Tanzania MPs Torn About Proposed E-Government Bill

John Magufuli
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Tanzania has ought to put its legal environment into electronic operations, through an e-Government Bill, 2019 debated on by Members of parliament.

The Bill seeks to establish the e-Government Authority which will coordinate, oversee and promote electronic government initiatives and enforce policies, regulations, laws, standards, and guidelines related to public institutions. Tabled by the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (Investment), on behalf of the Minister of State in the President’s Office (Public Service Management), MPs deliberated on the motion.

Parliament’s Administration and Local Governments Affairs Committee advised the government to prioritize security in the electronic government saying it is an important aspect of the government system reminding the government to ensure top officials of the authority are people with clean records of working with the government departments and agencies and are patriotic to the national interest.

“Considering the fast pace of development in the information and communication technology, the e-Government Authority should be financially empowered to invest and keep up with the changes,” said one of the committee members.

However, the proposal was met with opposition from some of the MPs present highlighting that ICT is still a challenge in Tanzania faulting the success of the e-government system. While the Bill gives the e-Government Agency power to authorize software and hardware that will be used in the government institution, the opposition said that can be a room for corruption in selecting companies that will supply the software and hardware.

“Reports indicate that Tanzania has low uptake of ICT usage due to the fact that most residents live in rural areas where internet infrastructure is not reliable. The government must consider re-introducing community centres with computer labs where these people can access the internet. We also have some laws that restrict access to information and challenge internet usage. The government must bring those laws for an amendment to enable smooth operation of the e-government in Tanzania,” said Ms. Catherine Ruge who presented the opposition.

The opposition went ahead to suggest the authority should provide specifications only and selection be done by the ICT sections of each institution through a transparent tendering system.

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