategies for optimizing e-government adoption within public institutions in Cameroon.

Ha: There are strategies for optimizing e-government adoption within public institutions in Cameroon.

1.6 Significance of the Study

From a practical perspective, the findings of this study have significant implications for policymakers, government officials, and other stakeholders involved in the design and implementation of e-government initiatives in Cameroon. By identifying the challenges, opportunities, and best practices associated with e-government platforms, this research can inform evidence-based decision-making and strategic planning processes within government agencies. Moreover, the recommendations generated from this study can help policymakers and practitioners optimize the design, functionality, and usability of e-government platforms to better serve the needs of citizens and enhance transparency and accountability in the public sector. Ultimately, the practical insights derived from this study have the potential to contribute to more effective governance practices and foster greater trust and confidence in government institutions among citizens in Cameroon.

The theoretical significance of this study lies in its contribution to the growing body of literature on e-government and governance practices, particularly within the context of developing countries such as Cameroon. By examining the role of e-government platforms in enhancing transparency and accountability, this research expands our theoretical understanding of how technology can be leveraged to improve public sector governance. The findings of this study will provide valuable insights into the factors that influence the effectiveness of e-government initiatives, including the importance of technological infrastructure, institutional capacity, and citizen engagement. Moreover, by addressing the gap in empirical research on e-government in Cameroon, this study contributes to broader theoretical debates on the relationship between technology adoption and governance outcomes, thus informing future scholarship and policymaking efforts in the field.

1.7 Scope of the Study

The study borders on investigation of strategies to strengthen e-government adoption within public institutions in Cameroon. In content, the study will examine the extent of e-government adoption within public institutions in Cameroon, analyze the impact of e-government adoption within public institutions in Cameroon and identify strategies for optimizing e-government adoption within public institutions in Cameroon.. Geographically, the study will cover  Public Institution within Bamenda Municipal in 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 and limited resources. 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 Public Institution within Bamenda Municipal in Cameroon 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

E-Governance: also known as electronic governance, is the utilization of Information Communication Technology (ICT) inside the government to facilitate and manage various governmental tasks, including the delivery of public services.

Digital transformation: Digital transformation in the context of state administration in Cameroon refers to the systematic integration and utilization of digital technologies, processes, and strategies within government agencies and institutions to enhance the efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency of administrative operations and service delivery. 

Public Service Delivery: Public service delivery refers to the provision of essential services, such as healthcare, education, infrastructure, and social welfare, by government agencies and institutions to citizens and communities. It encompasses the planning, implementation, and monitoring of programs and initiatives aimed at meeting the needs and demands of the public in an efficient, effective, and equitable manner.

Accountability: Public sector entities are accountable for fulfilling their duties and mandates effectively and efficiently. This includes delivering public services, implementing policies, and managing resources in accordance with legal frameworks and ethical standards.


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