Electronic governance or e-governance implies running of government with the application of Information Communication Technology (ICT). Hence, Edo State Government is basically moving towards SMART governance.

E-governance is a way of deploying electronic medium or use of technological communication devices, such as computers, phones and the internet to provide public service, and it involves exchange of information among workers, as well as transactions and dealings with the general public.

Global institutions such as the United Nations and the World Bank developed the concept of “Open Governance” for various national governments, which has been adopted to drive governance that incorporates the needs of every segment of the society. In other words, the use of e-governance is apparently to ease transparency, thereby making citizens have unhindered access to government information.

In line with this global trend, the Edo State Government under the leadership of Governor Godwin Obaseki on November 1, 2021 embarked on the e-governance policy to ensures that government is run in a digital manner. Various measures have been put in place, including distribution of laptops, training of workers on the various modules of e-governance, among other things, towards ensuring that it becomes fully consummated in the State.

On Wednesday, July 5, 2023, the Office of the Head of Service, in collaboration with the Information Communication Technology Agency (ICTA), organized a one-day workshop on e-governance, as part of Governor Obaseki-led administration’s initiatives to transform the Civil/Public Service to fit into global best practices to enhance service delivery by Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) of government.

Speaking during the workshop, Governor Obaseki told participants that the workshop was organized to further expose them to the workings and benefits of a digitalized paperless system. The Governor, who was represented by his Deputy, Rt. Hon. Comrade Philip Shaibu, informed participants that the workshop was apt, as it was targeted at exposing participants to how government’s policies and programmes are carried out effectively with the use of technology (e-governance).

“The Edo State e-governance initiative is part of the present administration’s resolve to transform the Civil/Public Service in line with global best practices in order to enhance service delivery by Ministries ,departments and Agencies of Government,” the governor said.

“If the report government is getting is anything to go by, it is expedient to note that employees of Edo State Government are very excited to be exposed to the rudiments of running a digital and paperless government,” he added.

Also speaking, the State Head of Service, Anthony Okungbowa Esq., told the audience that the workshop was expedient to obtain adequate feedbacks on the user experience, create opportunity for critical interrogation of users’ issues, and engage them for the purpose and growth of the public service.

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“You would recall that on the 1st of November, 2021, the Government of Edo State brought the Public Service of Edo State into the e-governance era. Since that time, government has made massive investments in both the physical and soft copy infrastructure of the project, and the result that we have today is that the Public Service of Edo State is the most digitalized Public Service in Nigeria,” Okungbowa said.

“Beyond investing in the Public Service infrastructure in terms of e-governance, indeed government has made the digitization of the Public Service a step towards ensuring the digitization of the entire State. As we speak, there is a running contract that is extending fibre optics across the 18 Local Government Areas of the State. In fact, Edo State is the only State Government that is doing that, and the objective of all of that is to ensure that Edo State becomes the digital hub of Nigeria.

“We all know that governments in Africa, both national and subnational level, are becoming smart governments, and so Edo State must be at the forefront of that, and become the hub of digitization,” he said.

The Head of Service further stated that Governor Obaseki had put measures in place to ensure that the gains of the e-governance programme are not rolled back, and one way to achieve this is that Mr. Governor has proposed a cut-off date for a completely paperless government to be in place on September 1, 2023. This, according to the Head of Service, is the major reason for organizing the workshop.

He told the gathering that the workshop was aimed at meeting three major needs, which include: how feasible the 1st of September is as the deadline of e-governance; challenges/obstacles associated with the e-governance and ways to mitigate these challenges; and, finally, to know the alternative suggestions to give to Mr. Governor because when these objectives are properly consummated and sorted out, they would help Edo State to become the digital hub of Nigeria.

The workshop had in attendance Commissioners, Permanent Secretaries, Heads of extra-ministerial departments and agencies, ICTA team, staff of the Ministry of Digital Economy, Science and Technology, as well as all the edogov champions and change agents in the State.

Topics which were extensively explained during the workshop include E-Governance in Edo State (where we are, outcome, usage of Edo egov), E-governance Implementation, Users Experience, Challenges of E-governance, Challenges, and Feedback sessions on e-gov, among others.

It should be noted that e-governance is not just about websites or emails or financial transactions; it has changed how citizens relate with one another. It also refers to the use of information technology in the country’s democratic process.

As for the transformation of the engine room of government, which is the Civil/Public Service, technology has been successfully leveraged in Edo State, as it is the new order of the world, and also the way to get work done efficiently and effectively.