by Akintunde Agunbiade
The Nigeria E-Government Masterplan (referred to as ‘the Plan’) is a product of the Federal Ministry of Communications & Digital Economy. The Plan defines e-government as a socio-technical system consisting of technical subsystems (electronic) and social subsystems (government), which are interwoven. It also introduces a full-scale plan implementation of e-government, involving 25 initiatives, starting with a presidential committee on ICT/e-government, leading to expanding education for ICT and ICT education, building a dedicated organisation structure for e-government implementation, e-procurement, and e-agriculture.
The Plan was launched in 2019 with no set termination date. However, some of the initiatives mentioned in the Plan have been gradually implemented since before 2019, although most are yet to take off.
Interplay with other laws
The Plan, being a non-legislative instrument, does not affect existing laws. Rather, it proposes the enactment or amendment of some existing laws. The laws are deemed vital to the actualisation of Nigeria’s e-government ambitions. Some of these proposed laws are directly referred to, while others are implied in the body of the Plan. The laws (express and implied) are as follows:
- E-Government Bill
- Cybercrime Act 2015 (amendment)
- Data Protection Bill
- Proposed ICT Promotion Act
- Proposed E-Transaction Act
Stakeholders for Policymaking and Implementation
The Federal Government drives e-government in Nigeria. The Plan mentions those government agencies that are stakeholders in bringing e-government to life. These agencies are divided into policymakers and implementers. The policymakers are as follows:
- Presidential Committee on E-Government;
- Office of the Presidency;
- Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHSCF);
- Federal Ministry of Finance (FMoF);
- Federal Ministry of; Communications & Digital Economy (FMoCDE);
- National Planning Commission (NPC);
- Office of the Secretary of the Government of the Federation (OSGF); and
- Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC).
The policy implementers are:
- Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT);
- Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC);
- Galaxy Backbone (GBB);
- National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA);
- Public Service Institute of Nigeria (PSIN); and
- Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST).
This approach of expressly mentioning the relevant agencies will help accountability and promote a collaborative approach towards implementing e-government initiatives. However, the agencies mentioned above are not a complete representation of all the stakeholders in the Nigerian e-government value chain. Other players will be relevant, as some of the initiatives in the Plan fall within their domain, or they have initiated projects that are ancillary to e-government, even though they are not expressly listed. Some of them are:
- Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS);
- Federal/State Ministries of Education (F/SME);
- Federal Ministry of Health (FMH);
- National Agency for Food & Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC);
- National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC);
- Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); and
- Proposed Data Protection Commission (DPC).
Earlier, it was stated that the Plan offers 25 initiatives to implement e-government in Nigeria. However, some initiatives are more important than others. Therefore, the Plan further draws out six of those initiatives as high priority because they are fundamental, and failure to put them in place will either affect or prevent the implementation of the other 19 initiatives. Those six key initiatives are as follows:
- Establish Presidential Committee on ICT/E-Government;
- Develop capacity-building program;
- Create and utilise e-government promotion fund;
- Laws necessary for e-government;
- Establish Standard Software Framework for e-Government; and
- Implement e-Procurement
Presidential Committee: This Committee consists of stakeholders from the public and private sectors. It is expected to accommodate ordinary citizens, legal experts, IT experts, and industry leaders. The Committee is to liaise with the executive and legislative arms of government to pass the e-Government bill into law and collaborate with the ICT Committees in the National Assembly and the FMoCDE in policy development and implementation. It is currently headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha.
Capacity-building: This initiative is focused on developing capacity in both civil servants and citizens in readiness for e-government. The target is to train every Nigerian, mobilise tools for capacity building and develop Public-Private Partnership (PPP) for offering e-government training programs.
E-Government Promotion Fund: This initiative recognises the need for funds to implement e-government projects. It recommends that the government allocate funds for e-government projects by introducing a fiscal policy that gives revenue and private sector income to contribute to e-government development. The FG is expected to dedicate 1% of the national budget to an Information Promotion Fund under the appropriate ministry as the implementing agency, whilst it will be allocated to each ministry to ensure cross-agency integration and linkage.
Laws for e-Government: One approach to developing a legal framework for e-government is introducing an omnibus e-government law that touches on all aspects of e-governance, like the e-Government Bill. The Plan also makes mention of a Cybersecurity and Cybercrimes Act. Because there is already a Cybercrimes Act in force since 2015, the Plan may be referring to the ongoing move to amend and update the Cybercrimes Act. In addition, the Plan refers to data protection as one of the components of e-governance. Therefore, although no reference is made to it, the Data Protection Bill before the National Assembly will also be relevant.
Standard Software Framework: The objective is to introduce a standard software development platform for all government service applications. The Plan defines a standard software framework as a special case of software libraries that are reusable abstractions of code in a well-defined API (Application Programming Interface). The Plan recommends that the structure of the standard software framework should consist of four environments (runtime, operation, development, and management) and 230 common components. The operating model is to be designed in detail. The standard software framework is also expected to catalyse local content development. In this respect, the Nigerian Local Content Development and Enforcement Commission Bill 2020 will be relevant.
e-Procurement: This initiative aims to improve the procurement process’s efficiency, transparency, and accessibility. The envisioned e-procurement system will cover the relevant procedures sequentially, starting from supplier registration, an invitation for e-bid, e-bidding, bid opening, e-contract, project performance, and e-payment.
Impact and Suggested Action Plans
Overall, if implemented, the Plan provides multiple local content opportunities in software development and capacity building. It also promises a more transparent bidding process. However, to ensure the delivery of its benefits, there is a need for concerted effort to ensure the passage of the e-government bill by the National Assembly. If passed and signed into law, it will provide the legal backbone to many of the initiatives in the Plan, giving them the force of law rather than their current status as recommendations.
The Plan should incorporate more government agencies as stakeholders and other bills before the National Assembly as vital for the actualisation of e-government in Nigeria.