Sunday, November 05, 2006

E-govt in Delta State and tackling corruption..

The first successful implementation of e-govt in Nigeria has been Delta State, which has now fully implemented SAP. Click here for a bit more info. I happen to know that nothing was happening on the project a couple of years ago, thanks to the training being local. When SAP offered foreign training in South Africa (and the obligatory Sun City excursion), the project picked up speed, surprise surprise.

It sounds like a cynical comment, but its meant to be realistic. One of the few perks of being a lowly-paid civil servant in Nigeria is the opportunity to travel and earn vital esta-code (senior civil servants make US$400 per day on these trips). I've come to learn that to gather enthusiasm for a change initiative in Nigeria, you have to throw in foreign 'training', otherwise you won't be taken seriously. The only alternative strategy is strong and non-corrupt leadership - but that is too scarce a resource to rely on..

The underlying point is this - for development initiatives to work in endemically corrupt public administration systems such as Nigeria, you need an honest appraisal of how the benefits to the as-is system are currently distributed. The to-be intervention needs to address this benefit-system, and offer some kind of redress, otherwise the project will simply fail.

This is the nub of what makes change initiatives in corrupt administrations fiendishly difficult. Corruption and graft is unstated - information distributed on a need-to-know basis. How therefore to complete the first stage as-is mapping exercise, when no one will talk about it?


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