UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
This document is a consolidation and analysis of country reports produced by correspondents in each of the countries surveyed. The country correspondents carried out the basic research, conducted interviews and carried out policy document searches in the process of gathering material for their reports. Their contribution to this report is hereby acknowledged. It goes without saying that without their reports this document would not have been possible.
The country correspondents were as follows:
EthiopiaMr. Teferi Kebede
KenyaMr. George Okado
NigeriaDr. G.A. Alabi
TanzaniaMr. Howard Shila
ZimbabweMrs. Hazel Moyo
The titles of their papers are given in the references. It is difficult to do justice to their findings when consolidating them into one document.
Special thanks are directed to IRDC for their financial support through ECA/PADIS and to the latter for its guiding role. Mr. Peter Browne, formerly of IRDC deserves special thanks as he was the originator of the project.
I am grateful to Nancy Hafkin, Acting Head of PADIS, to whom I have given such a hard time by delaying to write this report through illness.
I have had suggestions to improve this report from a
number of my colleagues. I am grateful to them, and
to colleagues who worked tirelessly in its preparation,
and to my family for their support during difficult
This document presents the findings of a project to "Study the Effectiveness of Informatics Policy Instruments in Selected African Countries". Among English speaking African countries the countries surveyed were Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
An informatics policy is a plan for the development and optimal utilisation of information technology, data resources and services. International and/or intergovernmental aid agencies have, over the years, initiated and/or supported workshops and other fora intended to sensitize governments to the importance of formulating and implementing integrated policies in informatics. There are numerous written reports on such efforts. Despite all this activity no country can point to a single comprehensive national informatics policy; only to a set of fragmented laws, regulations, decrees, codes of conduct and standards, each dealing with a different aspect of information handling. UNESCO, in support of these efforts, went further and produced a number of handbooks on the formulation, implementation and operation of national policies on information. Due to the combined efforts of these agencies and the heightened awareness of African governments to the potential benefits of informatics in national development one could legitimately expect a consequent increase in the level of informatics policy activity in the countries of Africa. Once the policies are in place it becomes necessary to analyzes them and to assess the extent to which they achieved their objectives.
1.2OBJECTIVES OF THE PROJECT
This project is designed to survey the policies implemented in the target countries and to assess their effectiveness. The specific objectives of the projects were as follows:
(i)To carry out a survey of national informatics policies and policy instruments which have been implemented in the above countries and to identify the organisations responsible for their formulation, implementation and/or review.
(ii)To investigate the effectiveness of the identified policies and policy instruments, and to determine the extent to which they achieved their objectives.
(iii)To produce country reports giving an account of the results of the survey.
The successful implementation of national informatics policies requires the existence or the establishment of effective national informatics infrastructure. Policies cannot be implemented effectively without adequate skilled manpower, supportive facilities and appropriate financial provisions. Therefore, for the successful implementation of national policies the following activities should be undertaken (Montvilloff, 1990):
(i)The development of informatics resources and services including the generation and collection of information, development manpower resources and the establishment of infrastructural facilities.
(ii)The provision of access to information and its effective dissemination to those who need it.
(iii)The promotion of the effective use of information including the training of users in seeking and using accurate and timely data in the conduct of their businesses, and raising their perception to the value of information in decisionmaking.
(iv)The development and coordination of national data banks and other information activities including decision support systems and the establishment of machinery for their ongoing evaluation.
(v)The participation in international information activities including global data networks and in such multinational issues such as transborder data flow, information resourcesharing networks etc.
(vi)The establishment of institutions for the management of technology transfer and the adoption and adapting of the latest development in informatics.
1.3METHODOLOGY OF THE PROJECT
The country surveys were carried out by country correspondents tasked with implementing the project in their own countries. The reports of the country correspondents were submitted to and consolidated by project coordinators. The project has two coordinators, one for English and the other for French speaking African countries. Each correspondent was expected to:
(i)Identify policies and/or instruments implemented
in their own country as well as identifying the responsible
organisations. Identify sources of and seek access
to policy documents.
(ii)Identify officials to interview in the implementing organisations and in other public sector and/or private sector institutions with direct interest in the policy or policies. Interview the identified people with a view to eliciting their evaluations on the success or failure of the policies or instruments.
(iii)Produce country reports on the survey. These reports are to be submitted to the coordinators who in turn will produce one report summarizing and consolidating the results of the survey from the selected countries.
1.4STRATEGY OF ANALYSIS OF COUNTRY REPORTS
Each country paper was analyzed to extract information on policies, whether sectoral or not. The results were compiled by sector to make it easier to compare the developments in the countries surveyed.
Of particular interest is whether the surveyed countries prioritize the same sectors, in view of different socioeconomic factors operating within their borders.
Clearly any difference in emphasis could lead to different approaches in the development of policies. The influence of such factors as indigenous cultures, norms and beliefs, and economic systems on the process of policy formulation and sustained operation of those policies cannot be overemphasized. (Dosa, Marta 1990).
African countries are going through political and economic changes designed to radically alter the operations of their economics. Many of the countries have adopted economic structural adjustments programmes which have opened their economies to external and internal competitive market forces. These adjustment programmes have been characterised by a relaxation of the foreign exchange regime making it possible for users of IT to import such technology with few, if any, restrictions. The implication of these changes is that overnight, policies to regulate the procurement of computers and other IT products have become redundant, since such regulatory practices are contrary to the spirit of a liberalized economic environment.
Thus economic structural adjustment programmes being implemented in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia should have a profound impact on the IT industries, These developments amply illustrate the fact that informatics policies and regulations can quickly become obsolete. There is therefore a need to continually review them to take advantage of new opportunities. Unfortunately the process of modifying policies is often slow and legalistic as it involves both wide and lengthy consultation and impact studies which take time.
Marta Dosa (Dosa, 1990) makes the point that "Information problems in need of policy decisions typically are products of a society and may not be explained without an understanding of local situations". This stresses the importance of taking the socioeconomic environment into account when planning, and implementing policies as well as when analyzing them.
Each country study collected information on laws, regulations, and/or procedures applicable in certain sectors as well as on professional instruments such as codes of conduct, professional ethics etc. from professional associations. Some of the countries have recognised the importance of integrating policies on IT with those on science and technology (S & T). Therefore this document will report on S & T policies where these feature in the country papers.
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