Understanding e-Governance for Development

Richard Heeks


New information and communication technologies can make a significant contribution to the achievement of good governance goals. This 'e-governance' can make governance more efficient and more effective, and bring other benefits too. This paper outlines the three main contributions of e-governance: improving government processes (e-administration); connecting citizens (e-citizens and e-services); and building external interactions (e-society). Case studies are used to show that e-governance is a current, not just future, reality for developing countries.

However, most e-governance initiatives fail. Countries therefore face two challenges. First, the strategic challenge of e-readiness: preparing six identified pre-conditions for e-governance. Second, the tactical challenge of closing design-reality gaps: adopting best practice in e-governance projects in order to avoid failure and to achieve success. A vision for change is therefore outlined of which more details are given in a related paper.

View/download options

You will need a PDF reader such as Adobe Acrobat (downloadable from Adobe) to view PDF file(s). PDF files open in a new window.

Educator's guide

Synopsis questions

  1. What is e-governance? [part A]
  2. What benefits can e-governance bring? Illustrate your answer with two or three case examples; preferably not those within the paper. [parts B & C]
  3. What chronological developments are apparent in e-governance? [part C]
  4. What challenges does e-governance face? [part D]
  5. How might such challenges be addressed? [part E]

Development questions

  1. Should we see e-governance as just encompassing Internet-based processes or as encompassing use of all ICTs in governance?
  2. How credible are the case studies presented - do they represent independent, long-term, detailed evaluation or something else?
  3. e-Governance and e-government: what's the difference?
  4. How would this paper differ if it was entitled 'Understanding e-Governance in America'?
  5. Imagine you are contributing to an e-governance initiative. What will it be more important to understand: governance or ICTs?
  6. How might you measure e-readiness in quantitative terms?
  7. Identify other explanations for ICT project success and failure. How do they compare with the model presented in this paper?