More seriously, the recurring message from these gatherings is the critical need for leadership and coordination in applying technology to the business of government.And, to understand that it is NOT about getting all the right ICT tools, processes and skills in place - it is more about the will to deliver government service efficiently, effectively and ethically.Those "e's" are more important that the electronic one.
I was very impressed with the presentations from South Korea on their path towards e-Government.We all have the impression that their country is fairly high in the technology stakes but they show that it has been a hard slog over a period of twenty years to achieve the level of e-services that they have - and that there is still a long way to go.It certainly helps that 14 million Korean households have broadband access (quote from their policy: "…broadband is an essential utility, like water and electricity…"), but they still needed to go through an extensive analysis of what services can and should be delivered electronically and how people should be educated in the new ways of interacting with their government.
They also had to deal with the inevitable political variations.Although there was strong commitment from the Presidency, changes in the government led to the creation and then the disbanding of the Ministry that was to provide the leadership for the transformation of service delivery.
In comparing the e-readiness of our two countries, the South Koreans noted our very high mobile phone penetration.It is probably this factor that has started the conversations about m-Government becoming the new "e" in South Africa.Two thoughts occur to me - one was a statement made at one of this week's gatherings that only 20% of the population would use e-Government services, which I thought indicated a view that the other 80% would not need to do other than continue to trek to an office and stand in a queue.Bad thinking!The other thought is that our general literacy rate is sinking, especially in the remote areas, and this will challenge the delivery of services by mobile phone.Being able to use a voice service is a long way easier than being able to read and send text messages - abilities that are essential to interacting with government electronically.
So, not only are leadership and coordination essential to the rollout of technology in support of government, so is a much higher standard of basic education than is currently provided to the majority of South Africa's young people.