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Can Cambodia play e-government leapfrog?

Written By vibykhmer on Sunday, September 13, 2009 | 11:01 PM

14 September 2009
By Robin Hicks
futureGov.net


The government of Cambodia’s long awaited e-government guidelines have provided agencies with a roadmap for how to take their services online as the Kingdom looks to get up to speed with the global ICT sector. There is an opportunity for Cambodia to “leapfrog” other developing countries and avoid past mistakes, Madhav Ragam, Director, Government & Education, Healthcare & Life Sciences at IBM’s Growth Markets Unit told FutureGov.

Cambodia’s National Information Communications Technology Development Agency (NIDA) has stated that the project would build ICT capacity in government and help track progress of government projects. There would also be a focus on information security to ensure that sensitive information was protected from intruders.

“This is a master map for us to walk together in the right direction for all [government and private] institutions to get up to speed with the global ICT sector,” NIDA’s Secretary General Phu Leewood was quoted as saying.

The guidelines were based on a needs analysis conducted by all the key ministries in 2007, with technical assistance from the Japan International Cooperation Agency. They identify areas in which e-government can be used to build the public service competency of government institutions, provide guidelines for collecting data and help establish a blueprint for expanding government services.

Ragam at IBM notes there are three key areas Cambodia needs to focus on as it starts out on its e-government journey: “First, Cambodia needs to improve network connectivity, both in terms of bandwidth and access points,” he said.

“Second, key internal government systems need to be established, including tax collection, integrated financial management across all agencies, licensing applications, and so on. The final stage is to establish a presence for government online.”

Leapfrogging other developing could be possible if good use is made of public-private partnerships, Ragam added, while e-government rankings that take into account use of online services as well as the number of services online would be the best way to chart its success.

Cambodia is ranked among the lowest Asian countries for e-government across a number of surveys, with only Laos and East Timor ranked beneath it in the recent United Nations e-government table. The e-government project has a budget of some US$15 million to connect offices within each province to one another, and another US$20 million to connect each province to the government in Phnom Penh. Three data centers - in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville - will act as hubs for surrounding provinces.

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