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The rise of information and communication technology over the last two decades has given rise to the concept of e-government. It is still an evolving concept and practice. E-government in a narrow sense is the use of information and communication technology by the governments for the delivery of services. In a broader sense it refers to the use of ICTs by the governments: (1) to reform their internal operations and service delivery functions, and (2) to enhance the democratic participation of citizens in policy making and implementation. The latter is also called e-democracy.

E-Government in Africa: prospects, challenges and practices
Man using a computer in an internet cafe
D. Tatlow / Panos Pictures
The enabling role that Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) can play in facilitating and accelerating socio-economic development (ICT4D) is now being recognized by most African governments. A growing number of national and local governments are setting up national ICT policies, putting critical information online, automating administrative processes and interacting with their citizens through online services, yet the great opportunities offered by these new technologies remains largely unexploited.
E-government is distinguished from e-governance. E-governance refers to the use of ICTs not only by the governments but also by other stakeholders in governance such as civil society, political parties and individual politicians in dealing with each other and governments in matters relating to governance. In this sense, e-government is a subset of e-governance.

Governments around the world have invested heavily on e-government. Behind this investment is the strong belief that the use of technology would lead to better government performance, improved quality of democracy and enhanced citizens’ trust in governments. This key issue page gives a brief overview of the developments in the field of e-government, its impact on governance reform and democracy, and its future challenges.

E-government and public sector reforms

Efficiency, accountability, decentralisation of government functions are the main drivers of E-government. However, on evidence the outcomes and success of E-government programmes in reforming public services provide a mixed picture. More...


The impact of ICT-enabled democratic initiatives has been very meagre. Moreover,  initiatives to strengthen democratic processes through using information technology are less prevalent in developing countries. More...

Challenges for E-government

The diffusion of e-government has been slower than expected. Several social, economic and political barriers constrain the scope of transformation and restrict the ability of policy makers to make effective use of new technology. More...