Analyzing Challenges and Opportunities of the Implementation of e-Government Initiatives for

Analyzing Challenges and Opportunities of the Implementation of e-Government Initiatives for
Analyzing Challenges and Opportunities of
the Implementation of e-Government Initiatives for
Development through the Lens of the Capability Approach:
Case Studies from Mozambique
Gertrudes Adolfo Macueve
Submitted as partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph. D)
Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
Department of Informatics
University of Oslo
August 14, 2008
To my parents, Deolinda Noé and Adolfo A. Macueve
PREFACE ................................................................................................................................................ i
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ................................................................................................................. iii
ABSTRACT ........................................................................................................................................... v
Chapter 1- Introduction ............................................................................................................... - 1 1.1.
E-government for Development ....................................................................................................... - 1 -
Research Motivation ............................................................................................................................ - 3 -
Positioning my Study within e-Government Discourses......................................................... - 4 -
Research Questions and Objectives ................................................................................................ - 7 -
Theoretical Basis ................................................................................................................................... - 7 -
Research Approach ............................................................................................................................... - 8 -
Expected Contributions ....................................................................................................................... - 8 -
Structure of the Thesis ......................................................................................................................... - 9 -
Chapter 2 - Empirical Setting: The Context of Mozambique .......................................... - 11 2.1.
Introduction .......................................................................................................................................... - 11 -
Geographic and Demographic Profile......................................................................................... - 11 -
Geographic Profile ......................................................................................................................... - 11 -
Demographic Profile ..................................................................................................................... - 13 -
Socio-historical, Political and Economic Context .................................................................. - 14 -
Post-Independence Period ........................................................................................................... - 14 -
Post-Civil War Period ................................................................................................................... - 16 -
Economic Indicators...................................................................................................................... - 16 -
Health and Education Indicators ............................................................................................... - 17 -
National Poverty Reduction Strategy .......................................................................................... - 19 -
ICTs in Mozambique ........................................................................................................................ - 20 -
Coverage of ICT Services in Mozambique ............................................................................ - 20 -
ICTs and related Human Resources ......................................................................................... - 23 -
ICT Policy and Strategies ............................................................................................................ - 24 -
E-government in Mozambique ...................................................................................................... - 25 -
E-SISTAFE ...................................................................................................................................... - 26 -
E-Land Registry and Land Management Information Systems (LMIS)....................... - 28 -
Summary ............................................................................................................................................... - 32 -
Chapter 3 - Literature Review and Conceptual Framework ............................................ - 33 3.1.
Introduction ...........................................................................................................................................- 33 -
Development and the Dominant Economic Framework: A Historical Overview ........- 33 -
Sen’s Concept of Development: The Capability Approach .................................................- 35 -
Key Concepts of the Capability Approach ............................................................................. - 36 -
Strengths and Criticisms of the Capability Approach ......................................................... - 40 -
3.4. The e-Government for Development Relation: An Analysis based on Common
Discussions..........................................................................................................................................................- 43 3.5.
Previous Application of the Capability Approach in Information Systems Research - 46 -
3.6. Proposed Building Blocks for the e-Government for Development Conceptual
Framework ..........................................................................................................................................................- 49 3.6.1
E-government as Socio-technical Network ............................................................................ - 49 -
Literacy .............................................................................................................................................. - 53 -
Learning inter-projects .................................................................................................................. - 55 -
Structures – Formulated Rules ................................................................................................... - 57 -
Proposed Conceptual Framework..................................................................................................- 58 -
Chapter 4 - Research Perspectives .......................................................................................... - 67 4.1
Introduction ...........................................................................................................................................- 67 -
Epistemological Perspective............................................................................................................- 67 -
Methodological Perspective ............................................................................................................- 68 -
Research Design and Methods ................................................................................................... - 69 -
Data Collection Techniques ........................................................................................................ - 74 -
Modes of Data Analysis ............................................................................................................... - 80 -
Chapter 5 – Research Findings ................................................................................................ - 83 5.1
Research Articles Included in the Thesis ....................................................................................- 83 -
Summary of Research Findings .....................................................................................................- 91 -
Linking the Capability Approach and the Research Findings .............................................- 95 -
Chapter 6 – Contributions and Conclusions ...................................................................... - 101 6.1
Introduction ........................................................................................................................................ - 101 -
Contributions ..................................................................................................................................... - 101 -
Theoretical Contributions.......................................................................................................... - 102 -
Practical Contributions............................................................................................................... - 106 -
Conclusions ........................................................................................................................................ - 110 -
REFERENCES ......................................................................................................................... - 112 -
APPENDIXES ........................................................................................................................... - 128 -
This thesis is submitted as a partial fulfilment of the requirements for the
degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural
Sciences, Department of Informatics, University of Oslo, Norway. The funding for
this work has been provided by the Norwegian Education Loan Fund (Lånekassen)
who sponsored my subsistence allowances in Norway and field travel costs to
Mozambique and, by the Health Information Systems Programme (HISP) who
sponsored my fieldwork and participation in conferences.
This thesis consists of 7 articles as well as an extended summary. The articles
included as appendixes are listed as follows:
1. Macome, E. and Macueve, G. (2007) E-government for Mozambique:
Challenges and Opportunities. In Mishra, S. and Mukherjee, A. (Eds.) Egovernance in Developing Nations. Hyderabad, The Icfai University Press:
2. Macueve, G. (2008) E-government for Development: A Case Study from
Mozambique. African Journal of Information Systems, 1 (1): 1-17.
3. Macueve, G. (Forthcoming) E-government Implementation in Mozambique:
Transferring Lessons across the Public Sector. South African Computer
4. Macueve, G. and Macome, E. (2007) Conceptualization of e-Government as
an Information Infrastructure: A Case Study from Mozambique. In
Cunningham, P. and Cunningham, M. (Eds.) IST Africa 2007 Conference and
Exhibition. Maputo, 9-11th May 2007.
5. Macueve, G. (2007) The Problem of Literacy in e-Government
Implementation for Development: A Case Study of e-Land Management
Information System in Mozambique. In Cunningham, P. and Cunningham, M.
(Eds.) e-Challenges Conference and Exhibition World Convention Centre. The
Hague, Holland, 24-26th October 2007:411-419.
6. Macueve, G. (Forthcoming) Assessment of the Outcomes of e-Government
for Good Governance: A Case of Land Management Information System in
Mozambique. International Journal of Electronic Governance.
7. Macueve, G. (2006) A Structurational Analysis of the process of eGovernment Implementation: A case Study from Mozambique. In Remeny,
D. (Ed.) 2nd International Conference on e-Government. University of
Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, 12-13th October 2006.
First and foremost, I would like to say thank you very much, to my first supervisor, Sundeep Sahay
for providing me guidance, support, criticism and for patiently reading my English- Portuguese
manuscripts. This dissertation would not have been possible without his enduring professional
I would like also to say thanks to my second supervisor, Esselina Macome for the encouragement,
contributions, criticism and positive interventions in the field, both in the data collection process
and in the decisions of the continuation of my studies.
In this journey, I won not only this final product but also a unique and true friend, Faraja, to whom I
would like to express my profound gratitude, first as a distinct colleague and second as a sister.
Since 2004, she shared with me most part of this journey including the hassles and good moments.
Thank you, Faraja for being the “first reader” of my manuscripts during this journey. This space is
very small to express my gratitude to you.
Thanks Lungo, for the camaraderie, collaboration and encouragement.
I use also this opportunity to say thanks to Francisco Vieira, Jens Kaasbøll and Amália Uamusse for
the encouragement and for intervening positively in my department at home in the decision of the
continuation of my studies.
I would like to address my gratitude to all the people who made the data collection possible by
providing me permission and support to conduct my research in their organizations, namely Mr.
Carlos Jessen, Jacinto Muchine, Elias Mucombo, Eng. Dique, and Lourino Chemane. The gratitude is
extended to include my interviewees (names not mentioned) who wonderfully contributed in my
data collection.
I would like also to say thanks to HISP, especially to Jørn Braa. This piece of work is possible today
because you initiated HISP which provides opportunities for Ph.D dreams to come true. To the
Mozambican team, I want to say thank you to my fellows Baltazar Chilundo, Emilio Mosse,
Humberto Muquingue, João Mavimbe, José Nhampossa, Zeferino Saugene for the encouragement.
Thanks guys, its nice to have brothers in the Ph.D.
Judith Gregory, I really missed you. You moved from Oslo at the very earlier stages of this journey.
But, I know that wherever you are, you are crossing fingers for the three of us.
Many thanks also for Christina Mörtberg for the encouragement.
In England, I want to say thanks to Perveez and family for the support in the oddest moments of my
life in London. Thanks Alan and Kate for the support, I will not forget the good moments you
provided me in London. Thanks Mary Bodden and son, Luke for the shelter. At London School of
Economics (LSE), I would like to say thanks to Shirin Madon and Tony Cornford for allowing me to
attend your courses and for the advices. Being at LSE was extremely important in framing this
Thanks IFI fellows and Ph.D candidates for the useful discussions and friendship. This is specially
addressed to Maya Van Der Velden, Jyotsna Sahay, Violeta Sun, Jennifer Blencher, Miria Grisot,
Shegaw Megiste, Peter Øgland, Knut Starring, Solomon Bishaw, Johan Saebø, Endre Grøtnes and
Nigusse Mengesha. For the faculty members, Margunn Aanestad and Ole Hanseth thanks for the
Thanks Tim Waema for the encouragement and last comments on my thesis.
Thanks to the opponents of my trial defence, Bendik Bygstad and Gianluca Miscione for helping me
to enrich my thesis with constructive comments and criticism. This acknowledgement is extended
to Subhash Bhatnagar, Pirjo Elovaara and Tone Bratteteig who accepted to be part of the committee
of this thesis.
I would like also to say thanks to the Norwegian government, specially the Quota Programme that
sponsored my studies and staying in Oslo. Also, I would like to say thanks for the very professional
administrative collaboration from the International Student Office, Michele Nysaeter, Lynn
Josephson and Karen Johansen, and from IFI, Anne Catherine and Lena Korsnes. You are amazing
Thanks to my friends Amélia Halvorsen and the daughter (Xiluva Halvorsen), Anastácia Gonçalves,
Judite Mandlate, Lúcia Ginger, Luzia Gundana and Rossana Carimo for the companionship,
encouragement and support.
Special thanks are addressed to Artur Sitoe for the companionship and encouragement during my
Ph.D studies.
For the last and not the least, to my family, specially, mom and dad, my sister, my brothers, sistersin-law, my nieces (Lesley Macueve and Shirley Macueve), and my nephew (Chélsio Ordela), thanks
for the love, understanding, caring, support, patience and belief you have provided to me. Surely, I
will compensate the time I have been away from you.
God, thanks for the life opportunity.
Gertrudes Macueve
University of Oslo, Norway
E-government applications are being implemented in various developing countries
under the promise of accelerating development processes. The initiatives are driven
by the promised power of ICTs, which governments try to draw upon to modernize
their functioning and to offer better services to the citizens. Further, these initiatives
tend to be driven by the policies of international donor agencies that often impose
such initiatives as a condition for aid. In this thesis, it is argued that these initiatives
tend to be implemented within an economic development perspective that tends to
marginalize concerns of the human well-being. The capability approach drawn from
the works of Amartya Sen, which emphasizes the moral side of development and the
enhancement of human capabilities, is seen as a useful means to try and redress this
This thesis presents an in-depth theoretically informed and empirically based study of
e-government initiatives undertaken in Mozambique. Theoretically, the aim is to
understand the development philosophy inscribed in the studied e-government
initiatives and how they seek to meet broader developmental concerns as articulated
by Sen’s capability approach. The theoretical aim is to analyze the relation between egovernment and development, which provides an important contribution to the
domain of studies relating to ICT for development. Empirically, this relation between
ICT and development is analyzed within the context of the broader strategy in
Mozambique of public sector reform and development, and three particular egovernment projects currently ongoing are studied. The three projects studied
included: the electronic Land Management Information System, the State Financial
Management Information System and the Government Network.
Theoretically, the conceptual framework provided by the capability approach was
developed based on the following concepts: Socio-technical networks, Literacy, inter
project Learning and Structures of formulated rules. These concepts have an intrinsic
value in understanding the relationship between e-government for development.
While the socio-technical perspective helps us to understand that e-government is not
purely a technical network of artefacts, the concepts of structures and learning
complement this understanding by elaborating on key social elements that constitute
e-government and shape desired development goals. Literacy helps to build and use egovernment in a holistic sense, having constituted and constituting properties.
Formulated rules provide the enabling (and constraining) conditions that shape the
development and use of e-government applications.
The research questions guiding this study were: 1) What is the process and underlying
principles that drives the implementation of e-government initiatives in developing
countries? 2) What are the major theoretical buildings blocks that can help to theorize
the complex relation between e-government and development? Epistemologically, the
research was conducted applying an interpretive research approach. The study was
conducted in three provinces of Mozambique and took place during the period
between 2005 and 2007. Empirical data was collected from 123 individual interviews
and observations as primary data collection sources.
The thesis is structured as a set of articles including 1 book chapter, 3 conference
articles, and 3 international and peer reviewed journal articles. The following were the
key findings from these publications:
1. E-government implementation for development is a complex context based
process shaped by international agendas such as of new public management,
and national agendas such as the poverty alleviation strategies and public
sector reforms.
2. E-government is best conceptualized as a heterogeneous socio-technical
networked Information Infrastructure, and is not just a technical artefact.
3. Literacy, inter-project learning and the use of local knowledge shape the
achievement of opportunities, functionings and freedoms inscribed in egovernment implementation initiatives.
4. E-government implementation for development is inherently a social process
where new structures in general and formulated rules in particular are enacted
to ensure the meeting of development goals.
Theoretically, this thesis contributes to the development of an analytical framework
based on the capability approach to help understand the relationship between egovernment and development in order to enhance capabilities and opportunities that
people need for their well-being. Practically, to make the relationship e-government
and development practically more effective, this thesis proposes mechanisms for
developing e-government through the understanding of the perspective of sociotechnical networks; broadening our conceptualization of literacy in the e-government
context; proposing mechanisms for increasing inter-project learning; valuing the
participation of community members, and enhancing the use of indigenous knowledge
in the implementation of e-government applications. This thesis contributes further to
the evaluation of e-government for development initiatives based on ends and
processes of development. The processes inform how to reach development while
ends are the products that represent development goals.
V{tÑàxÜ D
Chapter 1- Introduction
E-government for Development
This thesis is concerned with understanding how e-government implementation
can support poverty alleviation and a country’s socio-economic development.
Specifically, the study tries to link the potential of e-government applications with the
enhancement of human well-being. The study is empirically based on a research
conducted in Mozambique and theoretically based on Sen’s (1984, 1987a, 1987b, 1993,
1999) ‘capability approach’. This study is relevant in a developing country context
where e-government is being widely advocated as a tool for development, and yet its
contribution to alleviating development problems seems largely unrealized (Heeks and
Kenny 2002; Wade 2002; Avgerou 2003).
The term ‘electronic government’ or ‘e-government’ focuses on the use of new
Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) by governments as applied to
support the full range of their functioning. ICTs are means for communicating,
collecting, storing, processing, disseminating information and are potentially inscribed
with characteristics of speed, accuracy and reliability related to information handling
(Hammer 1990). There is a belief that ICTs are capable of contributing to organizational
efficiencies, rational decision-making (Kenny and Morton 1978; Sprague 1980; De
Sanctis and Gallupe 1987), productivity (Landauer 1996), and enabling developing
countries to compete on a more equal basis in the world market (World Trade
Organization 1998; United Nations 2000).
In particular, with the networking potential offered by the Internet and related
technologies, there is belief that ICTs can radically change relationships among
government, citizens and businesses by reconfiguring flows and also the content of
information defining these relationships (Heeks 1999, 2001, 2004; Lal 1999;
Wolfensohn 2001; Ciborra 2003). Governments around the world are enthusiastically
embracing e-government, based on a conviction that ICTs can transform government’s
often existing negative image by improving efficiencies (Pacific Council International
Policy 2002).
The current optimism over the potential of ICTs in the context of e-government goes
further, in the way that it is believed that they can promote development and help
alleviating poverty (UNDP1 2001). The DOTForce2 (2002) report states as follows:
“ICTs offer enormous opportunities to narrow social and economic
inequalities and support sustainable local wealth creation, and thus help to
achieve the broader development goals that the international community
has set.” (pag.3)
Arguments such as above are leading different institutions and governments to focus
their primary attention on the use of ICTs in the fight against poverty, often limited to
issues of enhancing Internet access (Panos 1998, pag.1). The government of
Mozambique is not an exception to this phenomenon, as exemplified in the following
quote from the Primer Minister:
“…my country has recently adopted its national ICT policy, because we
clearly see that ICTs have become an indispensable lever for a country’s
development. In today’s world, it is the ability to efficiently and effectively
use ICTs that plays an increasingly important role for a country’s relevance
and competitiveness in the global economy.” (His Excellency Dr. Pascoal
Mocumbi – Primer Minister of Mozambique, Italy, April 11, 2002)
Specifically, the adoption of e-government, for many is linked to the idea of good
governance, which in turn is seen as a condition for sustainable development, economic
growth and poverty alleviation (Government of Italy and United Nations 2002). Better
accountability and improved transparency are seen as the characteristics of good
governance and becomes the conditio sine qua non for rich states and international
agencies to supply aid to developing countries (Ciborra 2003). Therefore, in current
times the purpose of many aid policies is to support the introduction of e-government
into developing countries. However, despite this push, empirical research has not
conclusively established a positive relation between the use of ICTs and poverty
alleviation (Wang 1999; Eggleston et al. 2002; Heeks and Kenny 2002; Wade 2002;
Avgerou 2003; Odebra-Straub 2003; Paré 2003; Madon 2004; Thompson 2004).
United Nations Development Programme
Digital Opportunity Task Force
Given the existence of this ambiguous and complex relationship between e-government
in particular and development, this study explores this relationship using the
development approach articulated by Sen (1999) also known as the ‘Capability
Approach’. Sen’s approach to development has had significant policy impact in the
UNDP and World Bank (Gasper 2002) and enables one to evaluate the bundle of
options (or commodities) available to individuals in relation to their alternatives to lead
a preferred kind of life. Therefore, evaluating what benefits, means and ends egovernment can offer for development, involves fundamentally theorizing the
relationship between e-government and development.
Research Motivation
Mozambique is one of the poorest countries in sub-Saharan Africa and in the
world, with a GNP3 per capita being $310 in 2005, with 29% of the people living below
$1 a day, a life expectancy of 43 years and a 45% literacy rate. The vast majority of the
population lives in rural areas and depends on subsistence farming, with the agricultural
sector representing around 20% of total GDP4. Geographically the country exhibits
substantial differences in welfare and economic development, with a high concentration
of economic activities in and around the capital city of Maputo and some provincial
capitals. The country has been affected in the last 3 decades with several natural hazards
such as severe draughts and floods, which have had adverse repercussions on the
country’s economic and social development. Additionally, there have been human made
challenges arising from colonial rule and civil war. Within this complex historical
context, examining the relation between ICTs and development is indeed a deep
research challenge. Like in many developing countries, poverty reduction in
Mozambique is the first and foremost policy goal. However, it is not a straightforward
task, as it involves many inter related facets, including that of e-government for
development which constitutes the focus of this study. Theoretically, the concept of
development in e-government has often been taken for granted (Zheng 2007), primarily
concerned with technical issues of systems development (De 2006), and being equated
with economic development (Avgerou 2003; Madon 2004). Furthermore, even less is
discussed about the moral implications as inscribed in Sen’s view of development.
Gross National Product
Gross Domestic Product
Based on my background in Computer Sciences and Information Systems (IS), where IS
are argued to be conceptualized as social systems (Walsham et al. 1988; Land 1992), I
theoretically seek to understand the relation between e-government and development
and how this can also practically contribute to make e-government implementation
efforts more effective in broader terms.
Also, this study aims to respond to the call in IS research by Walsham and Sahay (2006)
who advocate the need to explore the meaning of development in relation to ICTs. They
suggest the use of the concept of development from Sen (1999) as a possible
philosophical lens for exploring the meaning of development and how ICTs can
contribute to making a better world as a moral obligation.
Positioning my Study within e-Government Discourses
E-government has become a subject for debate among politicians, donors,
scholars and practitioners. The nature of e-government discourses follows various
trends, which include technical, political, socio-economic, theoretical and sometimes
combined perspectives. Technical discourses tend to stress aspects of software,
hardware, connectivity, access, communications and e-government technical models
(Gil-García and Pardo 2005; Signore et al. 2005; Odebra-Straub 2003). Political
discourses stress, for example, on e-government visions and policies (Cecchini and
Raina 2004; Signore et al. 2005; Gil-García and Pardo 2005). Discussions on the
process of implementation of e-government projects in developing countries often
emphasize on specific socio-economic discourses of e-government (Backus 2001; Allen
et al. 2001; Okot-Uma 2005; OECD5 2003). Many related studies have pointed out the
limited success in developing countries with respect to e-government applications
(Avgerou and Walsham 2000; Heeks 2003), and realizing practical benefits on the
ground. Therefore, there are various ongoing debates on the reasons for failure and the
development of roadmaps (or guidelines) for success (Gartner Group 2000; Pacific
Council on International Policy 2002; Heeks 2003; UNDESA6 2003). Research suggests
that e-government initiatives in developing countries fail in 60% (UNDESA 2003) of
the projects and only 15% of them can be described to be a complete success (Heeks
Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development
United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs
2003). It has been argued by many researchers that in order to succeed, these countries
should follow various prescriptions (Pacific Council on International Policy 2002;
Heeks 2003; Okot-Uma 2005), such as defining a clear vision and strategies of egovernment within a country, selecting carefully the respective projects, strengthening
political will, improving infrastructure and creating ICT culture and awareness.
Another trend concerns the theorization of e-government: the use of theoretical and
philosophical lenses to understand the phenomena of e-government. Actor Network
Theory (ANT), Information Infrastructure, Structuration and Institutional theory and
currently, Development theories are some of those being used by researchers to theorize
e-government. For example, Fountain (2001) and Yang (2003) have explored the
relationship between e-government and institutions using Institutional theory arguing
that the evolution of e-government represents a process of institutionalization.
Government transformation through e-government is a complex process that depends
heavily on the concerned institutions, and is dependent on peoples’ visions, beliefs, and
action, not only on formal or official authorizations for transformation (Yang 2003). For
Fountain (2001), e-government success depends on the what she called, ‘stability’ and
‘resistance’ of institutions, meaning that the mere presence of technology would not
necessarily bring about change in governance, and building a virtual state is about the
process and politics of institutional change rather than a set of predictions about the end
results (pag. 203-204).
ANT and Information Infrastructure was recently used to analyze e-government by
Navarra (2006) and Stanforth (2007). ANT is an interdisciplinary approach to social
sciences and technology studies, and can be seen as an appropriate lens for egovernment analysis, given the heterogeneous, socio–technical and multidisciplinary
characteristics of such applications. ANT can be used to conceptually untangle the
socio-technical processes involved, related to the development, introduction, use and
consequences of e-government related initiatives (Monteiro 2000). In particular, ANT
makes us sensitive to aspects of translation (Callon 1986), inscription, and black-boxing
as social action and technical agency intermingle during the growth and stabilization (or
not) of any information infrastructure (Monteiro 2000). Further, it sensitises us to the
need for the heterogeneous resources needed (e.g. public opinions, role assignments,
management support, expertise, work effort, contracts, budgets, standards, accepted
work routines, software, technical devices) which have to be co-ordinated to get an egovernment system eventually up and running effectively (Klischewski 2000, 2001).
With current international discourses focusing on development, another e-government
theorization has emerged – ‘e-government for development’, in the context of
developing countries (Bhatnagar 2002; Heeks 2003; Avgerou et al. 2005). Sen’s
capability approach has been seen by various researchers as an appropriate theoretical
lens to guide the analysis of the relationship between e-government and development
(Madon 2004; De 2006; Zheng 2005, 2007). This approach has been complemented by
other avenues to evaluate e-government based on social indicators (Bhatnagar 2002;
OECD7 2003; Madon 2004) such as the Millennium Development Goals (Bhatnagar
2002). Various empirical studies have been carried out within this paradigm, especially
based in Africa and Asia (Krishna and Walsham 2005; Zheng 2007; Byrne and Sahay
2007). Therefore, this thesis contributes to this body of research, specifically through an
empirical analysis of the e-government and development relationship in the context of
particular applications in Mozambique.
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
Research Questions and Objectives
The underlying assumption informing this research is that e-government can
contribute to development if its emphasis is on offering opportunities for individuals to
effectively improve their well-being. This assumption has led to the following research
To conduct an empirical analysis to identify the process and rationale of
implementation of e-government initiatives for development in Mozambique.
This includes depicting the major challenges and opportunities in the process of
e-government implementation.
To conduct an empirical and theoretical analysis to identify the constituents of
development that can and should be emphasised in the e-government
implementation for development.
These research objectives lead to the following research questions:
What is the process and underlying principles that drive the implementation of
e-government initiatives in developing countries?
What are the major theoretical building blocks that can help to theorize the
complex relation between e-government and development?
Theoretical Basis
This thesis is theoretically based upon Sen’s view of development, commonly
known as the ‘Capability Approach’ (Sen 1984, 1985, 1987a, 1992, 1999). Sen’s view
of development stresses on an individual’s ‘capabilities’, which is what an individual is
able to do in order to carry on a decent life as she/he values and is intrinsic to their
‘freedom’. Individual freedoms are the different choices of life that one has in deciding
the style of life to follow. Sen argues that development efforts should focus on creating
opportunities and institutional conditions, which enhance individual’s capabilities and
freedoms, rather than the commonly placed economic focus on enhancing personal
income and wealth, nonetheless important. The potential of the capability approach is
its focus on morality inherent in development (Sugden 1993), on each individual
(Robeyns 2003) as the base for development, and to celebrate the diversity of human
beings and cultures (Srinivasan 2007). In the e-government context, the capability
approach has the potential to support the evaluation of not only the technical aspects of
implementation but also the social constituents that e-government can provide for
human well-being (Madon 2004; De 2006; Zheng 2005, 2007).
Research Approach
To address the above research aims, an empirical study was carried out to
understand the involved agencies, actors, structures, tensions, challenges and dynamics,
in the process of implementation of selected e-government initiatives in Mozambique.
The study follows an interpretive research paradigm, which encourages the researcher
to make sense of the phenomenon being studied through the analysis of subjective and
inter-subjective interpretations of those involved (Walsham 1993, 1995). The study was
carried out during the period from 2005 to 2007 through a multiple case study design
approach (Orlikowski and Baroudi 2001). Interviews were used as the main data source,
complemented with documents review and observations. Specific details about the
research approach are provided in Chapter 3.
Expected Contributions
This thesis envisages contributing theoretically and practically to the research
domain of IS in developing countries, specifically relating to:
Expanding the scope of contemporary e-government analysis based on the
capability approach.
Contributing to the debates on the theorization and evaluation of e-government
for development.
Drawing implications for the implementation of e-government in developing
countries, which can help managers, practitioners and politicians who are
engaged in the process of realizing the benefits of e-government initiatives
practically on the ground.
Structure of the Thesis
The rest of this thesis is organized as follows:
Chapter 2 presents the empirical context of the research, including background
information of the country and some social aspects that are seen to influence the
implementation of e-government projects. This chapter is divided into the following
sections: 2.2 Geographic and demographic profile of the country; 2.3 The sociohistorical, political and economic context of the country; 2.4 Ongoing poverty reduction
strategies; 2.5 ICTs in Mozambique; 2.6 E-government in Mozambique. Sections 2.5
and 2.6 are dedicated respectively to describe the country’s ongoing efforts with respect
to ICTs initiatives in general and e-government in particular.
Based on a critical analysis of traditional approaches to development, Chapter 3
presents the theoretical framework, also informed by relevant literature on egovernment drawn from the IS field. Here, the development perspective of Sen is
presented as the core of theoretical argument, complemented with other supporting
building blocks of literacy, inter-project learning, and structures of formulated rules.
Chapter 4 is devoted to describe the research perspectives, specifically the
epistemological and methodological ones, including details of the fieldwork process.
Chapter 5 provides an overview of the research findings as summarized from the
publications that are included in the thesis as appendixes. It starts by presenting the
individual summary of each article and concludes with an integrating synthesis of the
presented articles.
The contributions and conclusions of the study are provided in Chapter 6. In section 6.2,
the key theoretical contributions concerning the conceptualization of e-government for
development and the practical implications of this study are presented, followed by the
concluding remarks in section 6.3.
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V{tÑàxÜ E
Chapter 2 -
Empirical Setting: The Context of Mozambique
In the previous chapter, I presented the motivation, research problem, objectives,
expected contributions and an overview of the study. This chapter presents the
background details of where the study took place. This chapter is divided into 6
sections. In section 2.2, I present the physical location of the setting and the
corresponding demographic profile of the population. A description of the socioeconomic and political situation of the country is provided in section 2.3. In section 2.4,
I present the national poverty reduction strategy. In section 2.5, the ICT panorama in
Mozambique is presented. And lastly, section 2.6 is dedicated to describe the context of
e-government implementation in Mozambique. This background helps to situate the
context in which the various e-government initiatives for development are currently
being implemented, and the associated challenges and opportunities. The guiding
assumption here is that e-government implementation is shaped by various contextual
conditions such as the historical conditions, political environment, human resources,
education, economy, infrastructure more generally, and related to ICTs more
Geographic and Demographic Profile
2.2.1 Geographic Profile
Mozambique is situated in the South-eastern part of Africa between the parallels
10º 27’ and 26º 56’ south, latitude and meridians 30º 12’ east and 40º 51’ west. The
total area of Mozambique is 801,590km2 of which 784,090km2 constitutes land and
17,500km2 water, making Mozambique the world's 36th-largest country. The country
extends to 2,016 km north-south and 772 km east-west. It is bordered by Tanzania to the
north; Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe to the west; and the Republic of South Africa
and Swaziland to the south. On the east, it is bordered by the Indian Ocean with a
coastline of 2,470km.
- 11 -
Mozambique is administratively divided into 10 provinces, which are further subdivided into 128 districts and 33 municipalities. The districts are further divided into a
total of 394 administrative posts, 1,042 localities and villages. Maputo city is the capital
of Mozambique, which has the status of a province. The governance structure including
the majority of the public institutions follows the administrative divisions of the
country. In this regard, the ministries of specific affairs, such as health and education
are situated in the capital, the provincial directorates at the provincial level, and district
directorates at the district level. Furthermore, in some cases, the country is subdivided
into three regions: South, Center and North. The South part is composed of Maputo,
Gaza and Inhambane provinces; the Center of the Sofala, Manica and Tete provinces;
and the North of Zambézia, Nampula, Niassa and Cabo Delgado provinces.
The climate is predominantly tropical, characterized by two principal seasons: rainy and
dry. It is a country subject to many natural hazards such as severe droughts; devastating
cyclones and floods especially in the central and southern provinces.
Map 2.1 Map of Mozambique
- 12 -
2.2.2 Demographic Profile
Demographic profile is important in development studies to develop an
understanding of the characteristics of the population that e-government implementation
initiatives are intended to serve. Demographic profile can provide useful inputs on the
design of e-government applications that respond to the specific needs of a certain
population. Demographic profile is often used in the planning and implementation of
programmes aimed at improving the quality of life. Demographic profile relevant to
planning include estimates and projections of population size and growth as well as its
components (levels and trends of fertility and mortality; labour force; employment and
unemployment; school-going age population; spatial distribution of the population;
internal migration and urbanization; and international migration). Table 2.1 provides
some key indicators of the demographic profile of Mozambique.
Table. 2.1 Demographic Profile of Mozambique
20,366,795 (Instituto Nacional de Estatística - INE 1999)
Population Density
20.1 inhabitants/km2
Population under 15years (%)
44.8 (Assembleia da República 2005)
Population Growth Rate (%)
2.4 (INE 2005)
Life Expectancy at birth
41.9 years (46.1 Sub-Saharan Africa) (INE 2005)
The population is unevenly distributed, with Nampula and Zambézia provinces being
the most populated ones in the country, composed of 3,861,347 and 3,880,184
inhabitants respectively (INE 1999). Generally, the majority of the population is
concentrated in the main cities and provincial capitals. The Mozambican population is
multicultural, evidenced by the fact that although the official language is Portuguese,
there are more than one hundred regional and local languages in the country (INE
- 13 -
Socio-historical, Political and Economic Context
Following the Portuguese colonization of Mozambique which terminated in
1975, the social-historical, political and economic situation in Mozambique can be seen
as being divided broadly into two time periods: post-independence after 1975 and the
current post-civil war period after 1992. The key characteristics of these two periods are
now discussed.
2.3.1 Post-Independence Period
Post-colonization, the initiation of the post-independence period was a cruel
starting point for a new nation, with 90% of the population being illiterate, and very few
people available with university degrees. There was a massive exodus of the Portuguese
origin staff from the public sector to Portugal. For example, almost all the professors of
the University had gone by 1976, when the last informatics licenciatura degree was
awarded. The overall university student population dropped from 2,400 in 1975 to less
than 900 in 1976 (Kluzer 1993), contributing to a severe shortage of trained human
resources to fill in the abrupt gap left by the Portuguese. The exodus of the Portuguese
was accompanied by various sabotage efforts by certain groups, of the Mozambican
economy including the process of emptying bank accounts, frauds in the imports and
exports of goods, and a steep repatriation of existing assets by the Portuguese (Silva
The Mozambican government at that time set a socialist and centralized government
philosophy, in which everything was planned and decided at the centre of political
power in Maputo. The Mozambican administrative reform laws replaced the colonial
administrative structures and constructed a new system of governance and tried to
reform the governance structure into national, provincial and local levels. In the
Portuguese administration, Mozambique as well as other Portuguese colonies was
considered merely as a province of Portugal.
As a way to bring the power back to the nationals post independence, in 1977 the
government launched a programme of nationalizing the majority of the companies
considered to be strategic for the country’s development. Due to criticisms of the very
form of the centralized governance model, a law was passed in 1987 that sought to
- 14 -
promote popular participation and increase accountability of the district assemblies and
their executive councils in the government. This law also sought to provide for closer
coordination between the cabinet and provincial governments in the decentralization of
administrative and financial powers to the districts. These developments contributed to
the birth of a new constitution in 1990 and the establishment of a multiparty political
One year after independence, Mozambique experienced the start of a devastating civil
war between the two main political parts – FRELIMO8 (the opposition) and RENAMO9
from 1976/80 till 1992 (Das Neves 1998). This civil war was horrific, displacing many
people from their homes and goods; destroying schools, health units, shops, and also
basic infrastructure relating to public utilities. The country’s economy was devastated
and the social environment adversely affected. Many Mozambicans saw their relatives
being barbarously killed and are still living traumatized as a result. Mines continued to
kill people even after the civil war finished, aggravating the economic crises and also
putting additional pressure on the socio-economic development processes, such as those
related to health care.
It was difficult to keep the employees in the industry, as exports had reduced
significantly, and it was difficult to subsidize the unproductive growth of several
sectors. At the beginning of the 1980s, the economic situation was even worse: the level
of imports had increased; education, rising health and state’s expenses led to a deficit in
the state budget, contributing to a loss of credibility in the international market.
The war, the drought and natural hazards further pressured the government to
implement new economic and development policies. Emergency attitudes to solve the
situation were seen to be not enough. As an attempt to counter the prevailing situation
and promote economic recovery, the government entered into negotiations with the
International Monetary Fund (IMF). Mozambique joined the IMF in 1984. Since 1987,
the Government has been implementing a wide-range of programs on economic
stabilization and structural reform, involving a shift towards market-oriented policies
and a sharp reduction in the size of the public sector. The government has liberalized
Frente de Libertação de Moçambique
Resistência Nacional Moçambicana
- 15 -
commodity prices, ended its management of the market, and introduced market oriented
changes in the education and health sectors. However, these efforts were complex to
implement in the beginning because of the intensification of the civil war that was
affecting most parts of the country, especially in the rural areas, which led to the
increase of economic difficulties for vulnerable groups (Noormahomed and Segall
2.3.2 Post-Civil War Period
As a result of many rounds of negotiations between the two main political
parties of FRELIMO and RENAMO, the civil war ended by signing a peace accord in
1992. In 1994, the country held its first presidential elections, followed by municipal
and other forms of elections.
In the post-civil war period, various development policies and economic recovery
programs were drawn up by the government, including the building of new roads,
bridges, schools, health units, industry, re-allocating people to their home villages,
demilitarization, demining, creating political conditions and providing other socioeconomic facilities for the people. These efforts have largely been donor funded and
carried out within the framework of the IMF recovery programmes.
The developmental and economic reforms introduced since the nineties have
contributed to revitalize the country’s economy. For example, the manufacturing output
grew by almost 50% in 1997, and a further 16% in 1998 (Fauvet 2000). However, the
country’s growth is still undermined by social problems such as corruption, growth of
crime, gender disparities, a weak system of justice and bureaucratic provision of public
2.3.3 Economic Indicators
Mozambique is one of the poorest countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and the
World, ranking 168 out of 177 countries on the Human Development Index (UNDP
2006a). Seventy one percent of the population is rural (Governo de Moçambique 2007a)
and depends primarily on agriculture as their principal occupation (Assembleia da
- 16 -
República 2005). Moreover, poverty rates are higher in rural as compared to urban areas
(Arndt et al. 2006).
Agriculture activity depends mostly on the seasons. Technologies such as tractors,
ploughs, fertilizers and pesticides are rarely used in the family based farming sector.
The number of irrigated areas is mainly limited to bigger farms in lowland areas and
mainly directed to vegetable production in small areas. The agriculture sector
constitutes on average 23.1% of the GDP. In 2006, agriculture contributed to about
22.7% of the GDP, and 22.5% in 2005, remaining nearly constant over the last 7 years.
The country’s GDP growth rate in 2006 was 9.6% (KPMG Moçambique 2007). The
government in its Economic and Social Plan (PES) for 2006 has set a target for
economic growth of about 8%, which has been the average rate over the past ten years.
Agriculture, construction, transport and communications sectors have contributed to the
growth of GDP over the target in 2006 (Governo de Moçambique 2007a). Industry is
another sector which contributes significantly to the country’s GDP estimated at
32.65% in 2006 (KPMG Mozambique 2007).
Mozambique remains a model of successful post-conflict transition, with impressive
economic growth and sustained political stability. Mozambique has been one of the
world’s most rapidly growing economies over the past five years. Graph 2.1 shows the
economic growth of Mozambique during the last 10 years.
Graph 2.1 Real GDP Growth and Per Capita GDP ($ PPP at current prices)
(Source: African Development Bank (AfDB)/OECD 2007)
2.3.4 Health and Education Indicators
Mozambique’s basic healthcare services cover just 40% of the population
(Greenberg and Sadowsky 2006). The health care network (in 2007) consisted of about
1,250 health units, implying one health unit per 15,000 inhabitants. Of the total number
- 17 -
of health units, only 3% (43) are hospitals, and are capable of advanced procedures such
as surgeries. Thirty percent of the health facilities are running without water and 40%
without disposable syringes and needles (MISAU/DPC10 2005). There is not enough
staff in all technical areas. For example, the country has a total of 600 medical doctors,
leading to a rate of 1.8 medical doctors per 100,000 inhabitants (UNDP 2006b).
Maternal mortality rate was 190 per 100,000 in 2006 (Governo de Moçambique 2007a),
contraceptive prevalence 5.6% and health expenditure a mere 4.1% as a percentage of
GDP. Infant mortality was 19% in 2003 (Governo de Moçambique 2007a), and life
expectancy at birth just 42 years. Malaria accounts for 30% of all recorded deaths. The
rate of prevalence of HIV for 2004 was reported at 16.2% (Governo de Moçambique
Indicators from the education sector reflect an improvement from 1975 when illiteracy
was 90% and there were a very limited number of schools and only one university. In
2006, there were 16 universities (7 public and 9 private) and 43,233 enrolled students in
the higher education. Four thousand, five hundred and eighty (4,580) students graduated
in 2006 and 18,316 were registered as new intakes (Ministério de Educação e Cultura
2005). The net enrolment rate at the primary school level was 87.1% in 2006 (Governo
de Moçambique 2007a). However, illiteracy is higher than the average for the SubSaharan region. Table 2.2 shows the illiteracy rates of the country.
Table. 2.2 Illiteracy rates of the Country
Illiteracy (%)
52 (Matavel 2007)
Adult illiteracy (%)
53.6 (INE 2004)
Rural/Urban illiteracy (%)
65.7/30.3 (INE 2004)
Gender illiteracy (%)
women – 68/ men 37.7 (INE 2004)
Illiteracy between 15 and 19 years (%)
37.9 (48 women) (Mario and Nandja 2006)
Illiteracy between 20 and 29 years (%)
50.9 (61 women) (Mario and Nandja 2006)
Ministério de Saúde/ Direcção de Planificação e Cooperação
- 18 -
Illiteracy is distributed unevenly across the country. For example, illiteracy in the
capital city of Maputo is 12.7% overall and 19% within women, while in Zambézia
province, the same figures are 62.6% and 81.8% respectively.
Low levels of literacy have implications in other sectors as well as in development
initiatives such as those of e-government. Specifically, within the public sector in
general, where the capacity to deliver effective public services remains limited, out of
approximately 110,000 civil servants (in 2005), only 3% hold university degrees and
only 12% have completed high school. Trained people are distributed unevenly over the
country, with the majority of the better educated employees based in the central
administration at Maputo (African Development Fund 2005). I now discuss the
government strategy for solving some of the above mentioned problems and poverty in
National Poverty Reduction Strategy
In order to alleviate poverty, the Government of Mozambique adopted an Action
Plan for the Reduction of Absolute Poverty (PARPA - the Mozambican Poverty
Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP)) for 2001-2005 (PARPA I) and for 2006-2009
(PARPA II), which includes each Sector’s Strategic Plan (SSP). In PARPA II, poverty
is defined as follows:
“… lack of opportunities for individuals, families and communities to
access minimal living conditions according to the society basic norms.”
(Governo de Moçambique 2006, Pag. 8)
PARPA I and PARPA II share the same priorities in the areas of human capital
development through education and health, improved governance, development of
basic infrastructure, agriculture, rural development, and improved macroeconomic and
financial management (Governo de Moçambique 2006). PARPA is designed to be
flexible, and is adjusted and updated annually using the Medium-Term Fiscal
Framework, the Economic and Social Plan, and the State Budget. There are tools used
to implement the Government’s Five-Years Plan, which focus on reform of the public
sector, decentralization, and making improvements in the legal and judicial systems.
- 19 -
The central objective of PARPA is a substantial reduction in the poverty, specifically
from 70% in 1997 to less than 60% by 2005 and to 45% by the end of this decade. In
2003, poverty was reduced to 54% (Governo de Moçambique 2007b). However, one of
the key constraints which have hampered the effective implementation of PARPA has
been the weak institutional capacity of the public sector. In particular, the shift from a
centrally-controlled economy towards a market oriented one, intensified the pressure for
transparency and accountability in the public administration. PARPA II recognizes ICTs
as a cross-cutting issue with the potential to be effective in supporting various poverty
alleviation programs and to facilitate all development activities.
ICTs in Mozambique
The use of ICTs in Mozambique can be traced back to the second half of the
1960s, when the first computer (of unknown type) was introduced in a tobacco
company (Kluzer 1993). However, the Railway Company had started using mechanical
tabulators for statistical purposes in transit trade in the 1940s. Currently, the use of
computers has spread to different companies with the objective of primarily supporting
the provision of administrative and accounting operations (ibid). In 2000, the
government of Mozambique conducted the first survey on ICT infrastructure, which
reported that the country is gradually entering the global information society. However,
the spread is uneven with more than 50% of the ICT infrastructure being located in
Maputo (Comissão para a Política de Informática (CPInfo) 2000).
Since 2000, government ICT based projects have increased rapidly and new ICT
policies and strategies have been born. These efforts have increased the opportunities
for many Mozambicans to access and use ICTs in various spheres of society including
in the rural areas; for example, through telecentres and mobile services.
2.5.1 Coverage of ICT Services in Mozambique
Until 2006 only 9.4% of the population had access to the electricity network
(Ministério de Energia 2006), and in most rural areas power consumption is based on
generators. Electricity is scheduled to reach all district capitals by 2020, but even then,
only 20% of the population will be covered (Greenberg and Sadowsky 2006). Egovernment implementation plans have to take into account this limitation and draw
- 20 -
mechanisms that enable people living under such conditions to enjoy opportunities
provided by e-government, similar to those with electricity.
The basic telecommunications network infrastructure is managed and operated by
Telecomunicações de Moçambique (TDM) and owned entirely by the State. However,
the provision of value added services is open to both the public and private sectors
(Muchanga and Mabila 2007). TDM was created in 1981 as a result of the split between
Post and Telecommunication services. The Public Switched Telephony Network
(PSTN) infrastructure under the monopoly of TDM consists of a national backbone,
covering about 79.7% of the country’s territory, including all provinces up to the district
level. This network is based on a combination of different technologies such as Very
Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT), wireless loop, copper cable and most recently a
marine fibre optic cable along the coast line. Within the main cities, the telephone
switches/exchanges are linked via optical fibre networks and copper is used for
connecting the end-users to the secondary network (Muchanga and Mabila 2007).
Mozambique has a teledensity of about 0.4611, one of the lowest in the region. TDM’s
Annual Reports indicate that the available capacity of telephone lines is 127,902, but the
number of subscribers of fixed lines has been dropping since 2000 (Muchanga and
Mabila 2007). To illustrate, between 2003 and 2004, TDM lost 14,063 subscribers
although it has had a 21% increase of leased lines to 1,304. TDM has, however,
launched a fixed pre-paid service in 2005 and the Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line
(ADSL) service in March 2006, which is expected to boost the sales of both leased lines
for Internet access as well as regain some of the fixed voice market that has been
declining continuously.
Mobile services in Mozambique were introduced in November 1997, when the first
mobile service provider, mCel was established. Subsequently, in December 2003, the
second mobile service provider, Vodacom Mozambique, with its major stakeholder
being Vodacom South Africa, was established. The geographical coverage of both mCel
and Vodacom networks are still limited to the main cities and surrounding areas, and the
development corridors linking the coast with the hinterland regions and neighbouring
- 21 -
countries. However, the network coverage is being gradually extended to smaller towns
in rural areas, with priority to those located in strategic regions of economic
development or tourism (Muchanga and Mabila 2007). Geographically, mCel covers
nearly 60% of the country. The total figure of mobile subscribers in the country
estimated in January 2008 was around 3.3 millions12, of which nearly 1.5 million of
them are Vodacom customers.
Mozambique has a number of radio stations, including community radios, which play
an important role in the remote areas in the context of information, education, culture,
health and civic campaigns. The radio network covers approximately 60-70% of the
population, with Rádio Moçambique (RM) being by far, the most advanced one and
with the largest geographical coverage (Miller and Associates 2001). RM is a public
radio and the only one that covers every province, broadcasting in Portuguese, English
and in the major dialects used in the country.
The first national TV station to be established was Televisão de Moçambique (TVM) in
1980, and private TV stations were established only 10 years later. The global coverage
of the national TV broadcasting serves only 15 to 17% of the population (Miller and
Associates 2001), primarily in the urban and semi-urban areas (Muchanga and Mabila
The provision of e-mail and Internet services in Mozambique was initiated by the
Eduardo Mondlane University Informatics Centre (CIUEM) in 1993. In 1997, through
the Leland Initiative, USAID13 supported the establishment of five new Internet Service
Providers (ISP), sharing a 128Kbps gateway hosted by TDM. There are currently more
than 10 operational ISPs in Mozambique.
The high subscription fees undoubtedly limits the number of e-mail subscribers. Most
ISPs charge on average between US$30 and US$40 per month for a dial-up connection.
Using other technologies such as leased lines (analogue), Integrated Services Digital
Network (ISDN), wireless and cable TV, access to the Internet becomes even more
Hermenegildo Gamito – President of Vodacom (Mozambique) in a media conference held at Hotel Polana in Maputo on 19th
February 2008.
United States Agency for International Development
- 22 -
In the provincial capital cities, especially in Maputo, the number of Internet cafes is
beginning to grow after a long initial period of stagnation, apparently caused by the high
fees charged. On an average, the Internet cafes in Maputo now charge between
MT30,00 to MT60,00 per hour, about US$1.20 and US$2.50 respectively. Looking at
this issue in the local context, the prices are simply too high, and it is worth comparing
them with the prices in other SADC14 countries such as Tanzania, where similar costs
are at Tshs500 (equivalent to US$0.50) per hour and where internet appears to be far
more widely used (Muchanga and Mabila 2007).
Like in most developing countries in the world, it is very difficult to assess the number
of Internet users in Mozambique. A total number of email subscribers in the country
was estimated at about 60,000 with more than 50% of them in Maputo15. However, even
if reliable telecommunication facilities exist in most provincial capitals, the high costs
and lack of skills limits the use of Internet outside of the capital.
The limited penetration of ICTs reflects the country’s poverty status, even though the
current trend reflects an increase in use, particularly in the private sector and the state.
2.5.2 ICTs and related Human Resources
According to available statistical data, less than 50% of the Mozambican
population are classified as literate. While 10% of the literate population have received
tertiary training, less than 1% of the overall population are reported to have ICT skills
or experience (Massingue 2001). However, the current trends show an increase,
contributed by the efforts of the government in creating new universities and technical
schools offering various ICT degrees. Despite this, ICT skill shortage has been and will
continue to be one of the most serious challenges to the process of adoption and use of
ICT within the country and in particular within the public sector. Strategies for ICT
education and human resources development are critical, and only by developing skills
and capacity, can the country succeed socially and economically (CPInfo 2002).
Sourthen African Development Community
None of the sources could indicate with certainty the size of the existing user market but, according to the BMI-TechKnowledge
Handbook 2001, estimated numbers where as high as 14 267 for 2001.
- 23 -
The shortage of people with software development and other ICT skills has generated
another set of problems, that of disparities between salaries in the public sector and the
open market. An entry level programmer in the public sector will earn about 400 to 500
USD per month, while the industry or international donor projects will provide starting
salaries of about 800 and 1500-2000USD respectively in the domestic market
(Greenberg and Sadowsky 2006).
Mozambique’s market and industry for IT products and services is still very small and
not fully developed compared to many of the other less developed countries. The
software industry in Mozambique mainly revolves around very few companies that
produce software primarily for accounting and resource management (Greenberg and
Sadowsky 2006).
2.5.3 ICT Policy and Strategies
Mozambique’s National ICT Policy, approved by the Council of Ministers in
2000, provides principles and objectives that help to position ICTs as a motor for
various aspects of national development including good governance. The general
objective of the National Policy is to provide (i) points of reference for the harmonious
development of the information society in Mozambique, and, (ii) a basis for legislation
and plans of action in this field. However, the adoption of this policy has been uneven
with some projects already in advanced stages of implementation and others lagging
The ICT policy emphasizes that ICT efforts need to be integrated with the country’s
different developmental agendas, such as programmes for the reduction of dire poverty,
the improvement of basic living conditions of the citizens, enhancing educational and
knowledge development, improving the quality of services in public and private
institutions, and increasing the participation of citizens in democratic processes and
political life.
In 2002, the National ICT Policy Implementation Strategy was approved based on the
Government Programme 2000-2004, PARPA and the ICT Policy. The ICT Policy
identifies six priority areas: education; human resource development; health; universal
access, infrastructure; and governance (CPInfo 2002).
- 24 -
The strategy provides the operational framework to support the phased implementation
of a series of short, medium and long-term priority projects in the six priority areas
specified in the ICT Policy. The strategy recognizes three major challenges to achieve
the articulated goals: increase of the base of human resources with competent skills in
ICT and their availability throughout the country; expansion and modernization of the
telecommunications infrastructure in the country; and acceleration of the process of
defining the telecommunications policy; facilitating free competition; and, attracting
investment. The ICT strategy aims at overcoming these constraints in the long run while
defining, in the short run, programmes that maximize the use of available local skills
and infrastructure (CPInfo 2002).
The ICT implementation strategy includes a significant number of ICTs projects for
development such as telecentres and schoolnet, which aims to enhance a variety of
human capabilities and develop an e-government component. E-government projects
include, the Government Electronic Network (GovNet), State Personnel Information
System (SIP 2000), Financial Administrative and Management System (e-SISTAFE),
Computerized Land Registry and Management system (LMIS), Civil Identification
System; Development Portal, Health Information System, Electoral Management
System and One-Stop-Shop. According to Greenberg and Sadowsky (2006) the
Financial Management System and Land Registry and Management System are
expected to have a profound impact on the government and the services it delivers.
These are expected to enforce the rule of law, transparency, and enforce principles of
good governance for the major assets of the country, namely finance and land.
E-government in Mozambique
There is a very high-profile political will in Mozambique for implementing ICT
projects in general and e-government ones in particular, seen as an enabling tool and
driver for major government programs. The Mozambican e-government strategy was
launched in 2004. According to Governo de Moçambique (2005), the widespread use of
technology and applications of information and knowledge will directly contribute to
the objectives of the Public Sector Reform, the ICT Policy, which in turn drives the
PARPA (see figure 2.1). The overall objectives of e-government in Mozambique are to
improve efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of public services, ensure
- 25 -
transparency and accountability of the government, and to provide access to information
to improve business and simplify citizen’s lives (Governo de Moçambique 2005).
Figure 2.1 E-government as a driving force for other government programs (adapted from the
Mozambique e-government strategy)
The stated vision of the national e-government strategy is as follows:
“…to provide to every Mozambican in every area of governance, every
sector of the economy, and at every level of society, the right to access,
process and apply all the information necessary for each citizen to achieve
their fullest potential as a knowledgeable individual, responsible and global
competitor.” (Governo de Moçambique 2005, pag. 11).
Flagship projects16 inscribe the rationale for e-government to consolidate and
proactively build upon existing ICT and PSR projects. In the following sections, I
describe the e-government projects that constituted the objects of my study.
SISTAFE is an Integrated State Financial Management System in Mozambique.
The official implementation of the system started in the Ministry of Finance (MF),
guided by the Law 9/0217 passed by the National Assembly in late 2001. Accompanying
regulations have been gradually incorporated in the project during its implementation.
The Law 9/02 provided a conceptual model, a general functional description of
SISTAFE which serves as the starting point for building the system. This was followed
by the formulation of the IT architecture, capacity building and training programmes for
public sector employees and the elaboration of SISTAFE's legal framework
(procedures, rules and manuals).
Considering that an efficient public expenditure management system is one of the key
conditions for reducing poverty, the SISTAFE implementation was also part of the
They are pioneering and priority projects to enhance a particular value or service to a specified community of users. They involve
a cluster of stakeholders with respective inputs and outputs. (Governo de Moçambique 2005)
Law 9/02 creates SISTAFE. It was passed by the Mozambican Parliament in December 2001 and issued in February 2002.
- 26 -
recommendations of the 2001 Public Expenditure Management Review (PEMR). This
review included a detailed analysis of Mozambique’s public expenditure management
systems by a combined team from the MF, the World Bank, IMF and several bilateral
SISTAFE’s objectives consist of involving the complete budget execution cycle and
incorporating subsystems for budgeting, treasury management, accounting, asset
management and internal control. In addition, the system is also aimed at establishing
and harmonizing the rules, policies, procedures of budget planning, management,
execution and control of the public assets, and producing integrated and timely
information required by the public sector. The government intends to ultimately link the
procurement process with the financial management system through a computerised
system, e-SISTAFE, that will interface with the SISTAFE. This computerized system is
under development at the MF and is being parallelly implemented in various public
institutions from the national to the provincial levels.
e-SISTAFE is designed to facilitate government decentralization, a key initiative of the
government. The project is being implemented in phases, and public institutions are
gradually being integrated into the system. The overall current public financial
management system is manual, with public accounting laws dating back to 1881 and the
fiscal regulation dating back to 1901.
e-SISTAFE is gradually substituting these legacy systems, encompassing budget
preparation, financial management, asset management, public accounting, payroll and
internal control. It is believed that e-SISTAFE will allow both the government and
donors to keep a good track of the state’s budget and therefore enhance transparency - a
component of good governance and a pillar for poverty alleviation. Limited
transparency has historically led to an inefficient use of public resources and a system
highly vulnerable to corruption.
In addition, e-SISTAFE will provide control and production of timely and reliable
information on public sector budgets and asset management. It will also maintain an
efficient and effective internal control system with internationally accepted internal
audit procedures. Moreover, e-SISTAFE will ultimately allow consolidation of 12,000
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bank accounts into one. For the first time, e-SISTAFE will allow Mozambique to know
how much money the country has exactly, including money from different donors.
The e-SISTAFE is also part of the Global Strategy for Public Sector Reform ((GSPSR)
2000-2011) being implemented by the government since 2001, to strengthen the
institutional capacity within the public sector. The government recognizes that
successful implementation of its poverty reduction plan depends on improving its
existing inefficient and highly bureaucratic public sector. GSPSR focuses on service
delivery, decentralization, institutional restructuring, public sector professionalism,
financial management and accountability, good governance and the fight against
corruption (African Development Fund 2005).
Greenberg and Sadowsky (2006) argue that e-SISTAFE implementation is a very good
experience for Mozambique which is demonstrating a number of important concepts
including that large software development can successfully be undertaken in
Mozambique. Although significant international consultants contribute to the project,
this was the first major e-government project conceived and implemented in
Mozambique. e-SISTAFE will also push ICTs into the provincial capitals and districts
far in advance of normal expectations.
2.6.2 E-Land Registry and Land Management Information Systems (LMIS)
All land in Mozambique is owned by the State – individuals and businesses can
acquire the right to use land and accompanying benefit for a renewable period of 50
years. Property on land can be privately owned and transferred. However, land-use and
property ownership are registered independently. These disjointed registration processes
are lengthy; fraught with opportunities for corruption, cause public discontent; and
discourage land/property-based investment (Law 19/97).
Land administration and land management activities in Mozambique are directed to
promote use of land for social welfare and economic development, security of tenure
and to guarantee access to the land for Mozambican people as well as other foreign
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The Government Programme 2000-2004 has defined Land as one of the indispensable
resources for production of agro-cattle breeding, for forestry and fauna exploitation, for
the conservation and maintenance of the biodiversity, of ecological equity and for the
construction of economic, social and habitation infrastructures. In addition, the
Government Programme states that the land management policy must guarantee the use
of land rights to all national singular and collective entities, foreigners and those who
are undertaking economical and social initiatives for the benefit of the Mozambicans.
The National Directorate of Geography and Cadastre (DINAGECA), referred too as the
National Directorate of Land and Forestry (DINATEFE), is the government institution
under the Ministry of Agriculture, which is responsible for national mapping
(topographic and thematic), land administration and land management (national land
cadastre and archive).
DINATEFE is responsible for establishing, providing and maintaining the national
geodetic network, national map series and national cadastral atlas. It is also responsible
for administration and management of all land rights concession processes, data on land
use and land cover for better planning and decision making. In addition, DINATEFE
defines policies, standards, norms and procedures on geo-referenced data and
Problems in identifying land ownership have been highlighted by private banks and
others as being a major impediment to invest in Mozambique, and to contribute to more
problems of land conflicts. DINAGECA is implementing a LMIS, which was designed
to computerize all aspects of land management and particularly to replace the centuryold land registry system. The replacement of this archaic, inaccessible and poorly
indexed paper registers with a networked database system will, if effective, be quite
LMIS runs under another e-government project called GovNet – Government Network,
which aims to improve public services and increase transparency in the public sector.
The pilot has established a common communication platform for public institutions
such as the Ministry of Public Administration, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Health
and Ministry of Science and Technology, among others. Through the GovNet project,
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these ministries have been provided with a unified e-mail system, intranet, and
document management system, as well as cost-effective shared access to the Internet.
GovNet is now being used by over 500 government employees via nearly 400 work
As part of the project, a new government web portal has also been launched, intended to
increase public access to information. The site is gradually adding content from all
government ministries, as well as other information and services to encourage public
participation in national policy processes. In his speech18 about the implementation of
GovNet in Mozambique, Venâncio Massingue, the Minister of Science and Technology
“GovNet increases our capacity to coordinate national efforts to foster
growth and reduce poverty in Mozambique. It is a first step but already
we are seeing more efficient inter-departmental communication, as well
as reduced administrative costs by avoiding a duplication of efforts.”
Plans are under way to scale up the GovNet initiative to include 150 other public
agencies in Maputo and Mozambique’s ten other provinces. Once complete, the entire
network would connect approximately 10,000 government workers and 7,500 work
stations. Figure 2.2 shows the uptake of GovNet network among provinces.
Figure 2.2 GovNet Network (Source: UTICT19 2006)
In E-government Enables Online Efficiency in Mozambique with Support of Gateway Foundation, Development Gateway,
Washington, DC, June 16, 2005.
Unidade Técnica de Implementação da Política de Informática
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LMIS aims also to: 1) speed up and facilitate the land rights application handling
processes within cadastral services, cross-checking and validating of all legal
requirements; 2) facilitate the administration and management of land and other natural
resources within Government institutions (lands, forestry and wildlife, waters, mineral
resources, tourism, physical planning, statistics, etc.); 3) cross-check and validate all
legal requirements and restrictions; 4) facilitate input, consultation, verification and
updating information on land and other natural resources; and, 5) facilitate the exercise
of inter- and intra-governmental activities of planning, distribution and management of
natural resources within the Government institutions; and, 6) facilitate the provision of a
consistent database on utilization of land and other natural resources. Prior to this
project, different institutions possessed their own databases.
Figure 2.3 shows a unified database for LMIS in Oracle 9i organized in different
themes and stored in a Server 1 along with other applications for data manipulation such
as ArcGIS and ArcSDE. Data of this database is accessed by all the departments dealing
with land and the public in general through a GovNet platform.
LMIS database
Land Rights
Geodetic Network
Aerial Images
Land Use
Fig. 2.3 Different Themes and Applications to be integrated in LMIS (Adapted from Mucombo 2004)
- 31 -
These three e-government projects described above possess characteristics relevant to
fulfil the empirical and theoretical aims of this research. The characteristics: a) they are
all e-government for development projects; b) they are all implemented under the
charge of the government umbrella and not through private institutions; c) they are all
implemented under the umbrella of public sector reform efforts; and d) their initiation
coincides with the implementation of the national ICT policy. These projects offer
opportunities to analyse the whole process from inception to use, and potentially
provide insights to analyse the relationship between e-government and development.
In summary, this chapter has provided information on key development concerns of the
nation. The socio-historic profile, which describes how the country has been moving
from the source of the problems to the solutions, and is useful to understanding the
changing context of problems and solutions, reflected for example, in the shifting values
of the socio-economic indicators. This chapter also helps to situate the e-government
applications under study within the broader context of IT and related infrastructure in
the country. Following this contextual information, in the next chapter, I present my
theoretical framework.
- 32 -
V{tÑàxÜ F
Chapter 3 -
Literature Review and Conceptual Framework
In this chapter, I discuss various theoretical concepts which are drawn upon to
help address the main research questions posed in this thesis. The theoretical basis rests
primarily upon the conceptualization of social development proposed by the 1998 Nobel
Prize winner in Economics – Amartya Sen. The core argument is that, for e-government
applications to contribute positively to development, they must open up broader
opportunities for the materialization of an individual’s well-being and expansion of
capabilities. The underlying theoretical argument is then to examine how e-government
projects can contribute to development as conceptualized by Sen.
In building this theoretical argument, this chapter is structured in 5 subsections. After
this short introduction, in the second subsection, I provide a historical overview of the
concept of development and relevant critiques. In the third subsection, I discuss the
relationship between e-government and development, which then provides the basis for
the articulation of my conceptual framework that I present in the concluding section. A
brief summary of this chapter is then provided.
Development and the Dominant Economic Framework: A
Historical Overview
Historically, notions of development have been highly influenced by economic
thought, as exemplified in the universal use of the measure of GDP per capita, and aid
agendas being driven by theories of capital accumulation, greater division of labour, and
technological progress and trade. Thomas (2000) has described development and
poverty to be largely antonyms, as development would solve poverty, and the absence
of it would lead to poverty. Escobar (1995) describes poverty on a global scale to be a
discovery of the early post – World War II period, when two thirds of the world
population of Asia, Africa and Latin America, the then called Third World, was
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transformed as poor subjects in 1948 by the World Bank on the basis of the criteria of
annual per capita income below than $100. Furthermore: “…if the problem was one of
insufficient income, the solution was clearly economic growth. Poverty became an
organized concept and the object of the new problematization…” (Escobar 1995, pag.
81). Such a conceptualization of development and poverty brought into existence new
discourses and practices (Foucault 1986).
In order to overcome poverty and accelerate development, discourses formulated in the
1940s and 1950s, sought to replicate economic and technological policies of the so
called developed countries in the developing ones. Since overcoming poverty required
supplies of capital, the World Bank, the IMF and other such agencies were created to
fulfil this task of capital formation, along with industrialization and development
planning (Escobar 1995). Various authors (for example, Kothari and Minogue 2002;
Chakravarti 2005) have described the gains achieved through these policies to be
disillusioning, and on the contrary have contributed to the persistence of poverty, the
widening of inequities between and also within countries, and the magnification of
deprivations (Schuurman 1993; Escobar 1995; Thomas 2000; Kothari and Minogue
2002). The approach has also been described to be limited, as it treats social life as a
technical problem, emphasising statistical figures and treating human values and
cultures as abstract concepts. The focus was primarily on incomes rather than the whole
gamut of issues that adversely influence the well-being of human beings and groups of
people. In Escobar’s words: “the most important exclusion … was and continues to be
what development was supposed to be all about: people” (Escobar 1995, pag. 44).
The implementation of these policies have typically been top-down with limited
participation of the beneficiaries of development (Chakravarti 2005) and aid policies
being based on donor conditionalities rather than on recipient needs. Over time,
development has become the basis of a lucrative industry of planners, experts and civil
servants (Rhanema 1986), and its gradual Europeanization (Hettne 1990). This
positioning implied that Europe and North America were actively positioned as the
models that developing countries have to follow to achieve development. This model
included various facets such as the creation of typical social patterns of demography,
urbanization, production and consumption (Toye 1993), application of technology and
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the inculcation of models of modern social organizations and values (Lerner 1958).
These policies have thus contributed to an overall increased dependency of developing
countries on donor aid (Chakravarti 2005). Consequently, countries, especially African,
who have been major targets for aid, “have continued to exhibit poor economic
performance in spite of several decades of such assistance” (Chakravarti 2005, pag. 1).
Acknowledgement of the failure of these policies have over the years contributed to
alternative conceptualizations of development, which focus on the creation of
conditions to support the realization of the human well-being (Max-Neet et al. 1989;
Hettne 1990; Escobar 1995; Spoor 2004; Sen 1999). I draw upon one such
conceptualization proposed by Sen as a basis of this thesis.
Sen’s Concept of Development: The Capability Approach
Based on critiques of the standard economic framework, Amartya Sen has
presented a viable alternative to think about human development in terms of a
‘capability approach’. Sen argues that development efforts should focus on the real
‘freedoms’ that individuals have for leading a valuable life, to undertake activities such
as reading, working, or being politically active, or enjoying positive states of being,
such as being healthy or literate. Sen argues that when making normative evaluations,
the focus should be on what individuals are able to be and to do, and not only on what
they can consume, or on their incomes. The latter are only the means of well-being, and
not an individual’s capabilities, which forms the basis of Sen’s widely known
Capability Approach (Sen 1984, 1985, 1987a, 1992, 1999). This approach assumes that
national incomes and growth measured alone tell us little about distribution and thus
how deprived people are doing.
While Sen acknowledges that income is important because of the things it allows us to
do, he cautions that it is equally important to look into other determinants such as social
and economic arrangements (for example, facilities for education and health care) as
well as political and civil rights (for example, the liberty to participate in public
discussion and scrutiny). Similarly, industrialization or technological progress or social
modernization can contribute substantially to individuals’ well being, such as by
providing for employment opportunities. Therefore, Sen argues the need for an
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integrated analysis of economic, social and political activities, where each approach has
something to offer, and can be unified under the capability approach.
Economic theories are limited in that they do not acknowledge that people differ in their
abilities to convert income into capabilities, due to personal, social, or environmental
factors, such as physical and mental handicaps, talents, social norms and customs, legal
rules, a country’s public infrastructure, public goods, climate, and so on (Robeyns
2003). In the contemporary world, especially in developing countries, there are people
suffering from hunger, lack of education, limited access to health care and sanitary
arrangements, lack of gainful employment or economic and social security, inequalities
between women and men, people denied political liberty and basic civil rights.
According to Sen (1999), overcoming these constraints or ‘unfreedoms’ and removing
the major sources of them is a central part of the exercise of development, as “it
enhances the choices and opportunities of individuals to exercise their reasoned agency”
(pag. 33).
Sen’s ideas have had considerable influence on both the practice of and research on
development. The capability approach is the foundation of the Human Development
Report published annually by the UNDP, and has inspired researchers to turn their
attention to issues of basic welfare. In the arena of information systems research, Sen’s
ideas are also slowly gaining application (Madon 2004; Zheng 2005; De 2006; Zheng
2007; Madon et al. 2007; Byrne and Sahay 2007). In the next section, I describe some
of his key concepts that are relevant to this research.
3.3.1 Key Concepts of the Capability Approach
Functionings and Capabilities
Functionings and Capabilities are the core concepts in Sen’s capability
approach. A functioning is “the various things a person may value doing or being” (Sen
1999, pag. 75), the practical realisation of one’s chosen way of life. Functionings
depend on both individual and institutional conditions, within which potentials can be
achieved, such as age, gender, access to medical services, nutritional knowledge,
education and climatic conditions. An example of a functioning can be, ‘being
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successful in agriculture’, which depends for example, on the health and knowledge at
the individual level, and on land size and government support at the institutional level.
A capability is “a person’s ability to do valuable acts or reach valued states of being”,
and “represents the alternative combinations of things a person is able to do or be” (Sen
1993, pag. 30). Capability represents a set of functionings someone can achieve (Sen
1999). For example, a person unaware of the land registration procedures may have the
same functioning (status) of ‘no land registration’, as a person aware of, but who does
not possess the ‘capability set’ to achieve the same. So, functioning serves as the
outcome of an applied capability, thus representing interrelated concepts which at the
same time involve distinctive connotations. In Sen’s words: “A functioning is an
achievement, whereas a capability is the ability to achieve” (Sen 1987b, pag.36).
Freedoms and Unfreedoms
Freedom is defined as “the range of options a person has in deciding what life to
lead” (Drèze and Sen 1995, pag.10). Poverty, described in these terms, represents the
lack of freedoms, or unfreedoms (Sen 1999), while development consists of the removal
of all sources of unfreedoms that leave people with little choices and opportunities in
exercising their reasoned agency (ibid). Famines, undernutrition, limited access to
health care and education, are examples of such unfreedoms. The freedom-centered
perspective has a generic similarity to the common concern with ‘quality of life’, both
emphasizing the choices humans have and their capacity to exercise them, and not just
the resources or income that a person commands (Sen 1999).
Freedom is central to the process of development for both evaluative and effective
reasons. Evaluative reason concerns an assessment of progress primarily in terms of
whether the freedoms that people have are enhanced. The effectiveness reason concerns
achievement based on the free agency of people to do things he/she values in life. The
relation between individual freedom and the achievement of social development goes
well beyond the constitutive connection important as it is. What people can positively
achieve is influenced by economic opportunities, political liberties, social powers, and
the enabling conditions of good health and education. The institutional arrangements for
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these opportunities are influenced by the exercise of peoples’ freedoms and through
their participation in the making of public decisions (Sen 1999).
Roles of Freedom in Development
Sen conceptualizes the expansion of freedom as both the primary end (or
constitutive role) which emphasizes substantive freedom in enriching human life and the
principal means (or instrumental role) of development. While substantive freedoms
(means) include elementary capabilities like being able to avoid deprivations,
instrumental freedom (ends) concerns the manner in which rights, opportunities, and
entitlements contribute to the expansion of human freedoms in general, and thus to
development. Instrumental freedoms consist of opportunities that people have for
political freedoms, economic facilities, social opportunities, and tend to contribute to
the general capability of a person to live more freely. The different kinds of freedoms
described by Sen are first schematically depicted and then summarized in Table 3.1.
Figure 3.1 schematically describes development with respect to Sen’s concepts.
Functionings are the outcomes or ends of development. Individual functionings depend
on individual conditions (age, gender, profession, etc.), institutional conditions or
arrangements and the ability to do something (capabilities or means). The ability to do
something is also framed by individual functionings. Institutional arrangements provide
choices, options and opportunities for doing things. The lack or existence of choices
determines unfreedoms.
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Table. 3.1 Types of Freedom (Adapted from Sen 1999)
Types of freedom
Political freedoms
The opportunities that people have to determine who should
govern and on what principles. Also includes the possibility to
scrutinize and criticize authorities, to have freedom of political
expression and an uncensored press, and the freedom to choose
between different political parties.
Economic facilities
The opportunities that individuals have to enjoy to utilize
economic resources for the purpose of consumption, or
production, or change. This depends on the resources owned or
available for use as well as on conditions of exchange.
Social opportunities
Concerns the arrangements that society makes for education,
health care and so on, which influences the individual’s
substantive freedom to live better, both in terms of their private
lives and public participation in economic and political
Transparency guarantees
Concerns openness that people can expect while dealing with
one another under guarantees of disclosure and lucidity. These
serve to prevent corruption, financial irresponsibility and
underhand dealings.
Protective Security
Serves as a social safety net for preventing the affected
population from being reduced to abject misery and death.
Protective security includes fixed institutional arrangements
such as unemployment benefits and statutory income
supplements, as well as ad hoc arrangements such as famine
relief or emergency employment to those needy.
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Figure 3.1 A Framework for analysis of development based on Sen
3.3.2 Strengths and Criticisms of the Capability Approach
Sen’s writings have sharply criticized the primary assumption of the economic
approach, that all people have the same utility functions or are influenced in the same
way by various personal, social, and environmental characteristics. A key strength of
the capability approach is its emphasis on human diversity, such as race, age, ethnicity,
gender, sexuality, geographical location as well as whether people are handicapped,
pregnant, or have other caring responsibilities. “The capability approach emphasizes the
plurality and heterogeneity of the lives human beings lead or have reason to value, and
the need to account for this diversity in measuring individual and societal advantage”
(Srinivasan 2007, pag. 460). In addition, “it has become a theory for evaluating
individual well-being and social arrangements, as well as for guiding policy design, and
its influence extends welfare economics, social policy, political philosophy and
development” (ibid, 459).
The capability approach has a distinct dimension in emphasizing individual capability to
do things a person values. Individuals need to have legitimate rights to choose and
prioritise capabilities, the lives they have reason to value, and effectively participate in
collective decision making that impact upon their capabilities, and individual freedoms.
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“The exercise of freedom is mediated by values, but the values in turn are influenced by
public discussion and social interactions, which are themselves influenced by
participatory freedom” (Sen 1999, pag. 9). Robeyns (2003) argues that individual
functionings and capabilities are dependent on institutional arrangements and each
person rather than households or communities, are taken into account.
The capability approach is not limited to the market, but focuses on peoples’ beings and
doings in both market and non-market settings (Robeyns 2003). Furthermore, the
capability approach is not restricted to poverty and deprivation analysis, but can also
serve as a framework for, say project or policy evaluations or inequality measurement
(Robeyns 2000). The capability approach is ultimately based on considerations of the
social good, and the moral question of what life should be like (Sugden 1993).
Notwithstanding its strengths, Sen’s capability approach has received also various
criticisms, notably with regard to practical applicability, in not providing a recipe or
methodology for its implementation (Robeyns 2000). It is described to be impossible to
formalise, such as in being able to compare capabilities or to empirically apply
quantitative techniques (ibid). There have been criticisms for it not prescribing a list of
functionings, and as such has been described as being incomplete (Nussbaum 1995,
1999, 2000, 2003; Williams 1987, Roemer 1996). Roemer (1996, pag.192) writes:
“Even, given functioning indices, Sen provides no equivalence relations on the class of
capability sets which would enable us to say one person’s capability is better or richer
than another’s”. As such the capability approach is said to be an ‘unworkable idea’
which cannot measure capabilities and actual functionings of an individual through
direct observation (Robeyns 2000).
The capability approach is also criticized for being too individualistic (Robeyns 2000;
Navarro 2000; Devereux 2001), and inadequate to accommodate tensions between the
commitment to individual freedom and the recognition those developmental outcomes
which sometimes result from collective actions, which can also restrict individual
freedom (Corbridge 2002). Robeyns argues that the capability approach needs a
complementary theory on the evaluative process in making inequality assessments: “But
every evaluative assessment, implicitly or explicitly, endorses additional social theories,
including accounts of the individual, social, and environmental conversion factors, and
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a normative theory of choice. We get quite divergent normative results, depending on
which social theories we add to the capability framework. If social theories are racist,
homophobic, sexist, ageist, Eurocentric, or biased in any other way, the capability
evaluation will be accordingly affected” (Robeyns 2003, pag. 67)
Another criticism is that the choices in the capability approach are too open, in the sense
that ‘all’ decisions of life are left to individual’s own choice, without any regulator to
deal with collisions due to interconnected choices (for example health and education)
both within and across groups of people. Deneulin is concerned that “public actions will
often have to be guided by the concern of making people function in one way or another
rather than by the concern for giving them the opportunities to function should they
choose so” (Deneulin 200520). Sen’s conceptualization of democracy has been criticized
for being “an idealistic one where political power, political economy and struggle are
absent” (Stewart and Deneulin 2002, pag. 63-64). Deneulin argues that “Sen takes a
consequentialist approach, offering little criteria for decision-making save that they are
‘democratic’ and helps to expand valued individual freedoms” (Deneulin 2003, pag.
18). Hacking (1996) sees Sen to put a lot of faith in some notion of fraternity, with a
focus on procedural aspects rather than on substantive equality in the political space
(Srinivasan 2007).
In response to these various criticisms, Sen has been reluctant to prescribe a recipe or
list of functionings, arguing that “it is better to be vaguely right than precisely wrong”
(Sen 1987b, pag. 6). Empirically, Sen has demonstrated the practical value of his ideas
in various settings. For example, by using GNP per capita and Life Expectancy at Birth
data of 1994 from a World Bank source, Sen (1999) argued that despite the GNP per
capita of Gabon, South Africa, Namibia and Brazil being 3 times higher than Kerala,
China and Sri Lanka, people in the latter group of countries and state (Kerala) enjoy
enormously higher levels of life expectancy than in the former group. This analysis
strengthened Sen’s argument that ranking based on GNP per capita is different from
that based on selected functionings, and should not be equated with living standards.
Lecture at the Faculty of Theology at the University of Leuven in April 2005.
- 42 -
This thesis takes the stance that the majority of the above criticisms are
epistemologically from a positivist research point of view. The approach adopted in this
thesis is interpretive, with a focus on the complexity of human sense-making processes
as the situation emerges (Kaplan and Maxwell 1994). An interpretive approach helps to
understand the context dependencies of capabilities, which lies at the heart of Sen’s
approach. This avoids: “Such a formulised prescription, and the process of coming up
with it, will be questionable given the vastly discrepant circumstances, conventions, and
social pressures that people face, and the potential danger of bias and distortion from
those doing the evaluation” (Zheng 2005, pag. 46). In summary, my adoption of an
interpretive approach has helped to respond to the various criticisms of the capability
approach not being prescriptive and to draw upon its inherent strengths. The context and
the investigator’s sense making guided the identification of capabilities to investigate.
The e-Government for Development Relation: An Analysis
based on Common Discussions
Historically, technology has been positioned by international agencies and
national governments as a driving force for economic growth (Solow 1957; Denison
1967; Mokhyr 1987; Rosenberg 1982; Scherer 1999), and with it development (OkotUma 2001). The World Economic Forum report (2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004) argues
that an economy cannot grow unless technological progress occurs, thus translating
development problems into technological problems. E-governance, a contemporary
form of ICT application, is also being positioned by interested actors (for example,
governments and donors) in the same vein, with governance problems being attributed
to technological backwardness (Ciborra and Navarra 2005). This assumed link between
improved e-governance and development has been criticized by various authors (Khan
2002; Wade 1990, 2002; Heeks 2002; Avgerou 2002) for various reasons including the
dependence on the basic market model that is seen to lie at the heart of e-government
The e-government paradigm seeks to replace the traditional bureaucratic paradigm,
departmentalization, hierarchical control and rule based management (Kaufman 1977)
with the so called competitive knowledge based economy requirements of flexibility,
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networking, vertical/horizontal integration, innovative entrepreneurship, and a customer
driven strategy (Ho 2002; Ndou 2004; Development Administration 2005) (see Table
3.2 which compares the characteristics of the e-government and bureaucratic
paradigms). The e-government paradigm wishes to reduce the role of the state, and
simultaneously encourage privatisation, outsourcing, markets, and the adoption of
techniques of new public management. The application of the e-government paradigm
assumes a well working market economy, whereby contracts can be enforced, property
rights made clear and stable, where there are few restrictions on competition, and
investors are confident because property rights are stable (North 1997). Such
assumptions embed the principles of a Western economic model, following which is
expected to help developing countries to leapfrog underdevelopment and attain the
status of developed countries. This thesis argues that the ‘design-reality’ gaps inscribed
in such an assumption is significant, especially viewed from the perspective of Sen’s
capability approach.
A key assumption inscribed in the e-government paradigm is that the power of ICTs
will lead the public sector to achieve operational efficiency, cost reduction, improved
quality of services, and learning (Ndou 2004). For example, online services can
substantially decrease the processing costs of various activities (Tapscoot 1996; Amit
and Zott 2001; Malhotra 2001), through streamlining and reducing the required time for
transactions (Ndou 2004). ICTs are also expected to integrate inter-departmental
operations by enabling faster and easier flow of information, reducing processing time
and paperwork bottlenecks, and eliminating long, bureaucratic, and inefficient approval
procedures. Such integration is expected to improve internal efficiencies and contribute
to development as defined within a market context (Ndou 2004).
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Table 3.2. Shifting Paradigms in Public Service Delivery (Ho 2002)
Bureaucratic paradigm
E-government paradigm
Production cost-effectiveness
User satisfaction and control,
Process Organization
Management Principle
Functional rationality,
Horizontal hierarchy, network
departmentalization, vertical
organization, information
hierarchy of control
Management by rule and
Flexible management,
interdepartmental team work
with central coordination
Leadership style
Command and control
Facilitation and coordination,
innovative entrepreneurship
Internal Communication
Top down, hierarchical
Multidirectional network with
central coordination, direct
External Communication
Centralized, formal, limited
Formal and informal direct ad
fast feedback, multiple
Mode of Service Delivery
Principles of Service
Documentary mode and
Electronic exchange, non face
interpersonal interaction
to face interaction
Standardization, impartiality,
Use customization,
E-government is linked to the idea of good governance, seen as a foundation of
development by addressing state failures due to governance breakdown, corruption,
distortions in markets and the broad absence of democracy (Ciborra 2005). For
example, e-government promises to offer new channels of participation and engagement
for citizens, and consequently the strengthening of democratic processes. Enhancement
of transparency, accountability, responsiveness and efficiency of the government are
some of the promises inscribed in e-government (Heeks 1999; Stiglitz 2000; Ndou
2004; Hirst and Norton 1998), but which still need to be established in empirical
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E-governance also seeks to redefine existing relationships of governments with citizens,
governments and business (Tappscott 1996; Hirst and Norton 1998) and create a virtual
state organized fundamentally over the web (Fountain 2001). This redefined
relationship now sees citizens as customers (Ferlie et al. 1996; Barzelay 2001; Deloitte
Research 2001), demanding efficient services within a market setting. Various
initiatives seeking to attain these aims are ongoing in many developing countries,
involving policy changes, institutional reform and active use of ICTs (Department for
International Development 2002; OECD 2003; UNDP 2003; Bellamy and Taylor 1998;
Osborne and Gaebler 1992; Ferlie et al. 1996; Barzelay 2001), all of which seek to
make the public system function like the private sector.
In summary, the tenets of e-government are driven by the economic market, good
governance, and modernization towards redefining the relationship of the government
with citizens, who get treated as customers. The e-government paradigm under these
tenets stands upon the economic growth philosophy of development and is heavily
advocated by international agencies as a condition for aid to developing countries. Egovernment for development under such tenets and policies runs the danger of
marginalizing basic human needs, notwithstanding the basic potential it does have to
contribute to development (Walsham and Sahay 2006). However, this link is not
empirically and conclusively established (Morawczynski and Ngwenyama 2007;
Ngwenyama et al. 2006; Avgerou and Walsham 2000), and remains a challenging
research endeavour on how the potential can be more completely realized. Sen’s
capability approach provides a rich avenue to undertake such an endeavour. This is now
discussed in the next section.
Previous Application of the Capability Approach in Information
Systems Research
The capability approach is gradually being applied in the domain of information
systems research, including e-government (eg. Madon 2004; Zheng 2005; De 2006).
Madon (2004) proposed the capability approach as a theoretical framework for
assessing e-government for development, arguing its potential in being limited to
techno-economic aspects such as the amount of expenditure in e-government projects,
physical infrastructure, access to technology, skills and training. From a development
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perspective, Madon argued the importance of emphasizing values and priorities
individuals have, and how e-government initiatives can help in their realization. Her
proposal emphasizes the need to examine the range of applications implemented and the
functionings inscribed in them, the manner in which individuals use the opportunities,
and the barriers experienced in achieving functionings. Madon provides an example of
the ‘pay-bill’ system implemented in India which simplified the functioning of
communities in paying their bills, and contributed to capabilities such as empowerment
of people through reduced reliance on the government, and users expressing increased
satisfaction with the work.
Zheng (2005) argues the importance of ‘information culture’, defined as “the general
capability, views, norms, and rules of behaviour, with regard to accessing,
understanding, and using information in a social collectivity” (pag. 53), in the process
of furthering development. Taking the capability approach, she argues for a better use of
information resources relating to health care, for example, in keeping the public
informed about epidemic related information. This can help to prevent its spread, and
mitigate its serious consequences. Based on an empirical analysis of the use of health
information in China and South Africa, she argues for improving access to such
information, driven not from a market perspective but based on its value in enhancing
the opportunities of individuals to live a better life as they value. Furthermore, she
emphasizes the diversity of information sharing processes across cultures, and the
institutional conditions which shape it.
De (2006) challenged the gains people are actually receiving from an e-government
application (related to land records digitization in India) by contrasting findings based
on analysis through both the capability and project assessment approaches. Using the
project assessment approach, the system was described as a ‘success’ based on the
criteria of increased ease of use as compared to the manual system, reduction of time in
travel of applicants to interact with public servants, reduced errors in land certificates,
reduced bribes and improved record keeping. However, analyzed from the development
perspective on how the system has influenced the lives of almost 30 million people
living in the state of Karnataka, he found that success or failure could not be so easily
framed, since the impacts could not be explicitly related to changes in functionings and
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capabilities. For example, while farmers had better access to their certificates, by itself
this did not improve their ability to access credit from banks, which required showing
evidence of agricultural production. Transparency too was not a consequence, as only
farmers who had certificates were provided access to the system, and not those who
held manual documentation. The fact that many farmers had not heard about the system
and its legal implications was indicative of their lack of participation in the processes of
agenda-setting and the design of the system. The capability approach yielded the key
insight that the system had benefited the privileged land-owning farmers and not the
landless, something the project assessment approach had failed to highlight.
Based on Sen’s capability approach outlined earlier and an analysis of its application in
IS research, I propose a conceptual framework which is built upon the following
1) Prior studies on e-government have primarily treated technology as a black box,
emphasising separately the socio and technical elements. This thesis takes the view that
the technological component of e-government is inseparable from the social-political
aspects. In treating this interconnection in a holistic manner, the concept of sociotechnical network is used;
2) Literacy is a fundamental aspect of the capability approach and has direct
implications on issues such as participation and transparency in e-government. It is thus
included as a key aspect of my proposed conceptual framework;
3) Learning across e-government projects that have been initiated in different public
sectors and also within the same sector can help to understand how implementation can
be made more effective by drawing upon best practices and avoiding worst practices;
4) E-government is fundamentally about creating new formulated rules that are
intended to make social development possible, and dealing with existing ones that may
impede reform efforts.
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Proposed Building Blocks for the e-Government for
Development Conceptual Framework
The above observations serve as the building blocks of my conceptual
framework to operationalize the capability approach in e-government. These building
blocks are individually described in the following sections.
3.6.1 E-government as Socio-technical Network
E-government applications represents a complex socio-technical network that
seek to provide information and services at various levels of governance (international,
national, local), and comprises of various inter-connected elements (illustrated in Figure
4.2). Broadly, these components include: 1) users (citizens, business, government
departments, employees and other community members); 2) various technological
components such as computers, network infrastructure, mobile phones, call centres,
kiosks, and the standards and protocols that glue them together; 3) software applications
including databases, portals and websites. In addition, there are a variety of other sociotechnical and institutional components, which are schematically depicted in Figure 3.2
E-Government Socio-technical Components
Call centers
Other digital
ICT Devices
Public Sector
Many Others
Page 1
Figure 3.2 E-government socio-technical components
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Prior research on e-government, for example, Madon (2004); Ciborra (2005); Ciborra
and Navarra (2005); De (2006) and Zheng (2005, 2007) have tended to treat the
technological component of e-government in general terms, as a ‘black box’ without
unravelling its various components and their inter-connections. Such an approach is
limited as it masks the understanding of how the different socio-technical components
are implicated in enabling or constraining the e-government application to meet
development goals. For example, De (2006) described through his empirical study that
the e-government application had not contributed to social development, but did not
specify which elements had adversely contributed to this. Furthermore, De argued that
the e-government application did not improve participation. However, he did not trace
whether it was the technical or institutional conditions that contributed to this.
Applying socio-technical perspectives on e-government, it is argued, helps to take a
more integrated approach and avoid some of the pitfalls described above. For example,
the Information Infrastructure perspective in combination with Actor Network Theory is
commonly used in the IS field to analyze various technology implementation related
aspects, from conceptualization to use. In addition, socio-technical perspectives offer a
balanced way of allowing impartial treatment of the contributions of both technical and
non-technical components and how they interact and influence each other, by assigning
to them equal amount of agency. Although the capability approach emphasizes the
social aspects over the technical, Amartya Sen recognises that the expansion of ICTs,
most notably the Internet, as well as the availability of information through new media all these make a contribution to advance the pursuit of democracy and participation (Sen
2004). Therefore this thesis argues the need to discuss equally the role of both technical
and non-technical aspects in development initiatives. For this, I draw upon concepts
drawn from information infrastructure theory.
Information Infrastructure theory, which is a perspective where technology cannot be
separated from social and other non-technological elements, is commonly defined as
being shared, evolving, open, standardized and constituted of a heterogeneous installed
base (Ciborra and Associates 2000; Hanseth and Monteiro 1998; Hanseth 2002). Egovernment is installed based – implying that they do not start from scratch and new
systems are built upon existing procedures, work practices, organizational structures
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and institutions. Heterogeneity implies that an II contains a large number of components
of multiple sorts, including diverse technological and non-technological components
running over determined and also emerging standards. The non-technical elements in egovernment concern various issues such as institutional procedures to define the use
conditions, and how the same technological platform (for example, the Internet) can be
shared in order to materialize development objectives. An II is open in the sense that
there are no borders regarding the number of elements it may include, a feature that
supports its growth (Hanseth and Lyytinen 2004). In addition, an II evolves over a long
period of time, increasing in scope to include a wide range of (not pre-determined)
activities and components, thus attracting a large shared community of users and
stakeholders (Hanseth and Monteiro 1998; Ciborra and Associates 2000). For example,
Krishna and Walsham (2005) report the experience of an e-government project for
computerization of the registration department in Andhra Pradesh, India – CARD,
which was initiated in 1998 in one single registration office and then evolved to 387
offices by the end of 2003. Similarly, they report from the same state another egovernment project - e-Seva (a bill-paying system) implemented in one center in 1999
and then gradually spreading to 36 centers and also diversifying in the kinds of services
offered, such as IT education and training courses (Krishna and Walsham 2005).
In contemporary IS research, the II concept is being drawn upon to analyze complex
networked systems such as health information systems (Braa et al. 2007, Braa et al.
2004), telemedicine (Aanestad 2002, Aanestad et al. 2003), and Spatial Data
Infrastructures (SDI) (Georgiadou et al. 2005, Aanestad et al. 2007). Recognizing that
poor health information seriously hampers social and economic development in
developing countries, Braa et al. (2007) provide a strategy to standardize health II. The
authors develop a perspective on health II, in its broader sense, meaning the
technological and human components, networks, systems, and processes that contribute
to the functioning of the health sector in general through the provision of accurate,
relevant and timely information. For example, health II in developing countries are
constituted of health facilities both small and large, managed by overlapping
institutional bodies, organized into geographic areas and vertical programs and services,
running under global and national policies, including around health information (Braa et
al. 2007). While establishing such socio-technical networks to enable sharing helps to
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broaden the capabilities of people and institutions to reach developmental goals,
establishing it is a far more complex and long-term process (Aanestad 2002, Aanestad
et al. 2003).
SDIs are theorized by Georgiadou et al. (2005) as IIs, and are also important in social
development. Aanestad et al. (2007) discusses SDIs and its usefulness for the public
sector, for example, for monitoring and controlling infectious diseases. However,
developing SDIs to increase efficiency, transparency and equity in developing countries
is a complex if not daunting project (ibid). For example, since an II involves various
entities and their varying interests, potentially, there is the lack of control of any single
entity. II as an approach provides not only the possibility to unpack the elements down
to their empirical constituents (Ciborra and Associates 2000) but also to understand
strategies and approaches on their practical deployment (Ciborra and Associates 2000;
Hanseth 2002; Georgiadou et al. 2005).
This thesis argues that conceptualizing e-government applications as socio-technical
information infrastructures allows one to understand the interlinkages between various
elements, and their linkages to developmental outcomes of participation, transparency
and responsiveness. Most developing countries, as in the case of Mozambique, follow a
very hierarchical governance structure in which most decisions, for example, related to
planning the health sector (Macueve 2003) and urbanization are typically taken without
the active participation of citizens. E-government provides the promise of redressing
this imbalance, an outcome which needs to be empirically established.
Viewing e-government as a socio-technical network can enable us also to understand
and evaluate participation through electronic means, not only focusing on issues of
access and convenience. Aspects of culture, history and politics can also be
meaningfully incorporated into the analysis of participation taking such a perspective.
Consequently, this can help to understand how the dynamics of the engagement of
people in everyday social life can influence participation in e-government, and the
materialization of their effective implementation. For example, the Land Management
System can technically be seen as providing an opportunity for effective two-way
communication on land issues between the government and citizens involving both
electronic and traditional means of communication.
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These channels of communication can potentially enable citizens to electronically make
a follow up of their land tenures, register grievances and track their progress. In
addition, the installed base of history such as levels of literacy and the culture of
participation more broadly, significantly influence the uptake of such an application. As
a result, the e-government application can undermine the ability to participate, the very
characteristics it seeks to promote. For example, the application requires various
institutional arrangements to function effectively, that are not yet available in most
developing countries. These impediments include aspects such as, telecommunications,
laws, literacy, economic wealth, confidence and trust. For example, according to UNDP
(2007), in most developing countries, less than 10 in 1000 people are Internet users;
more than 50% live under 2USD per day, and consequently cannot afford access to
Internet. In addition, a study about trust between citizens and government (Blind 2006)
shows that more than 60% of people are dissatisfied with their government, which
reduces peoples’ participation in broader socio-political processes (Avgerou et al.
2006). Therefore, institutional arrangements have to be created to help overcome these
barriers which can potentially constrain e-government. Nonetheless, freedoms,
capabilities and functionings are important too in order to strengthen e-government.
3.6.2 Literacy
Historically, literacy has been interpreted by researchers as the basic ability to
read and write and comprehend (Henri and Bonanno 1999). However, the needs of
society at any point in time determine how a society interprets a concept. The arrival of
print technology heralded the need for skills in reading, writing and comprehension.
UNESCO21 in the 1950s provided an interpretation of literacy as being “the ability
required to use print to function in everyday life” (Harris and Hodges 1995, pag. 142).
Given the context of e-government and the theoretical approach relating to capabilities,
in this thesis I define literacy as the ability to read, write and use print to function in
order to enhance the more effective use of the opportunities provided by e-government
applications. This in turn should help to expand individual capabilities and freedoms,
and contribute more broadly to the country’s socio-economic development.
United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization
- 53 -
There exists a strong potential and mutually enhancing relationship between Sen’s
capability approach and literacy, since literacy increases opportunities for human wellbeing (Annan 2005), and its absence is a cause of unfreedom to this end. Sen has
examined how literacy expands human freedom and capabilities, and alters peoples’
opportunities in leading their lives. He argues that development of literacy precedes
economic development and not the other way around (Sen 1999). For example, Japan,
South Korea, and other Asian countries had economic growth following large
investments being made in literacy (Sen 1999). Decreasing rates of illiteracy
contributed largely to poverty reduction in Kerala (Drèze and Sen 1995). Enhancement
of literacy improves other social aspects that can also contribute to development (Sen
1999). For example, Sen showed that the enhanced education and literacy of women
tended to reduce the mortality rates of children in Kerala (Drèze and Sen 1995).
Literacy, according to Sen is vital in finding employment, understanding legal rights,
overcoming deprivation and raising the political voice of underdogs. Also, educating
women could sharply reduce fertility and child mortality rates, limit family size, and
increase their input into family decision-making processes.
Literacy can be defined on a number of levels. Commonly, basic literacy is understood
as the capability to read and write (Edinburgh and Chambers 2003, pag. 1856). A range
of disciplines have provided various perspectives of literacy. In education, basic literacy
means traditional ‘literacies’ of learning how to read, write, and perform numeric
calculations and operations (Lau 2006). These ‘literacies’ in almost all societies are
learned in basic and secondary formal education. In development literature, there is the
additional concept of functional literacy, which is the capability to read and write well
enough to function in everyday life (SIL International 199622).
With the development of ICTs, literacy passes from the traditional capability to read,
write and communicate, to a mode which includes ICTs, often called ICT literacy. ICT
literacy is defined by O’Connor et al. (2002) as the capability of using digital
technology, communication tools, and/or networks to access, manage, integrate,
evaluate, and create information in order to function in contemporary society.
Concurrently, other related ‘literacies’ to ICTs are discussed in the IT field such as
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digital literacy (Gilster 1997, pag.1), computer literacy, media literacy, e-literacy and
information literacy.
While each literacy has an intrinsic value in the achievement of development aims, in
the field of IS, and e-government in general, literacy has seldom been explicitly
discussed, and if at all, it is superficially mentioned as being a challenge (e.g Heeks
2003, Ndou 2004) without being empirically investigated. In addition, few empirical
cases have been conducted in this regard, with certain exceptions like Zheng (2005)
who investigated the issue of information literacy in e-government for development.
3.6.3 Learning inter-projects
Generally, learning is defined as the capability of acquiring knowledge,
attitudes, or skills from study, instruction or experience (Miller and Findlay 1996) in
order to address daily problems or unfreedoms such as hunger. In the context of this
research, learning is the capability of acquiring knowledge, attitudes, or skills from
experience which concerns the building of local and effective solutions in the
development of e-government applications that can contribute to socio-economic
growth processes.
Amartya Sen does not discuss the concept of learning in the capability approach
explicitly as he does for example with literacy. However, in his speeches, it is found
that he often contemplates the role learning from experience in the capability approach.
For example, he says that institutions like the World Bank and the IMF through time
and experience, and a process of trial and error have learnt to develop policies suited for
the advancement of an agenda of human development. He adds that institutions, like all
of us individually, also go through a learning process, some at one’s own expense and
some others at the expense of others (Sen 2004).
Sen also argues the need for across country learning. He writes that ‘we’ should learn
from countries like Japan, South Korea and other Asian countries who had raised their
economic growth trajectories following large investments made in literacy (Sen 1999).
The development of Asian countries, in Sen’s view, provides a model of development
based on learning from best practices. In addition, Sen argues that “The pace of
economic progress has been much faster in Asia than elsewhere in the world over many
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decades now. Not surprisingly countries have been learning from each other and
correspondingly adjusting their respective economic policies. For example, in the
economic changes made in India in recent decades, the experiences of countries like
China and South Korea, and going further back, of Japan, have had quite a considerable
effect. However, the process can be much further extended since there are still countries
in this region that are struggling with their economic progress. Lessons of scrutinized
experience can easily move across borders.” (Sen 2007, pag 12). Furthermore, Sen
(2000) stresses the development of Japan as model to be followed by other countries:
“Japan’s breakthrough into the world of industrialization and economic development
…is an irresistible source of learning and understanding about the nature of economic
development in general.”
The role of learning and literacy has historically been emphasized in Adam Smith’s
treatise on the Wealth of Nations, where Sen’s capability approach has some roots.
Nevertheless, learning from experience does not substitute literacy (Sen 2003)23 in the
capability approach.
Learning in general can occur in different forms and at various levels from individual,
team, project to organizational (Yeo 2005) and even countries. At the organizational
level, learning has been recognized as a key resource to be successful in business,
increase competitive advantage, innovation and effectiveness (Beeby and Booth 2000;
Jetter et al. 2006). In discussing e-government related to development issues, learning
across projects is important because it emphasizes a social process that determines how
public sector organizations formulates, adopts, initiates, and organizes attempts to meet
development goals (Jacobs and Cleveland 1999). Often, in most discussions,
development is conceived in terms of ends, while recently emphasis has also shifted to
the means of development, that is, on how to acquire development (ibid). This implies
that e-government installation per se do not guarantee development (Alampay 2006).
What matters are the actions of organizations and people once they are provided with
the opportunity of having an e-government initiative (ibid). Enabling learning across
projects involves the creation of a culture within organizations and individuals where
social learning is emphasized in equal terms with formal education.
Amartya Sen (2003). Retrieved 5th July 2008, from:
- 56 -
3.6.4 Structures – Formulated Rules
Structures in social analysis, according to Giddens (1984) are rules and
resources, or sets of transformation relations, organized as properties of social systems
(pag. 25). In this thesis, the focus is on the formulated rules in e-government. Egovernment implementation is inherently a social phenomenon, which requires an
understanding of the social actions, and the social structures involved. E-government is
not only about technology per se, and achieved efficiencies, it is also about the existing
structures, the new ones proposed, and how their interaction may both facilitate and
constrain the achievement of social development.
Giddens (1984) distinguishes between two sets of rules in social systems, the ‘rules of
social life’ and the ‘formulated rules’. While ‘rules of social life’ are techniques or
generalizable procedures applied in the enactment/reproduction of social practices, the
“formulated rules” are those that are given verbal expression as cannons of law,
bureaucratic rules, rules of games and so on (pag. 21). However, rules in general
possess constitutive (constitution of meaning) and regulative (sanctions) properties
(pag. 19-20). Also they impinge upon numerous aspects of routine practice and can be
characterized as: intensive or shallow; tacit or discursive; informal or formalized; and
weakly or strongly sanctioned (pag. 22).
In this thesis, I discuss formulated rules as important building blocks of e-government
for development. Giddens cites mathematical formulas as ‘formulated rules’. In the case
of formulas, he stresses that this does not mean social life can be reduced to a set of
mathematical principles, but that the formula provides a rule for how to carry on in any
given situation. Likewise, the e-government legal framework composed of rules such as
decrees, strategies and laws provide methodological principles and procedures for
action of how to achieve development and what practitioners should do for that. It is
argued that, a country becomes ready to adopt e-government when there is an existence
of an enabling legal framework encompassing a range of issues in e-government
(Bhatnagar 2004). Obstacles in legal framework may hinder the implementation and
progression of e-government implementation process and results (Caine 2004).
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In most cases, in the context of developing countries, these legal structures recognize
the importance of information technology in economic and social development,
facilitate the use of electronic transactions in the country; promote business and
community confidence in the use of information technology; and enable businesses and
individuals to use electronic communications in their dealings with government
(Government of Kenya 2002).
Sen’s application of legal framework in the capability approach can be found in
discussions about the market performance and the role of public action in eliminating
deprivation and expanding freedoms. Drèze and Sen (1995) argue that the performance
of the market is highly contingent of an adequate legal framework to redistribute
policies. Regulated markets enforce legal safeguards, arbitration procedures, quality
standards and the protection of intellectual property rights which can increase
opportunities to conduct fair business for all.
After discussing individually each concept of the framework, I present an integrated
perspective in the form of my proposed conceptual framework.
Proposed Conceptual Framework
Based on the above discussions, I now propose an integrated perspective (see
Figure 3.3) and an explanation of conceptual inter-linkages.
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Figure 3.3 E-government for Development as a socio-technical network and the main building blocks
Literacy and e-government
In the context of e-government for development, literacy is important if not
fundamental for people to enjoy the potential that e-government can offer, and help
materialize e-government applications to support socio-economic development.
Currently, public debates, contests and opportunities to express demands and opinions
are being leveraged through various kinds of e-government applications. However, for
enabling involvement in these new ways of governance, different literacy capabilities
are required. Paradoxically, literacy is often assumed as given while planning for the
implementation of e-government applications, which is often not true and which
contributes to the further marginalization of already deprived populations.
Literacy can be viewed at different levels and types. Some examples relate to basic,
functional, scholarly, critical, business, traditional, network, environmental, cultural,
moral, digital, information, e-literacies, so on and forth. Here, in this thesis I discuss
literacy at two levels: at the level of the users or the beneficiaries of e-government
applications; and, at the level of the government providers of services.
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At the first level of beneficiaries, literacy is defined as the ability to read, write and use
print to function in order to comprehend and use e-government applications. This
capability is defined at the individual level while encompassing a number of
components related to basic skills and functionings, for example in interpreting maps
concerning land registration, and financial figures concerning the utilization of public
assets. Currently through web-based financial applications, it is possible to access
selected government financial reports and to be able to provide your opinions on them.
These reports often illustrate how governments have conducted public expenses in
health, education and other sectors. But, for one to meaningfully understand these
reports and participate related public discussions, an individual needs a set of literacy
functionings such as related to numeracy, mathematics, statistics and accounting.
Further access to the web and skills to use the technology are needed in order to not get
excluded from these discussions. Without participation, the e-government aims of
transparency can never be effectively realized in practice. Similarly, e-government
applications on land registration require special spatial skills of reading a map, for
example, in order to locate where your house is situated.
Literacy is also important at the level of providers of e-government applications, and
can be defined as the ability to use print and computer technologies in an effective
manner. There may be more advanced skills at play here relating to computer literacies
(such as networking, databases, and web technologies). The skills required for those
who develop the applications are different from those who use it to provide
informational services to the citizens or other government departments. While in the
first case, there are specific skills needed around programming languages, databases,
operating systems etc., in the latter case, there is a need for an understanding of the use
of domains such as land registration or environmental impact assessment and
categorization of people below the poverty line.
Lack of literacy capabilities prevents governments, particularly in developing countries
to provide proper applications for the citizens. Heeks (2003) found that more than 80%
of e-government initiatives for development in developing countries are failures.
Amongst many reasons, poor computer literacy is an important determining factor.
Further, the absence of detailed domain knowledge which the applications seek to
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address, contribute to systems being developed with large “design-reality” gaps, and
leading to their failure. Other than the adverse consequences of illiteracy and
innumeracy, these are in themselves forms of insecurity (Sen 2002)24, depriving people
of participating in various opportunities that may be offered to them in life. However,
illiteracy/literacy has been inadequately discussed in the e-government arena, and their
existence is often taken for granted.
This thesis argues that for e-government to contribute to social development in
developing countries there is a need to warrant special attention to literacy, in terms of
the various dimensions that it underlies, and how that relates to different groups of
people who either develop or use e-government applications.
Though the role of e-government in raising literacy is not included in the scope of this
research, scholars and institutions such as UNESCO (2006) argue that e-government
implementation has the potential to raise levels of literacy in the population. For
example, through online efforts, literacy programmes such as distance education, people
who are not covered by mainstream classroom educational programmes can be
benefited. Such initiatives need to be accompanied by legal frameworks (formulated
rules such as of accreditation) that support or recognize distance education and facilitate
acquisition of equipment for such purposes (for example, deduction of taxes of ICT
equipment acquired for distance education).
Learning and e-government
Contrary to many e-government discourses where learning is restricted to elearning, referring to any electronically (eg. computer and Internet) assisted instruction,
in this thesis, learning is seen as both, an opportunity and a process enabling
development. Focusing on e-learning encapsulates and may also mask important
learning processes which can allow expansion of freedoms and take place in egovernment implementation. Learning in e-government is here seen not to occur only
through electronic assisted instruction, but also through non-electronic means and
consequently achieving complementary effects related to literacy and development.
Specifically, I discuss learning across e-government projects (mainly within system
Amartya Sen’s speech for the International Literacy day in 2002 held at UNESCO’s Paris Headquarters
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development teams, managers and e-government practitioners), as a means to achieve
development objectives by drawing upon prior experiences.
This thesis asserts that learning through experiences across e-government projects
within the same context is crucial to ensure similar mistakes are not repeated and a
cumulative tradition of learning can be nurtured. Given that e-government experiences
are not isolated, there is no need to completely reinvent the wheel, and efforts are
needed to ensure that learning occurs across the same context be it within or across
countries. This thesis takes the assumption that although concurrent projects may be
taking place in different fields (education, health, finances), they are shaped by some
similar aspects of the context such as rules, culture, economic environment and policies,
which potentially allows learning to occur. For example, scaling of an IT project
enabled within an education sector project can provide implications for a health related
IT project. Conditions influencing the failure of e-government projects (Heeks 2003)
identified by various researchers have pointed to similar issues such as the existence of
poor physical infrastructure, scarcity of qualified human resources, and the transfer of egovernment models from the West to the South, without proper customization to the
local development needs. Furthermore, many e-government initiatives are taking place
within the same country, and often as each new initiative is started, there is a tendency
to ‘reinvent the wheel’, rather than learning from experiences of previous or concurrent
projects (Prusak 1997). Learning from other experiences could potentially increase the
opportunities of e-government projects to succeed and overcome implementation
In addition, learning can help also e-government projects to reduce costs through
reusability of other project experiences, and reducing the probability of making the
same mistakes. As a process, within the social learning theory, learning across projects
represents a cycle that starts with a concrete experience, providing an opportunity for
observations, reflections and applying the evaluation of results (Kolb 1984). Such
learning can take place through various mechanisms, such as enabling talking between
people representing different projects, observing others, trial-and-error and simply
working with others. More broadly, this requires the development of the capability of
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sensing things to be learnt, being open for changes and to be able to integrate what is
already known into the everyday practices of project implementation.
This thesis proposes the need for the enhancement of intra and inter-communication
(formal and informal) mechanisms in e-government projects to enable sharing of
experiences and best practices. It believes that e-government applications and embedded
ICTs have great potential towards achieving this goal. Kraut et al. (1990) argue that
projects need to communicate with each other to accomplish their goals, which however
requires appropriate institutional arrangements (Sen 1999) such as regular inter-project
meetings. Coordination between projects (Blau and Scott 1962) can also enhance formal
communication, which requires the dissemination of appropriate information to the
concerned people (Daniel 2007) through both formal and informal means (Kraut et al.
In summary, the focus on learning in this thesis concerns the sharing of experiences and
best practices across projects with a view to learn from the past and to not make the
same mistakes. Understanding the mechanisms through which these can be enabled
remains the practical challenge. Learning is seen as complementing literacy, through
which new skills based on experience and best practices can contribute to the effective
relationship between e-government and development. The lack of regulation within
projects that draw explicitly on the need for interchange of experiences with others can
constrain the learning process. In turn, knowledge gained through learning from
experience can inform, reinforce and feed these regulations explaining how it can take
place and aid the development of standard operating procedures to enable the same.
Formulated rules and e-government
The legal framework in e-government which is composed of formulated rules
such as e-government laws, decrees and strategies shape e-government implementation
for development. The legal framework provides a set of guidelines of what practitioners
should do and creates a common understanding of the aim of e-government and the
respective initiatives. In the case of developing countries, the aim is often to contribute
to development through the introduction of electronic means. The legal framework
provides a template within which the actions and interests of different stakeholders can
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be brought together to ensure a common orientation that makes increments of action by
various stakeholders consistent and compatible with the desired long-term goal of
democracy, good governance and sustainable development. For example, the egovernment strategy offers the country’s vision, aims of its implementation and priority
areas in the country’s development, as in the case of Mozambique the priority in the
field of e-government is to build a common platform of communication for the whole
public sector, which serves as means for development. The legal framework also
formulates sanctions in e-government actions which do not lead to social development.
In development initiatives the legal framework can serve as a protector and regulator
instrument (Drezé and Sen 1995) of various agencies involved. However, such
structures consume time and other resources which may delay the e-government
implementation process.
A regulatory framework is also needed in order to enable secure information exchanges
within government and between government, citizens and businesses. It is also needed
to create the economic conditions to create accessible ICTs infrastructure and services
(Misuraca 2007). Lack of such facilities prevents people in developing countries to have
a better life which can allow them to participate in decision making, enjoy transparency,
better services and good governance in general.
Furthermore, laws can ensure that there are no barriers of putting information and
services online, legal validity of electronic documents, interoperability and the right of
citizens to access government information. The legal issues that e-government planners
may have to address include the rights of the public to access government records;
privacy and security obligations.
Laws are also important in shaping literacy and learning in order to fulfill e-government
objectives, for instance in creating a common understanding of what should be
compulsory in the education system to contribute for faster development of an ICT
knowledgeable critical mass of young people. Laws can also help to regulate the trade
of ICT related equipment and Internet in order to benefit public servants and ordinary
citizens. For example, free tax payment could be offered for such groups of people for
them so that ICT costs are not an impediment to acquire equipment and be engaged in
e-government. The majority of the Mozambican public servants access computers and
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Internet in their offices and not at home. Lack of incentives such as those of facilitation
in acquisition of ICT related equipment and Internet may constitute one of the reasons
for the same.
Given that laws in particular and structures in general are not static but dynamic
(Giddens 1984), and can be shaped by the environmental issues, the development of
literacy and learning can shape the regulatory framework, since new experiences and
knowledge is acquired. E-government can also help shape the existing laws. For
example, hierarchical communication protocols or formalities between managers and
their workers, or between citizens and public servants are changing with the
introduction of new means of communication such as email and mobile phones. In egovernment, documents (reports, requests, etc.) in electronic format from the public
servants at lower levels, do not pass through the secretary staff anymore, they are
directly channelled to the bosses through email. This contributes to some extent to
redefining the contours of the freedom of expression, important in the capability
In summary, e-government for development is in this thesis seen as a socio-technical
network with emphasis on the implementation of electronic applications aiming to
enhance people’s capabilities, functionings and opportunities for them to solve their
daily problems and lead decent lives. This thesis assumes that if we aim to implement egovernment to enhance people’s capabilities and freedoms, we should try to understand
the composition and behaviour of socio-technical networks. This will help us to draw
mechanisms to develop applications that are context-based and respond to the
development needs that are specific capabilities and freedoms that people need to lead
good life. In addition, we need to enhance the levels of literacy especially in the context
of developing countries, improve the learning mechanisms through sharing of
experiences from similar contexts and build appropriate regulatory frameworks to
support e-government initiatives and contribute to broad development objectives.
In conclusion, in this chapter, I have discussed Sen’s approach to development as the
underlying theoretical idea of this thesis. Further, I have discussed and suggested the
major conceptual components including literacy, learning and formulated rules that help
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to operationalize the capability approach in research. Following this, I move to Chapter
4 to describe the strategies and methods used to carry out this research on the ground.
- 66 -
V{tÑàxÜ G
Chapter 4 - Research Perspectives
This chapter describes the philosophical research perspectives underlying my
empirical research on e-government in Mozambique during the period from 2005 to
2007. I first describe the epistemological perspective in section 4.2. In the following
section, 4.3, I provide the methodological details organized in subsections of research
design and methods, research process, data collection techniques and modes of data
Epistemological Perspective
In this thesis, I took a non-positivist (interpretive) research paradigm, that starts
out with the assumption that access to reality (given or socially constructed) is only
through social constructions such as language, consciousness and shared meanings
(Myers and Avison 2002). Interpretive studies generally attempt to understand a
phenomenon through the meanings that people assign to them and in IS, are aimed at
producing an understanding of the context of IS, and the process whereby the IS
influences and is influenced by the context (Walsham 1993). In interpretive research,
there are no assumed predefined dependent and independent variables; rather there is a
focus on understanding the complexity of human sense-making processes as the
situation emerges (Kaplan and Maxwell 1994), and how inter-subjective processes are
shaped (Boland 1991; Walsham 1993).
In this study, I explored the process of implementation of three projects of egovernment, from the conceptualization stage up to the implementation (hands-on use),
through formal and informally collected sources of data. The exploration process
included being in the context, observing the roll out of the process, attending meetings,
listening to and analysing what stakeholders were saying about their experiences,
reading official government documents about e-government, and relating these
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empirical experiences with the concept of development. In the next section, I provide
details of the methodological perspective applied in this study.
Methodological Perspective
In social research, methodologies may be defined very broadly (e.g. qualitative
or quantitative) or more narrowly (e.g grounded theory or conversation analysis)
(Silverman 2005). This study was conducted using a qualitative research methodology,
as the aim was to understand the phenomenon within the context in order to develop
rich interpretive insights. In qualitative approach, the inquirer often makes knowledge
claims based primarily on constructivist perspectives (i.e. the multiple meanings that are
socially and historically constructed, with an intent of developing a theory or concepts)
or advocacy/participatory perspectives (i.e. political, issue-oriented, collaborative or
change oriented) or both (Straub et al. 2005; Creswell 2003; Myers and Avison 2002).
Qualitative research explores the richness, depth, and complexity of phenomena.
Qualitative research, broadly defined, means, any kind of research that produces
findings not arrived at by means of statistical procedures or other means of
quantification (Strauss and Corbin 1990).
This study examined ‘how’ human well-being can be attained through e-government
and what contextual aspects are involved in the process. Culture, literacy and history
were some of the contextual aspects investigated. According to Neuman (2003), the
researcher must understand the context of the situation and particular actions. In
addition, the study sought to understand from the different informants how they
perceived e-government with regard to development. Qualitative researchers study
things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of or interpret phenomenon in
terms of the meanings people bring to them (Denzin and Lincoln 2000, 2005). Although
the study is qualitative, quantifiable data was also used to explain some findings. For
example, the size of the population and some other socio-economic indicators were
studied to understand changes in development status. In the next section, the research
design and methods are presented.
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4.3.1 Research Design and Methods
This research took place in Mozambique over three years divided in three time
periods: May to August 2005, February to August 2006, and January to February 2007.
Such a study design was useful in making a follow up of e-government projects at
different points in time allowing me to track changes on development issues from the
conceptualization of the projects up to the use of the systems developed within the
Trauth (2001) lists factors influencing the choice of qualitative methods in IS research,
as being the nature of the research problem, the researcher’s theoretical lens
(surrounding epistemological issues), and the degree of uncertainty surrounding the
phenomenon (certain contingencies of the problem). Trauth (2001) has further argued
that the nature of the research problem should be the most significant influence on the
choice of methods. Accordingly, the motivation behind the choice of qualitative
research methods in this study were drawn by the fact that development is an
interdisciplinary and complex issue that requires the exploration of the context rather
than the use of formal methods. I see e-government for development as a sociotechnical system as it involves, for example, politics, culture and power relations. In
addition, the fact that e-government projects are new in Mozambique imparts a certain
degree of uncertainty of what aspects to emphasize in the research, making it more
suitable for the use of qualitative research methods.
This study included multiple-case-study sites (Yin 1994). Three e-government projects
were selected, as units of this multiple-case-study method. A case study approach was
chosen as it can help capture the reality in greater detail (Eisendhart 1989) and is
suitable in a situation where the boundaries between the phenomenon and context are
not clearly evident (Yin 1994). According to Walsham (1993), case studies provide the
main vehicle for research in the interpretive tradition. As a result, the researcher may
gain a sharpened understanding of why the instance happened as it did, and what might
become important to look at more extensively in future research (Flyvbjerg 2006).
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Multiple-case-study methods may be used for various reasons, including for achieving
replication of a single type of event in different settings, or to compare and contrast
different cases (Schell 1992). Multiple-case-study methods strengthen the results by
replicating the pattern-matching, thus increasing confidence in the robustness of the
theory (Amaratunga et al. 2001). The use of multiple cases helps to add confidence to
the findings (Miles and Huberman 1994) as it reduces the likelihood that findings
observed are due to the unique characteristics inherent in any one particular case
During my fieldwork in three provinces: Maputo, Sofala and Cabo-Delgado provinces, I
visited the provincial directorates of Agriculture and Finance. A large proportion of my
fieldwork was in Maputo, which is the political and economic capital, and houses the
head offices of the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Agriculture, DINAGECA and
UTICT. In addition, most national projects such as those of e-government, are decided,
designed, tested and used in Maputo and then scaled to other provinces. Practically and
logistically, being a resident of Maputo, it was easier and less expensive for me to
conduct my primary research there as compared to the provinces, which involved
extensive travel and the accompanying expenses.
In Maputo, I visited the head offices that are in charge of implementation of the land
system (DINAGECA), the finance system (Ministry of Finance) and GovNet (UTICT).
I also visited some ministries where e-SISTAFE was being used, such as the Ministry of
Education and the Ministry of Finance. At the province level, I visited the provincial
directorate of Agriculture in Maputo, Sofala and Cabo Delgado and the provincial
directorates of Finance at Sofala and Cabo Delgado. I visited the district directorates of
Agriculture in Maputo and the administrative posts of Maputo, Sofala and Cabo
Delgado to understand how the process of land registration works at the lower level of
the administration, even though there were no electronic systems installed yet, at the
district level and below. I also talked to ordinary citizens to understand the nature and
extent of benefits they were able to avail (or not) from the e-government services by the
government. Figure 4.1 summarizes the sites visited during my research. In the next
section, I describe my research process.
- 70 - Choosing the Case Study sites and the Research Process
In 2004, when I decided to do my PhD, I was clear that I wanted to investigate egovernment, as it was to some extent, a new phenomenon in Mozambique and thus
would be interesting to study its implementation process and evolution. However, I was
not yet clear what exactly to investigate in the domain of e-government. In the first
semester of my studies (autumn 2004), I started reading some material on egovernment, such as those by Richard Heeks, Subhash Bhatnagar and others, regarding
definitions, case studies from other countries, and e-government roadmaps. From this
research literature review, a theme I identified, concerned the challenges and
opportunities of e-government implementation in Mozambique. Yet, this research topic
was not mature. My first supervisor, suggested some specific courses on e-government
at the London School of Economics and Political Sciences and, in the following term, I
attended two courses there, on ‘E-government’ and ‘ICTs for Development’. These two
courses helped me to define my research area as ‘E-government for Development in
Mozambique: Challenges and Opportunities’.
With this theme in mind, I started to work on my research design, and specifically to
identify relevant research sites. I started to get general information on the subject,
through reading newspapers, listening to the radio, watching Television and slowly
getting more involved in the first e-government project in Mozambique: e-SISTAFE. I
initially got involved in this project as an academic member in 2003, in developing
training material on open source software (open-office) and training potential users of eSISTAFE (staff working in the organization where the system was to be implemented).
However, while this earlier involvement was inadequate from the perspective of my
PhD, it served as a useful starting point for my research as it sensitized me to the needs
of the user with respect to ICTs.
Earlier in 2005, when my second supervisor and I were writing my first paper on the
‘Challenges and Opportunities of e-Government Implementation in Mozambique’, I got
access to the first draft of the national strategy document, in whose development she
had been involved. This document was very useful to get insights on how the
government was linking e-government with the country’s strategies for development
and poverty alleviation.
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Though the theoretical foundations and the government vision of e-government
implementation in Mozambique seemed to be clear, the operationalization of the
empirical research was not clear cut for me. I had then three and half months left in
between my course work in London and my return to Oslo. I started then to investigate
e-SISTAFE informally, at that time the most publicized e-government project in
Mozambique. Later in May 2005, I submitted an official letter to the Director of the
SISTAFE’s project to ask for permission to investigate the implementation of the
project. He granted me permission to do so, assigned someone who would work with
me, and gave me the opportunity to attend meetings that were held at the Ministry of
Finance twice a week for the purposes of evaluation of the project’s implementation. In
this way, I started attending the meetings and conducting formal interviews. The
meetings were systematic but sometimes they were cancelled. Through the meetings,
and conversations with the assigned person, I could get access to the key informants and
also to formal and informal written material about SISTAFE, for example, the
conceptual model, laws and manuals of e-SISTAFE. Throughout this process, I could
also be closer to the dynamics around the development of the application. For example,
I attended several meetings where reports of testing the first versions of the application
were presented by the users.
During this period of fieldwork, I also attended one seminar for the students of the last
year of informatics in my department (Departamento de Matemática e Informática) held
by an ICT adviser on e-government implementation in Mozambique, who was also one
of the implementer of GovNet. I used this opportunity to make an appointment for an
interview with the adviser. In August 2005, I returned to Oslo. Nevertheless, the
material collected helped me to write two e-government related conference papers, one
about the believed benefits of e-SISTATE for economic development in Mozambique
and the second on the legislative challenges on implementation of e-SISTAFE.
Back to the fieldwork in February 2006, I found changes, for example, the casual nature
in which the e-SISTAFE meetings were conducted. I continued working with the person
that I was assigned to, who gave me progress status, but I could not do much direct
empirical investigation at the Ministry of Finance for various reasons. For example,
first, I had lost the network of people I knew in the previous period. Second, from the
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point of view of the person assigned to me, there was no need for me to interview
people like the systems developers, because managers had all the information I wanted
to know. Anyway, I did it informally. However, what really frustrated me was not being
allowed to attend one of the organization’s most important internal meetings held by the
Ministry of Finances where e-SISTAFE would be evaluated at the national level.
Although, I had an ‘official’ allowance to investigate e-SISTAFE, I was not allowed to
participate in this meeting. I thus lost a great opportunity to have an overall picture of
the implementation of the system, especially to hear the voices of the government users
both from the national and provincial levels regarding the system and their experiences
of use. Nevertheless, I continued investigating e-SISTAFE informally and formally in
some institutions. I also contacted again the advisors of ICT implementation in
Mozambique, but my overall empirical work was thin. Therefore, in the same period I
started investigating the electronic land management system.
In a meeting with one of the advisors of ICT implementation in Mozambique, I
questioned the status of the e-government flagship projects stated in the implementation
strategy document. I was informed of the people I should talk to with respect to each of
these projects. The first manager (Director of DINAGECA) I met, kindly opened doors
for me to investigate the concerned project and shared with me the vision of egovernment within DINAGECA and how he thought it is linked to the country’s
development. In addition, he explained to me how delicate the issue of land was, and
the criticality of the development of an electronic land management system in the
context of Mozambique. In addition, he provided me with two important instruments for
my research: the land law in Mozambique and the design model of the LMIS. With this
introduction, I started to visit and interview respondents at other sites where the LMIS
was being used, and the business process underlying the land registration system in
Mozambique. Therefore, visits at all levels of the land registration system where
thereafter conducted both on a formal and informal basis. I also continued to investigate
about e-SISTAFE. In the following section, I provide a more detailed description of the
research sites visited.
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4.3.2 Data Collection Techniques
Data collection in this thesis involved multiple modes of data collection (Denzin
1970) which helped methodological and theoretical triangulation (Denzin 1970, Kimchi
et al. 1991, Thurmond 2001). Data was collected through interviews as the main data
source. Observational techniques and archival research constituted secondary data
sources. The use of triangulation helps to decrease the investigator’s bias, increases
validity, and strengthens the interpretative potential of the study (Denzin 1970). I now
describe in detail each of the data collection techniques used.
Me and the land surveyors in
Pemba, Cabo Delgado province.
A user of LMIS in Beira, Sofala
A head of a “bairro”, me and ordinary
citizens in a process of land registration in the
locality of Matola Rio, Maputo Province.
Figure 4.1 Visited Sites
At the most basic level, interviews are conversations (Kvale 1996), a datacollection encounter in which one person (an interviewer) asks questions to another (an
informant) (Babbie 2001). Kvale (1996) defines qualitative research interviews as
attempts to understand the world from the subjects’ point of view, to unfold the
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meaning of their experiences, to uncover their lived world prior to developing scientific
explanations. Accordingly, the qualitative research interview seeks to describe the
meanings of central themes in the life world of the subjects. Patton (1990) identifies
three basic types of qualitative interviewing for research or evaluation: the informal
conversational interview, the interview guide approach (semi-structured), and the
standardized open-ended interview. Although these types vary in the format and
structure of questioning, they have in common the fact that the participant’s responses
are open-ended and not restricted to choices provided by the interviewer. A fourth type
of interview, the closed, fixed-response interview, falls in the realm of quantitative
interviewing, where the informant is asked to choose from a predetermined set of
response categories.
I primarily used the informal conversational interview, the interview guide approach,
and the standardized open-ended interview. The first two types were used on three
occasions: (1) in the earlier stages of the investigation; (2) when I started investigating a
new project and when I was introducing myself in a new research site; (3) after getting
insights to the research projects and sites, to collect data more systematically and
comprehensively. In the last period of my research, I used more standardized openended interviews, as I was to focusing on understanding specific details.
During my fieldwork, I interviewed in the various sites, people from different
backgrounds and roles within the implementation projects, helping me to gain and
collect different views about the same object (e-government). Table 4.1 summarizes the
details of the fieldwork conducted including people interviewed and the number of
interviews conducted.
Often the interviews were conducted on a one-to-one mode, but sometimes the
conversations took place over the phone and through email in order to clarify aspects
that were not clear in the face to face interviews. Some key informants were interviewed
more than once. Usually the interviews were conducted in the offices of the informant.
Interviews were not tape-recorded, but notes were taken on paper. Interviewing without
tape-recording helped me engage more with the informants, as the informants felt free
to talk and had no fear of what they were saying. However, during the analysis and
organization of data some information got lost due to inconsistent hand notes.
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Almost all the interviews were conducted in Portuguese, and only in some few cases the
interviews were conducted in the local language (changana). Questions in earlier
interviews were aimed at understanding the purposes of the applications, functionalities
and benefits expected and also the existing ways of doing work through the use of the egovernment applications. At the level of the managers, questions were aimed at
understanding how they felt the e-government projects were linked to the country’s
development priorities and the nature of their use. In the latter period of the research, as
the e-government applications were then in use, questions posed to the informants
related to specific transformations that the system had caused in their work
(improvements or not). This helped to evaluate to what extent e-government
applications were contributing or not to enhance people’s capabilities and freedoms and
consequently shape processes of development. The notes from the interviews were
compiled, organized and analysed later. Initially the research reports were provided to
the informants, but later it was stopped, as I felt it did not give useful feedback. The
interviews were often accompanied by observations, which I now describe.
The classic form of data collection in naturalistic or field research is observation of
participants in the context of their everyday settings. Observations are used for the
purpose of description - of settings, activities, people, and the meanings of what is
observed from the perspective of the participants. Observations can lead to deeper
understandings than interviews alone, because they provide knowledge of the context in
which events occur, and may enable the researcher to see things that participants
themselves are not aware of, or that they may be unwilling to discuss (Patton 1990).
There are several observation strategies available. In some cases it may be possible and
desirable for the researcher to watch from outside, without being observed. Another
option is to maintain a passive presence, being as unobtrusive as possible and not to
explicitly interact with the participants. A third strategy is to engage in limited
interaction, intervening only when further clarification of actions are needed.
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Total Interviews
From January to February 2007
LMIS Manager
Users of LMIS
Network Manager
Potential Users of LMIS
UEM (Teachers)
DINAGECA (National Level)
Provincial Directorate of Agriculture (Offices)
Provincial Directorate of Agriculture (Offices)
Locality head offices
Provincial Directorate of Finances
Provincial Directorate of Agriculture (Offices)
Provincial Directorate of Agriculture (Offices)
Ordinary Citizens
Provincial Directorate of Agriculture (Offices)
Provincial Directorate of Finances
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Potential Users of GovNet
Users of e-SISTAFE
Users of e-SISTAFE
Potential Users of GovNet
Potential Users of LMIS
History and Geography Teachers
Correios de Moçambique (National Post Offices)
Ministry of Finances
National Institute of Statistics (INE)
Ministry of Planning
Ministry of Education
Public Servants
Head of a “bairro”
Ordinary citizens
System’s developers
Head of the e-SISTAFE Development Dept.
Foreign Consultant at the Ministry of
Head of (e-SISTAFE) in the Ministry of
System’s Developers
Land Surveyors
Geographers (Graduate Students from UEM)
Post Officers
Land Register
District Directorate of Agriculture
Locality (3 de Fevereiro)
Ordinary Citizens
Ministry of Finances
Head of the Land Department
Land Surveyors
Provincial Directorate of Agriculture (Offices)
Matola Municipal offices
Director of DINAGECA
Land surveyors
DINAGECA (National Level)
ICT and Planning Advisor
Training and Certification Adviser
Head of the ICT Department
ICT and Planning Advisor
Accountants of the Financial Dept.
Head of the Financial Dept.
Ministry of Health
People Interviewed
Head offices of 4 departments
Head of ICT Dept.
Ministry of Finances
Ministry of Education
e-government in Mozambique and GovNet
From February to August 2006
e-government in Mozambique and GovNet
System Investigated/Topic Investigated
From May to August 2005
Table 4.1 Summary of the fieldwork
Evaluation of GovNet
Evaluation of e-SISTAFE
Evaluation of e-SISTAFE
Evaluation of GovNet
Evaluation of LMIS
Evaluation of Good Governance
Development and Implementation of GovNet;
Evaluation of LMIS
Use of GIS;
School Curriculum;
Development and Implementation of LMIS;
e-SISTAFE development and implementation
e-SISTAFE development;
Use of GIS;
School Curriculum;
Use of GIS;
Content of the Interviews
Experience with e-SISTAFE;
Experience with e-SISTAFE;
e-SISTAFE and Development;
Experience with e-SISTAFE;
Experience with e-SISTAFE;
e-SISTAFE and Development;
Experience with e-SISTAFE;
ICT strategy and policy
e-government in Mozambique;
ICTs and development;
GovNet Project;
ICT strategy and policy
e-government (projects) in Mozambique;
ICTs and development;
GovNet Project;
History of LMIS, aims and the implementation
Experiences with LMIS;
management process;
Experiences with LMIS;
management process;
Experiences with LMIS;
management process;
management process;
e-SISTAFE usage and experiences with;
Nr. Of Interviews
Alternatively, the researcher may exercise more active control over the observation, as
in the case of formal interviews to elicit specific types of information. Finally, the
researcher may act as a full participant in the situation, with either a hidden or known
identity. Each of these strategies has specific advantages, disadvantages and concerns,
which must be carefully examined by the researcher (Schatzman and Strauss 1973).
Observations in my case were very useful, as they helped me to gain data on peoples’
feelings, ideas, reactions, and their everyday actions. I could also see how the system
was working in practice, and the surrounding conditions, such as that of power supply
and transportation connectivity. According to the situation, I presented myself
differently. For example, while I was with normal public servants and ordinary citizens,
I did not tell them that I was a PhD student, as I felt I could observe people more closely
without them knowing this information. With university teachers and senior managers, I
presented myself as a PhD student which gave me more credibility. Notes of
observations and meetings were taken, and also in some cases, photographs.
Walsham (1995) distinguishes between the roles of the outside observer and the
involved researcher. While, the former role preserves more distance from the personnel
in the field organizations, the latter means being a member (maybe temporary), of the
group or of the organization. Within this set of possible roles, I developed my research
design more as an outsider, as it was logistically difficult to be a temporary member of
the organization.
Review of documents
Another source of information that can be invaluable to qualitative researchers
is the analysis of documents. Various documents were collected and reviewed to
understand e-government implementation in Mozambique. These documents can be
divided into 4 categories: poverty and development documents; statistical data; ICT and
e-government strategy plans; e-government project details and profiles of the research
sites. Table 4.2 shows some examples of the documents reviewed.
In the first category of documents, I was looking for information about the concept of
poverty in the context of Mozambique, plans and strategies drawn by the government to
overcome poverty. Documents within this category included the country’s Poverty
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Reduction Strategy Paper (PARPA), the Agenda 2025 and the Economic and Social
Plan (PES). The PARPA includes the commitment to the development of an aid policy
and it is acknowledged as the operational plan for the Government’s Five Year
Programme (Mozambique’s National Development Plan). The Agenda 2025 is a longterm vision for the country’s development, which informs the preparation of the
PARPA by setting broad general goals, and PES (every year the Government prepares a
constitutionally-required PES and its progress report - BdPES) is to guide
implementation of the Five-Year Program and the PARPA. Agenda 2025, the PARPA
II, the Five-Year Program and PES are broadly in line with the Millennium
Development Goals (MDG).
Within the category of Statistical data, I was looking for quantifiable data about people
living with various (un) freedoms and other related indicators. For example, I was
looking for the percentage of the Mozambican population with (or without) education
and email access, and other (un) freedoms and arrangements, in order to later
understand how harsh is poverty within the country.
Table. 4.2 Reviewed Documents
Document Category
Poverty and Development Documents
• Country’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper;
• Agenda 2025;
• Economic and Social Plan (PES)
Statistical Data
• Human Development Index;
• Country’s population senses;
ICT and e-government strategy plans
• ICT implementation Strategy;
• ICT for Development Programme;
• E-government Strategy for Mozambique;
E-government project details and research • Government Electronic Network (GovNet):
sites profile
Present and future;
• Conceptual Model of SISTAFE;
• Building
Management System Infrastructure for the
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ICT and e-Government strategy documents were revised in order to understand the link
drawn between the implementation of the ICT projects and poverty alleviation
strategies. Lastly, documents about project details were revised in order to gain
information of specific functionalities that each system provides in order to contribute
in development processes. Research site profiles were revised in order to understand
specific details of the context where the systems were being implemented.
Accessing government documents such as development strategies and e-government
implementation documents was important to understand the government’s vision of egovernment for development, and the government’s plans for materializing the vision.
In addition, it helped me to understand how my case studies were accommodated in the
country’s vision and plans.
4.3.3 Modes of Data Analysis
Bogdan and Biklen (1982, pag. 145) define qualitative data analysis as ‘working
with data, organizing it, breaking it into manageable units, synthesizing it, searching for
patterns, discovering what is important and what is to be learned, and deciding what you
will tell others’. The common thread is that all qualitative modes of analysis are
concerned primarily with textual analysis (whether verbal or written) (Myers and
Avison 2002). Analysis begins with the identification of themes emerging from the raw
data (Strauss and Corbin 1990). The goal is the creation of categories (themes) which
the researcher iteratively re-examines to finally translate into a story line that will be
read by others (Gadamer 1976).
Data analysis in this thesis was done through an iterative process, involving various and
simultaneous activities, starting from collecting relevant data, organizing, inter-relating
various sources of information, attributing meanings to the data, identifying main
themes, and building a readable story that could be published in conferences and journal
papers. My analysis included: (1) Collecting empirical data since 2005 from various
sources as described earlier and organizing them on the basis of the time of the
occurrence of the event and accompanying themes. In this way, I could construct a
history of how the e-government initiatives have evolved. Issues were identified and
evolved within the research process, for example, the theme of literacy was raised by all
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the project managers interviewed, who attributed project delays to this constraint. (2)
Parallely, while building themes, I tried to join the different sources of information on
the same topic. For example, along with the topic of literacy identified from the
interviews, I related what I saw in the fieldwork and also with what has been written in
various documents about literacy in Mozambique. This helped me to build stronger
arguments on the theme. (3) I subsequently built inter-linkages across the themes, for
example, how literacy was important in development initiatives. (4) I then related the
identified themes with the capability approach to develop theoretical inferences.
Writing the final story of my thesis was not a direct and simple activity, and it involved
formal and informal discussions with supervisors and colleagues, writing various
versions of the papers and refining them with each iteration. Comments from
conferences, article review processes were also very useful in building this thesis. In
addition, it required me to go back to the field to strengthen the data and make more
arguments, making the process continue until the final result. Meanwhile, I had to look
into the data through a selected theory. Walsham (1993) argues that empirical research
without theory produces a series of anecdotes, and the research aims to avoid this by
using theory both to guide the fieldwork carried out and to provide ways of synthesizing
and communicating the results. Therefore, theory provides a framework for the critical
understanding of a phenomena and a basis for considering how what is unknown might
be organized (Silverman 2005, pag. 99). In this specific thesis, I have used theory to
systematically explain my empirical findings and to further try and generalize them in
the context of developing countries.
While analyzing the data, my attention was focused on understanding how egovernment can contribute to development and what the main barriers constraining this
achievement were. Therefore, the themes that emerged in my data analysis were built
around the identification of the challenges and opportunities of e-government for
development in Mozambique. As a result, I developed papers discussing learning and
literacy as some of the major challenges of e-government for development. I also
developed a paper where I identified the opportunities that e-government provides to
contribute to the development process in Mozambique.
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The analysis of the empirical data contributed not only in developing various published
papers but also in drawing useful implications and recommendations for e-government
implementation in Mozambique, which are presented in Chapter 6.
In conclusion, in this chapter, I have presented the details of the epistemological and
methodological perspectives underlined in this study including the research process,
research methods, data collection techniques and modes of data analysis. In the next
chapter, I present a summary of the findings described in my research papers.
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V{tÑàxÜ H
Chapter 5 –
Research Findings
Research Articles Included in the Thesis
In this chapter, I present the findings from the research articles included in the
thesis (see appendixes). For each article, I reproduce the full reference and present a
summary of the article. In addition, I discuss how each article contributes to the broader
research questions posed in this thesis. An integrative summary and synthesis of the
findings of all the articles is presented. The chapter ends with a discussion of the
linkage between the research findings and the main theory used in this thesis (the
capability approach).
E-government for Mozambique: Challenges and Opportunities (Macome, E.
and Macueve, G. 2007). In e-Governance in Developing Nations Mishra, S.
and Mukherjee, A. (Eds), India, Hyderabad. Pag. 167-188.
This is a non-empirical paper that explores the different meanings, opportunities,
challenges and models of e-government implementation in general. It first situates the
reader within the global context of e-government, especially the paradigm of New
Public Management (NPM) which is seen to underpin most e-government initiatives.
The paper interprets issues around NPM in the specific context of Mozambique and the
national vision and strategy of e-government.
The main message of this paper is that e-government implementation in a developing
country like Mozambique is complex. Despite the undoubted potential that egovernment initiatives hold for addressing pressing development related problems, such
as related to poverty alleviation, there are challenges that need to be carefully balanced
during the process of their implementation. Implementation of e-government projects in
Mozambique as in most other developing countries, is not just concerned with issues of
automation, optimization, reengineering, transforming and improving the government;
rather it implies the re-building of society as a whole, including the mobilization of
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people to engage in addressing their basic and other needs in different ways.
Furthermore, it is argued that changes in an intricate e-government implementation
process should be carried out in an integrated manner rather than in isolation, which
typically involves redundancy in the use of resources. For example, implementing an egovernment application in a district requires the building of roads to access the district,
providing electricity facilities, installing software and hardware, and training and
educating people. Rather than different departments (say health and education) trying to
build this required infrastructure in an isolated manner, it would be more efficient and
effective to try to integrate efforts.
Theoretically, it is argued that the materialization of e-government in Mozambique
should not follow any prescriptive model such as the Legacy or Greenfield model, but
rather a hybrid of them reflecting the characteristics of the country’s context. The
Legacy model is applied in more developed countries seeking to inform and empower
the public sector with the use of ICTs and improve upon an existing level of service
delivery to provide the required satisfaction levels to the government. The Greenfield is
relevant for developing countries seeking to reform and enable their public sector
through the use of ICTs; establish standards for service delivery; and, facilitate
interactions with government (Selvanathan 2007). In the context of Mozambique, where
the government needs to improve the functioning of the public sector and satisfy the
demands of international donors as well, arguably a fusion of both the models may be
more appropriate than either one by itself.
The key contribution of this article is to depict the main challenges shaping egovernment in Mozambique, and the existing and future opportunities of such
applications. Further, practical implications to help leverage these opportunities have
been developed. For example, the article suggests the creation of wide institutional and
individual capacity-building programs to accompany e-government initiatives, and
efforts to create an informational culture where information is valued. In addition, the
article suggests the need to strengthen the political will and consensus to commit human
and financial resources on a priority basis. Furthermore, given that e-government is a
new phenomenon in the country, mechanisms to increase its awareness needs to be
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enhanced. Further, there is an urgent need to enhance the technology infrastructure and
support mechanisms to help develop appropriate technological solutions.
E-government for Development: A Case Study from Mozambique
(Macueve, G. 2008). African Journal of Information Systems;1(1):1-17.
In Mozambique, as in other developing countries, e-government is being
advocated for by various entities to catalyze development purposes. This paper, inspired
by the concept of development as proposed by Amartya Sen, analyses how egovernment for development should be theoretically understood. Empirically, this paper
draws upon the experiences of three case studies of e-government implementation in
This paper traces the trajectory of existing development paradigms, including that of
economic growth which has been dominant, but arguably has had minimal effects on
systematic poverty alleviation. Therefore, it is argued that Sen’s paradigm of
development centered on basic human capabilities and their freedoms is a more
appropriate lens within which to view e-government initiatives. Amartya Sen
conceptualizes development as freedom, consisting of the removal of the various
constraints that people suffer from, and the creation of peoples’ capabilities to exercise
their valued choices in life. Such a guiding perspective, I argue, can open up
possibilities to take the e-government agenda closer to achieve the ideals of
Sen describes development to have both constitutive and instrumental roles, with the
key instrumental freedoms for development being: political freedoms, economic
facilities, social opportunities, transparency guarantees and protective securities.
An empirical analysis of the three e-government projects taking place in Mozambique,
namely e-SISTAFE, LMIS and GovNet, firstly acknowledged the extremely important
role of such applications in a context where poverty is extensive and systemic.
However, a lot has yet to be done in order for these initiatives to fulfil the aims of
development as freedom. As of now, these systems do not encourage citizen
participation, transparency guarantees and protective security. Only some instrumental
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freedoms are provided, for example: GovNet offers some economic facilities by
providing information about business and social opportunities through the provision of
extensive information about the public sector; e-SISTAFE offers social opportunities
through the payment of salaries of the public servants on time. So, although, the
examined applications were reported as fostering development, they were arguably
missing various key elements of human development as theoretically conceptualized.
This article contributes to developing a theoretical understanding of the rationale of egovernment for development applications, and to also evaluate how it is attaining its
aims of supporting development.
E-government Implementation in Mozambique: Transferring Lessons across
the Public Sector (Macueve, G. Forthcoming). Accepted for the South
African Computer Journal.
Given that the implementation of ICT projects including for e-government in
developing countries is a complex process, this paper encourages the need to focus on
mutual learning across projects in different public sector settings.
The paper uses the concept of translation as the lens to analyse the experiences of two
projects in implementing a Health Information System and a Land Management
Information System in Mozambique, and how important learning could be shared
between them. The notion of translation is an important tool according to Callon and
Latour (1981, pag. 279) to understand “all the negotiations, intrigues, calculations, acts
of persuasion and violence, thanks to which an actor or force takes, or causes to be
conferred to itself, authority to speak or act on behalf of another actor of force”. In this
article, the process of implementation of both systems is described as it started,
developed and got (or not) stabilized.
The empirical analysis describes the process of translation to be non-linear across the
four moments (problematization, interessement, enrolment and mobilisation) of
translation identified by Callon. This article argues that the translation process is as
much cyclical as linear.
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A key finding around e-government implementation concerns the need for finding an
appropriate balance across the following two dimensions: 1) between the top-down
rhetoric of the politicians and managers and the constraints and requirements of the
bottom level users; 2) between action and research.
This article argues that in general, ICT projects within the public sector, in the context
of developing countries, tend to reflect an imbalance with the political issues being
emphasized over the technical. A better balance during the enrolment phase can for
instance help to gain both top political engagement and user involvement, which can
help provide the necessary demand-pull. Similarly, a balance between participatory
research and action, within the context of appropriate political timing can be more
effective than a primary focus either on action or on research.
In general, this article helps to draw implications for supporting the practical and
methodological approaches of e-government implementation. These implications are
related to cross-project learning, and the need for more sensitively adjusting
implementation processes to the characteristics of the context.
Conceptualization of e-Government as an Information Infrastructure: Case
Study from Mozambique (Macueve, G. and Macome, E. 2007). In ISTAfrica 2007 Conference and Exhibition, Cunningham, P. and Cunningham,
M. (Eds) Maputo, Mozambique, 9-11th May 2007.
This article uses the e-SISTAFE case to demonstrate that e-government is not a
homogeneous technology but rather a set of interconnected and intertwined
technological and non-technological elements. The Information Infrastructure concept is
used as a metaphor to understand the composition of e-government and its development.
The technical elements comprise of ICTs including computer networks built and
running over international communication standards like the TCP/IP protocols, FTP,
WAN and Open source software standards.
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The non-technical elements comprise of public sector users; an international team of
developers; the public sector reform process, other political and social conditions, and
good governance principles. For example, e-SISTAFE was designed on the basis of
international accounting and financial systems, built upon a heterogeneous installed
base of working practices, including local financial procedures, and formal laws.
Concepts of II are drawn upon in this article to elaborate on such interlinkages, and how
these gradually evolve over time. e-SISTAFE is open and interlinked to other systems,
such as banking systems and payroll. The bank systems and e-SISTAFE support each
other, for example, in the delivery of currency to support the e-SISTAFE functions. In
addition, the bank also supports all e-SISTAFE bank transactions. In case the bank
systems or e-SISTAFE run into a technical failure, thousands of public servants will
have no salaries.
Practical implications that arise include the challenges of its
development; for example, changes cannot be made in isolation as it has multi-level
interconnected influences.
Given the nature of its use, e-SISTAFE necessarily needs to be open and evolve
gradually, representing characteristics of an II rather an IS that represent more
standalone configurations. For example, modules of e-SISTAFE are released in parts,
and slowly extend to different groups of users. E-SISTAFE is currently functional at the
national and provincial levels, with plans to extend it to the district levels and also other
groups of users covering also additional functionalities.
This article contributes in developing a more nuanced understanding of the technologies
underpinning e-government applications through the II perspective.
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Development: A Case Study of e-Land Management Information System in
Mozambique (Macueve, G. 2007). In e-Challenges Conference and
Exhibition World Convention Centre, Cunningham, P. and Cunningham, M.
(Eds), The Hague, Holland, 24-26 October 2007.
This article explores empirically the role of literacy in the implementation of egovernment applications for development. Amartya Sen and other development
theorists have emphasized that for a nation to develop, it needs to have a literate
population, without which development efforts will be adversely affected. The article
illustrates this in the context of implementation of a land management system in
The article argues that addressing the problem of poor literacy (for example, through
increased awareness) needs to be fundamentally tackled at multiple levels to make egovernment effective and positively contribute to development. Literacy thus is both an
important means and ends to development. While in e-government discussions, literacy
is taken for granted; lack of it prevents people to enjoy participation, transparency and
other good governance principles inscribed in e-government. In turn, these freedoms are
instrumental in achieving other kinds of social well-being.
The article divides literacy in the context of e-government into two major groups:
literacy of e-government users, which gives them the capability to explore the
potentialities of e-government applications; and literacy of the system providers, which
gives them the capability to deliver applications with functionalities that are valued by
people. Literacy thus can be seen as an important constituting theoretical concept to
understand e-government for development.
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Assessment of the Outcomes of e-Government for Good Governance: A
Case of Land Management Information System in Mozambique (Macueve,
G. Forthcoming). Accepted for the International Journal of e-Governance.
This article assesses a specific application of e-government, after 2 years of its
implementation in Mozambique. The framework of analysis is based on the principles
of Good Governance (participation, responsiveness, effectiveness, efficiency and
efficacy) as proposed by the UNDP. The article concludes that in the context of the land
management system studied, these principles have not been met. While these are
practically difficult to meet, it is argued that they should be kept as normative aims that
practitioners should strive for.
Further, it is argued that e-government cannot be expected to automate all processes, as
a large part of the associated knowledge is local and tacit. Therefore, there is the
important need to be sensitive about the kind of local knowledge in play, and how
through participation, attempts need to be made to include it into processes of system
design and development.
Another important methodological contribution is towards the assessment of egovernment applications based on interpretive approaches rather than the more
dominantly used positivist ones. An interpretive approach helps to understand various
aspects implicated in the implementation of e-government applications, which are often
hidden in positivist approaches such as the explanatory exploration of the ‘whys’ of a
certain phenomena. According to Walsham (1993, 1995), an interpretive approach gives
freedom to the researcher to make sense of the reality based on subjective and intersubjective interpretations. Such a perspective allows one to understand the phenomenon
beyond aspects of just the provision of technology and applications.
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A Structurational Analysis of the Process of e-Government Implementation:
A Case Study from Mozambique (Macueve, G. 2006) In Proceedings of the
2nd International Conference on e-Government, Remeny, D. (Eds),
University of Pittsburgh, USA, 12-13 October 2006.
Based on an empirical analysis of the implementation of an e-government project for
financial management in Mozambique, this article uses Structuration Theory (Giddens
1976, 1979, 1984) to interpret the dynamics of the implementation process. The paper
focuses on the structures of legitimation that emerge throughout the implementation
process, seen to be largely social in nature, specifically in terms of formal written laws.
Formal written laws being enacted are important in regulating the implementation
process that leads to social development, a process which is however, time consuming
and resource intensive. The contribution of this article is to identify the concept of
structures as an important theoretical concept for analyzing the e-government for
development relationship.
Following this brief summary of the individual research articles, I analyze the linkages
between them, and discuss how they contribute answers to the broader research
questions posed in the thesis.
Summary of Research Findings
This thesis aims to address the following research questions:
What is the process and underlying principles driving the implementation of egovernment initiatives in developing countries?
What are the major theoretical buildings blocks that can help to theorize the
complex relation between e-government and development?
In Table 5.1, I summarize how the different articles described in this chapter contribute
to the thesis questions, and then discuss them in more detail.
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Table 5.1. Synthesis of the Research Findings
Research Question
What is the process and
Article i
The implementation of e-government offers a number of
opportunities for developing countries. However, it is
accompanied by a number of adverse contextual
challenges related to implementation.
In order to help meeting the developmental goals, the
process involves aligning every set of e-government
project objectives with the country’s broad development
objectives. A country’s public sector reform is one
example of strategy that is linked to e-government.
The process involves various stakeholders from different
sectors to work with e-government.
There are various principles driving the implementation of
e-government globally: the tenets of New Public
Management, Modernization, Improvement of governance,
Economic and Social Development. Locally, there is the
willingness, vision, strategies and local needs that shape
the implementation process.
E-government projects aiming to meet social development
goals are being implemented as isolated initiatives in the
same context. Therefore, there is a need to improve the
mechanisms of cooperation and communication across
them to enhance the process of sharing experiences and not
having to reinvent the wheel.
There are limited effective e-government assessment
models based on interpretive analysis, which gather
various intricacies implicated in the process of
implementation of e-government.
Participation in e-government cannot be restricted to (e-)
participation. There is a need to value the participation of
local people, and the knowledge they hold. E-government
implementation is necessarily a complex and time
consuming process.
New structures emerge from e-government implementation
process. For example, new legislation is created.
The capability approach is the major theoretical thought to
plan, analyze, implement and evaluate e-government for
The capability approach emphasizes more on what people
value and not just economic development. Current egovernment initiatives fall short in this regard.
The achievement of social development passes through the
process of learning, which offers opportunities to enhance
ones capabilities and functionings.
Literacy is one of the basic capabilities that can help
people to enjoy the opportunities inscribed in egovernment.
E-government is not a homogeneous technology but rather,
it is composed by a set of technical and non-technical
components, which are interlinked.
The society is driven by existing structures and the
creation of new laws/legislation is one of the
characteristics and requirements of e-government.
underlying principles driving
the implementation of egovernment initiatives in
developing countries?
Article iii
Article vi
Article vii
What are the major theoretical
Article ii
buildings blocks that can help
to theorize the complex
relation between egovernment and development?
Article iii
Article iv
Article v
Article vii
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What is the process and underlying principles driving the implementation of egovernment initiatives in developing countries?
In practice, e-government implementation is a process, not solely about
installing online services. It is a process that involves building other concurrent
infrastructure including training and creating awareness of the phenomena amongst
people. E-government implementation process includes the development of appropriate
visions, policies and strategies which are aligned with the country’s development
strategies such as poverty reduction and public sector reform. These processes take
place under contextual constraints, for example, limited financial resources contributing
to (un) met interests of international, national and local governments.
E-government implementation is also a process driven by international and national
motivations. It is greatly motivated by processes of globalization (Jeger 2000; Polidamo
1999) including the drive towards New Public Management (Jeger 2000). New Public
Management seeks to inscribe the following features into e-government processes:
decentralization, improvement of governance performance, custom service standards,
outsourcing, market driven approach, liberalization of management, public-private
partnership, entrepreneurial proposals and privatization of the state owned enterprises
(Jeger 2000). In all this, ICT is seen as an important tool to enable development, a view
often supported by donors and international agencies (Ciborra 2005).
Meanwhile, meeting the international and national agendas is extremely challenging at
the local level of implementation requiring various forms of joint actions. Constructing
joint action at the local level is difficult as processes are disjointed, with minimal
sharing of experiences and learning taking place. Similarly, evaluation also tends to take
place in isolation with cross-sectoral linkages being largely ignored.
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• What are the major theoretical buildings blocks that can help to theorize the
complex relation between e-government and development?
The capability approach is the major theoretical building block proposed in this
thesis, and is extremely relevant given the majority of e-government projects that serve
to enhance developmental goals. Given this, the capability approach offers an effective
lens to see a range of development issues, with particular attention to what individuals
need for their well-being in terms of specific capabilities and functionings. Egovernment implementation can thus be seen as a development intervention, which
aims to enhance individual capabilities and functionings, and to remove the major
constraints they suffer from and promote their well-being.
Notwithstanding the emphasis on the capability approach as the fundamental building
block to theorize e-government for development, this thesis suggests additional
concepts that can help to understand their relationship more effectively. Literacy is seen
as the foremost complementary concept in this regard since e-government stands upon a
strong basis of a literate population. Only through literacy, can people both enjoy the
opportunities that e-government offers for development and actively participate in their
Meanwhile, e-government for development does not depend only on literacy (which is
often based on formal education), but also on how society formulates solutions for
everyday problems. One important problem domain concerns the lack of sharing of
experiences across projects, forcing the repeated reinvention of the problem wheel. So,
the focus on learning is: How to enable sharing and communication of experiences and
best practices across projects. In this way, synergies can be developed and value added
through these projects towards achieving developmental aims.
Learning takes place in social context. According to Karp (1986), agency in a social
context is influenced by structures (existing or new) which in turn influence agency.
Therefore, social structures serve as an important building block for analyzing the
relationship between e-government and development. There are formulated rules (or
specific written formal structures) involved in the implementation of e-government,
which may enable/constrain the achievement of development objectives. Informal
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structures are part of the e-government process as well, for example, related to informal
modes and practices around communication. The notion of structures and how they are
socially constituted and constituting, further help to look at e-government not just as a
technical but a socio-technical phenomenon.
Linking the Capability Approach and the Research Findings
The proposed conceptual framework was inspired by the capability approach
perspective, and also provided the frame in which to collect empirical data. For
example, the capability guided me to examine empirical examples about capabilities,
functionings and freedoms. Table 5.2 summarizes some of the concepts used to shape
the empirical process. The capability approach also informed the process of identifying
the constraints and conditions (e.g institutional arrangements) that shape the
achievement of e-government implementation goals, for example related to constraints
of literacy. The analysis process further led to the expansion of the capability
perspective as applied to e-government implementation.
Table 5.2. Functionings, Capabilities and Freedoms
- Transparency in the
management of public
- Participation in the
budgeting decision
- Being paid (public
servants) on time.
- Accountability in the
execution of public
- Equity in the allocation of
public finances;
- Responsiveness in public
finances related issues.
- The ability to perform
financial transactions;
- The ability to
administrate and manage
effectively public funds;
- The ability to access
- Transparency in the
management of land;
- Land conflicts
- Effectiveness and
efficiency in data
- Responsiveness in
land related issues.
- To have reliable,
effective, trustable
means of
- To be informed
(have access to
public sector
- The ability to register
land electronically;
- The ability to
administrate and
manage land
- The ability to
electronically intra
and inter public
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benefits of good financial
- Choices for decision
making process (eg.
financial managers).
- Apply less effort to
have land issues
sorted out.
- The ability to access
land related
- Choices of using land
titles for other
- Choices for decision
making process (eg.
land surveyors,
politicians, surveys).
- Choices of means
of electronic
and sources of
I now discuss some of the challenges I experienced in using the capability approach,
and how I tried to address them.
Linking institutional findings and individual focus
Amartya Sen’s capability approach is a philosophical way of thinking, which
can be materialized in various ways. These ways can consist of working directly with
institutions or working with individuals, both of which reinforce one another. Sen’s
capability approach is a theory for evaluating social arrangements, as well as for
guiding policy design. The capability approach advocates types of freedoms which are
contingent on institutional arrangements. This thesis evaluated the role of institutions in
e-government and how they shape individuals’ capabilities and functionings. The lack
of maturity of the technological systems to shape the individual level capabilities and
freedoms was also evaluated through the methodological approach adopted.
Sen (1999) discusses the role of institutions as active agents of change in enhancing
capabilities and functionings and guaranteeing freedoms of individuals. Thus,
functionings, capabilities and freedoms of individuals are reliant on institutional
arrangements which deserve adequate attention. Institutions, such as educational
arrangements and opportunities of open dialogue and debate, for example, through the
media, have a vital role in development as well as in the creation of shared norms.
By investigating institutional aspects and using concepts of literacy, learning across
projects, formulated rules and socio-technical view of e-government, can be
conceptualized as bridges between e-government initiatives and development aims, thus
enabling the realization of individual well-being. For example, if unlimited educational
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opportunities are created, reinforced by rules to benefit majorities and unprivileged, and
communication means made available to allow exchange of experiences or indigenous
knowledge, this arguably can result in the development of e-government applications
that can allow people to participate in public discussions and decision making.
While development consists of the removal of various unfreedoms, this research has
argued the role of institutional aspects is key in this process. According to Sen (1999),
what people can positively achieve is influenced by the institutional arrangements
created which provide opportunities for people to do what they value in life.
Enhancement of functionings and capabilities through e-government initiatives depend
on institutional arrangements as well.
In the case where freedoms are against collective development, for example, if
ownership of land by individuals or organizations contrasts with state interests or
neighbourhood, there should be an arbiter to conciliate involved interests. According to
Deneulin (2005), the capability approach does not discuss much about conflicting
interests, while there are areas of human life such as health and education which cannot
be left up to ‘peoples choices’. Government institutions and laws are the suitable arbiter
candidates for solving conflicting interests.
I now discuss how my findings that were informed by the capability approach.
The link between the research findings and the capability approach
In this thesis, the major findings are related to driving forces, exchange of
experiences, participation, regulatory framework, literacy aspects and socio-technical
views of technology in shaping e-government for development.
At the international level, forces driving e-government include: the emergence and
contributions of ICTs (Ndou 2004); globalization (e.g worldwide market integration and
compression of both the temporal and spatial dimensions of human interaction); uptake
of NPM (for example, modernization and reform of the public sector) (Macome and
Macueve 2007, Polidano 1999); good governance and development (Ciborra and
Navarra 2005). Globalization in the context of e-government aims to integrate systems,
databases and fasten communication to support decision making processes and market
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integration. These driving forces play out in the context of developing countries in
different ways, commonly as support through material (e.g financing), human resources
allocation, development of socio-economic policies and conditionalities (e.g debt relief
of most indebted countries) and institutionalization of projects to address development
problems (Ciborra and Navarra 2005). Such global interrelations have often been very
productive in the advancement of many countries, in Sen’s view. However, he
acknowledges that ‘economic’ globalization for instance poses risks to the vulnerable
and the disadvantaged, because of the inadequacies of global arrangements as well as
limitations of appropriate domestic policies. With regard to e-government, global
arrangements such as aid policy often adversely influence development trajectories
(Ciborra and Navarra 2005), since the economic perspective tends to be emphasized.
The current study revealed that national governments have tried to leverage upon the
positive side of globalization in leveraging e-government for development initiatives
(Macome and Macueve 2007; Macueve 2006). However, in implementation, the
responsibility tends to shift to the local governments who have to deal with various
infrastructural, human resources and other institutional aspects in deploying and using
the deployed system. The support channelled by global forces (often not sustainable)
comes often in the form of vertical programmes (Chilundo 2004) ignoring other
contextual issues and unfreedoms which may hinder e-government from supporting
developmental aims. For example, even after knowing that illiteracy is high in
developing countries, literacy programmes inscribed in e-government projects tend to
be standalone and fragmented, and often assuming that ICTs will help in the acquisition
of literacy skills and supporting faculty development (UNESCO 2006). This thinking is
to some extent contrary to the capability approach which defends that for any
development initiative, literacy plays the first and foremost role.
The discussion of e-government in relation to literacy and global policies proves that egovernment is not purely technical but a socio-technical phenomenon. For example, the
studied LMIS showed that, although technically well conceptualized to solve major
unfreedoms of people such as land conflicts, due to various social and institutional
reasons, have not delivered on their potential (Macueve 2007, 2008a, 2008b). Further,
historical conditions like that of colonization have influenced the status of use of ICTs,
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for example, due to the deficit of literate people created through the colonial policies
which hampered educational opportunities for Mozambicans. Similarly, the civil war
destroyed the means for literacy in the country, by allowing the breakdown of the
facilities of education. These historical conditions continue to have a significant impact
of the design and uptake of e-government applications.
The socio-technical approach to analysis while widely used in information systems
research, is still limited in its application in the arena of e-government. This thesis seeks
to do this explictly, for example, by emphasizing the relationship between technology
and development in terms of participation (Macueve 2008a). The capability approach
sees participation as a form of political freedom that allows people to choose and
express how to lead their lives (Sen 1999). In this thesis, participation was seen as the
involvement and engagement of people in building solutions that are drawn to
contribute to their socio-economic development, specifically by providing better
information related to land at two levels. One concerns the participation of local
communities who, based on their local knowledge, provide inputs to land surveyors to
create a more valid database that provides the foundation for the recording and tracking
of land transactions. Two concerns the participation of potential users in the
development of LMIS, which was found to be relatively non-existent. In this way, the
notion of participation was extended to also include the role of the community, a point
emphasized in some earlier research (Puri and Sahay 2003; Puri 2007), but which tends
to be largely ignored in mainstream information systems research. With regards
participation of users, various socio-cultural factors impede this, for example related to
long distances of travel, low literacy levels, and also the traditional hierarchical way of
government functioning.
In the capability approach, Sen discusses participation in democratic terms and
acknowledges the importance of literacy in influencing participation. In the current
study, although literacy is important, in the case of the community level participation, it
did not determine the extent of participation in the e-government application
development process. A key implication that arises concerns the need for developing
culturally sensitive ways to enable participation which respects the role of local
knowledge and experience. Sen’s capability approach advocates the use of experiences
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from the best practices, here referred to as learning. Learning helps to adapt to new
uncertainties in order to achieve anticipated change benefits (Gregor et al. 2006) such as
by learning new modes of communication (Black et. al 2004). Learning may involve
adjustment of existing values or organizational culture and practices induced by the IT
(Irani et al. 2008). In addition learning in e-government projects may involve the
incorporation of new rules to comply with (Phang 2008), for example, legislation
concerning the use and acceptance of e-signatures, or norms of equity or justice (Sen
Globalization driven e-government (Odebra-Straub and Straub 1995, UNDP 2001),
provides people with the opportunity to undertake production, engage in labour markets,
and participate in reciprocal exchanges with other people. Various components are seen
as crucial for countries and individuals to participate more effectively in the market
(Alampay et al. 2003, Jain and Mutula 2001). Viewed in this way, it implies that egovernment inception does not necessarily lead to development unless other
arrangements are provided, such as the development of capabilities of people and
creating value in e-government applications (Alampay et al. 2003).
In conclusion, in this chapter I have presented the key findings of my research as
published in articles that constitute this thesis. Through the combination and
interlinkages of the key findings and the capability approach, I have tried to respond to
the major research questions posed in this thesis. Based on the findings presented, in the
next chapter I draw contributions for theory and practice.
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V{tÑàxÜ I
Chapter 6 –
Contributions and Conclusions
The purpose of this chapter is to: (1) draw theoretical and practical contributions
for the field of information systems and development, in particular related to egovernment; and (2) present the conclusions of the thesis. These are discussed in
sections 6.2 and 6.3 respectively of this chapter.
Research in IS can offer several contributions to the real world (Oates 2006).
Interpretive research can help to develop generalizations in the form of theoretical
concepts, specific implications and/or rich insights (Walsham 1995). Accordingly, this
thesis offers the following contributions:
Expanding the scope of contemporary e-government analysis
based on the capability approach;
Identification of the role of literacy, learning, and formulated
rules in shaping the e-government and development relationship;
Broadening our conceptualization of literacy in the e-government
Proposing mechanisms for increasing cross-project learning;
Valuing the participation of community members, and enhancing
the use of indigenous knowledge in the implementation of IS; and,
Contributing to the evaluation of e-government for development;
These contributions are now each discussed.
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Theoretical Contributions
Expanding the scope of contemporary e-government analysis based
on the capability approach.
ICTs for development in general, and e-government for development in
particular are mainstream topics in contemporary IS research. For example, scholars
like Eggleston et al. (2002); Heeks and Kenny (2002); Wade (2002) and Avgerou
(2003) have questioned the largely advocated positive relationship between ICTs and
development, and the positioning of ICTs as a determinant of development (World
Bank 2006; United Nations 2005).
Conventional theories used for the analysis of the link between ICTs (and egovernment) and development have primarily focused on the criteria of market and
economic efficiencies. For example, Eggleston et al. (2002) argues that ICTs can play a
major role in creating integrated markets which can significantly help the rural poor of
developing countries. In contrast, Heeks and Kenny (2002) argue that there is no
evidence to date that ICTs have the power to increase economic growth in developing
countries. Nevertheless, they may be associated with some kinds of productivity
increases at the micro-level. In the same vein, Wade (2002) has argued that the power of
ICTs in development is oversold, and ICTs on their own cannot help to leapfrog
familiar development problems. Similarly, Avgerou (2003) argues that the link is
misleading and restrictive.
Despite the existence of a wide range of studies on ICTs for development, the
theoretical approach of a capability perspective has not extensively been used to analyze
this relationship. There exist some exceptions such as studies by Madon (2004), De
(2006), Zheng (2005, 2007). While De applied the capability approach to assess an egovernment project in India, Madon proposed the capability approach as a framework to
assess e-government achievements. Likewise, Zheng has theorized e-development
within the framework of information culture.
Madon’s framework primarily focuses on the ends of development, that is, what people
are doing with the opportunities offered through e-government. Zheng’s (2005) study
focuses primarily on information literacy as the basis for understanding this
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relationship. Madon’s study was exploratory in nature, and did not cover the evaluation
of processes which is an integral component of the e-government for development
relationship. Zheng’s study was restricted to the analysis of information culture, seen as
a process which results from social action. Gidden’s Struturation theory helped to frame
Zheng’s analysis of information culture shaped by structures of information literacy,
information freedom, and information norms.
My study contributes to the IS field by: 1) using the capability approach to expand the
scope of theoretical analysis of contemporary e-government studies by identifying key
building blocks to help understand the e-government and development relationship and
make it more effective. Some of the building blocks identified include literacy, interproject learning and formulated rules (structures) that constrain or enable the uptake and
use of e-government; 2) trying to expand the use of the capability approach in its
practical implications by developing specific recommendations.
Figure 6.1 schematically illustrates my proposed conceptual framework.
Figure 6.1 E-government for Development Conceptual Framework
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The level of analysis addressed in this study is also different from some previous
studies. For example, Madon (2004) proposes measures for the evaluation of
development achievements. Madon analyzed the following issues: 1) characteristics of
the applications which provide the evaluator with information about the capabilities,
opportunities, and functionings that these applications can offer; 2) functionings enabled
by e-government applications; 3) how do people use the opportunities offered by the
applications; 4) barriers to achieving the desired functionings. In contrast, this study
focuses on the process through which development objectives are attained. This is in
line with Sen’s (1999) argument that: “Both processes and opportunities have
importance of their own, and each aspect relates to seeing development as freedom”
(pag. 17). The processes I have focused on concerns the multiple kinds of literacies
involved including information literacy and learning across projects.
Identification of the role of literacy, learning and formulated rules in
shaping the e-government and development relationship.
The role of four identified building blocks of the e-government-development
relationship are now discussed.
The role of literacy
The role of literacy in socio development and human well being is universally
acknowledged, for example, in the Millennium Development Goals and various United
Nations reports. In general, literacy plays an important role in development by opening
up more individual opportunities and enabling individuals to achieve numerous
freedoms in life such as related to good jobs, better health and empowerment (UNESCO
2006). In the IS field, the role of literacy is often seen as providing the capability of
enabling individuals to use ICTs. I argue that literacy should be seen more broadly as
enabling the effective use of information inscribed in e-government applications to
solve one’s problems and participate in public discussions. At a macro level, literacy
can also enable communities, organizations, and governments to develop their technical
and institutional solutions in line with what they collectively value. For example, in the
case of LMIS, the existence of low levels of literacy in society limited DINAGECA’s
institutional freedom to develop their technical solutions and thus forced them to rely on
foreign technical solutions.
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It is also argued that literacy (beyond the skill of reading and writing) can play a key
role in shaping the quality of participation in public discussions and in the development
of technical solutions. For example, for individuals to seriously engage in discussing the
country’s economy, it is fundamental for them to possess accounting and financing
literacy. Similarly, discussions on urbanization and environment issues presuppose
levels of spatial literacy, GIS and maps. In developing ICT based solutions, not only
hardware and software knowledge is necessary, but also application specific domain
specific knowledge. However, literacy alone cannot make the relationship between egovernment and development effective, and requires other institutional arrangements to
be in place such as related to physical infrastructure and human resources capacity.
The role of inter-project learning
In the existing literature, various forms of learning have been discussed. Dierkes et al.
(2001) state that "Sociologists approach to learning is not as something that takes place
in the mind but as something produced and reproduced in social relations of individuals
when they participate in society" (pag. 47). This concept emphasizes the need for
integrated learning as a part of our every-day life, which necessarily involves requiring
to draw upon learning from informal sources of social relationships, and is not restricted
to formal methods and courses.
However, our e-government capacity building efforts tend to focus primarily on formal
learning methods. This bias is especially pertinent in the ICT area where the focus is on
a skills based approach. With the emergence of ICTs, they are seen as an opportunity of
enhancing learning, popularly called e-learning, in the educational systems by helping
to transcend barriers of time and space and encouraging team based learning. Rarely is
the exchange of experiences across different IS implementation projects emphasized or
treated as learning. In this thesis, this aspect of learning has been emphasized, especially
across the various e-government projects undertaken by different government sectors.
Such learning can help to establish mechanisms by which implementers do not repeat
the same mistakes, and can easily import best practices. This can also help to find better
solutions, minimize the use of formal resources and simultaneously encourage informal
sharing as an approach to contribute to the aims of development.
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The role of Formulated Rules
The concept of structures from Giddens’ Structuration theory has been widely
applied in the IS literature to explain various social actions, and also in other domains
such as family, community and organizations (Phipps 2001). Structures help to explain
how actions become relatively stable and represent system-like patterns of interactions
over time and space. In the IS field, the notion of structures has been used to understand
the IT-organization relationship as both mutually shaping and being shaped (Orlikowski
1992, 2000). However, these ideas have not been explicitly applied to analyze the
domain of e-government implementation in developing countries.
A recent exception is Senyucel’s (2005, 2007) study which applied structuration theory
to understand the boundaries that agents experience in engaging with e-government
applications in organizations, and how these shape what they can or not do. Absence of
formal rules sometimes leads agents to use the e-government applications in ways that
are not acceptable, and at other times the ambiguities can contribute to overcoming
problems. This leads to tensions between users and providers, with the users often being
accused of not knowing what they want or being unrealistic in their demands, and
providers of being unresponsive and distant.
In this thesis, I have shown how this tension can potentially be reduced by creating laws
and decrees, something especially relevant in hierarchical cultures such as
Mozambique. Specifically, I have discussed mechanisms related to ICT and egovernment policy and strategy, and decrees accommodating new e-government
applications and procedures.
Practical Contributions
Broadening our conceptualization of literacy in the e-government
In general, literacy can be seen to potentially enhance human opportunities for leading a
better life, for example, to obtain better opportunities for employment and health. In
particular, traditional literacy opens up opportunities for individuals to enjoy other types
of ‘literacies’. That is, for one to be ICT literate, one needs first to have basic literacy
skills. ICT literacy gives opportunities for individuals not to be excluded in
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contemporary society and help make informed decisions. Therefore, each specific
literacy has its own functions and implications on the lives of individuals and society in
general. The combination of various literacies offers in Sen’s parlance, different
While each literacy has an intrinsic value in the achievement of development aims, in
the field of e-government, literacy has seldom been explicitly discussed, and if at all, it
is superficially mentioned as being a challenge (e.g Heeks 2003, Ndou 2004) often
without being empirically investigated. There are few empirical investigations in this
regard, such as Zheng (2005) who investigated the issue of information literacy in egovernment for development.
In this thesis, I have shown how different literacies play a role in e–government
implementation for development both from the demand side and the e-government
providers’ side. On the demand side, basic literacy, ICT literacy and information
literacy are necessary for people to make effective use of e-government applications. In
addition, literacy in different domain areas is also required, such as spatial literacy for
the use of land systems. Financial and accounting literacy is necessary for people to
participate in discussions on public finances. At the level of providers, I have examined
literacy in terms of formal instructions for developers to develop effective solutions.
Literacy for providers is not only about the capability of using ICTs as generally
defined, but also of developing systems which embeds knowledge from various fields.
With respect to literacy, there are various skills identified ranging from signing
documents, performing online transactions to developing useful and relevant ICT based
e-government applications.
Proposing mechanisms for increasing learning inter-project
Typically when we talk about learning across-projects there are limited
empirically defined frameworks. For example, from the domain of organizational
studies, Senge (1990) argued that moving individuals from project to project and with it
their accumulated experience and tacit knowledge, can help to enhance learning across
projects. Such a process can help to improve practices and inscribe them into routine
management processes in an incremental fashion (Zollo and Winter 2002). Assigning
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people to projects where their previous experience is going to be applicable, would
mean that there may be more efficient team learning on a project through the
application of practical and workable solutions, albeit drawn from other settings (Cohen
and Levinthal 1990).
Knowledge articulation is another framework for describing learning across projects
(Newell and Edelmen 2008). It is defined as the deliberate process through which
individuals and teams figure out what works and what does not in the execution of an
organizational task (Zolo and Winter 2002, pag. 341). It occurs when individuals or
teams make a cognitive effort to enhance their understanding of the causal links
between actions and outcomes. Documenting lessons learnt and sharing it with others is
another mechanism for enabling cross-project learning (Newell and Edelmen 2008).
Also, encouraging project teams to reflect on what has been learnt and to systematically
document them through reviews and evaluation (Newell and Edelmen 2008). While
such reviews are typically done at the end of the project (Kotnour 1999), it needs to be
done as a process and over different predetermined milestones of the project. Such
mechanisms of learning can be supportive in identifying and addressing typical
implementation problems that each project faces. Typically, such mechanisms for
learning do not exist in the context of ICT based projects of the public sector in
developing countries, because of the compartmentalized style of functioning and the
donor driven nature of vertical projects. While building such communication
mechanisms is structurally complex, I still argue it needs to be explicitly incorporated
into project planning and implementation processes.
Valuing the participation of community members, and enhancing the
use of indigenous knowledge in the implementation of IS.
The concept of participation is used in various fields such as political, economic,
management, organizational, development, decision making, and in the design and
development of IS. Hence, there is a lack of a universally accepted conceptual
framework around participation (Rifkin and Kangere 2001). Cooke and Kothari (2001)
have argued that it is not possible to develop such a common framework because
participation comes about as a result of practice that has historically evolved in specific
situations. Thus, viewing participation without grounded experience would not be
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possible. Accordingly, participation cannot be measured, quantified and replicated as it
is a context based concern.
In the field of e-government, participation is often seen as the use of ICTs to broaden
and deepen political participation by enabling citizens to connect with one another and
also with their elected representatives (Macintosh 2006). This view emphasizes a more
politically motivated view of participation enabled through electronic means. However,
participation in e-government is complex because it involves various domains, different
stakeholders, levels of engagement, stages in policy making, and also with respect to
research and application (DEMO net 2006). In this thesis, I have discussed participation
in the context of incorporating indigenous knowledge in the design, development and
use of e-government applications in the context of developing countries.
In the context of developing countries, various processes are still not computerized, and
involve a long term and incremental process. However, the existing manual systems
provide very important inputs for the design and development of e-government
applications. For example, land survey in some developing countries still takes place
through manual means through people from the community. The knowledge which
these community members have about the land and the area are crucial in the design of
e-government systems such as what the Mozambique government were attempting.
Such knowledge can strengthen processes such as digitization of land records and
establishing registration and grievance redressal systems. Ignoring such knowledge will
lead to significant “design-reality” gaps and the creation of systems which do not suit
the contextual needs.
While typically governmental agendas around e-government are defined by senior
policy makers and politicians, implementation on the ground tends to follow a bottomup process. It is argued that both top-down and bottom-up processes are required, and
there is a need to form an effective balance. Especially important is to get the right
balance of technical expertise to ensure that appropriate systems are developed and of
political support to ensure there is adequate legitimacy and buy in for the system. Often
in countries like Mozambique the problem is that the political gets over emphasized at
the expense of the technical, and ineffective systems are developed.
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Contributing to the evaluation of e-government for development.
The capability approach has implications also in the evaluation of e-government
for development with an emphasis on the demand side (Madon 2004; De 2006; Zheng
2005). Such an approach can contribute to the formulation of indicators for evaluation,
and their implementation. Evaluating is important as it helps to analyze the means of
how development outcomes are achieved and to identify related problems and draw
respective mechanisms to overcome them. For example, analyzing learning allows us to
evaluate existing means of communication among projects, how they are challenged by
existing social structures, and how these may be addressed. In that, it contributes to the
genre of studies emphasizing the need for evaluation in e-government projects (Madon
2004; De 2006). The approach taken is different from the earlier referred studies
through its emphasis on learning and literacy.
To conclude, this study has developed theoretical and practical contributions to the
domain of e-government implementation for development. While these contributions
have been inductively derived from empirical and theoretical experiences in the context
of Mozambique, arguably these can be used by practitioners, managers and politicians
also in other developing countries. For example, while specific mechanisms of learning
and communication have been emphasized through this study, in other countries other
means would apply. However, the general point which remains is that communication
and literacy needs to be enhanced to support the implementation of such projects.
In this thesis, I have tried to persuade e-government practitioners, politicians and
managers on how e-government implementation for development should be understood
in order to be effective. Such persuasion was based on theoretical constructions of
development, information systems as social systems and empirical evidences collected
in a particular developing country context. Thus, arguably I have contributed to the
articulation of a richer understanding of the key elements implicated in e-government
implementation. This study can help to further our knowledge base about what we need
to make the relationship between e-government and development more effective.
Meanwhile, while this is one of the early studies drawing upon the capability approach
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in IS research, and definitely the first of its kind in Mozambique, there are important
future implications that have been identified.
The capability approach stands upon the satisfaction of several combinations of
capabilities. Current approaches tend to be guided primarily by market models, not
often adequate for the purposes of supporting processes of social development. The
capability approach offers a potential to cover both market and non-market
environments. So, it not only includes material profits but also aspects of people’s well
being opportunities- to have adequate information to lead a life one deserves.
As a positive implication of this research, the capability approach is a mechanism for
the planners to assess the quality of e-government initiatives. The conceptual
framework adopted, helps to delve into hidden possibilities and issues that are often
taken for granted as existing or missing; for example, those of literacy and learning.
Such studies can stimulate e-government current practices for the expansion of literacy
and learning programmes. For society, in general the capability approach applied in
real life problems can be considered as an opportunity of creating solutions for their
problems, since common frameworks of development have, to some extent, excluded
their needs.
Future studies in this domain should seek to build on the work of Madon (2004), of
assessing e-government achievements using the capability approach. While existing
studies till date have not conclusively demonstrated evidence of e-government projects
having improved people’s capabilities, functionings and freedoms, there is a need to
identify context specific approaches of how this may be achieved. While this study may
have made modest gains towards this end, arguably significant work still remains to be
done if we want e-government applications to deliver their promised potential.
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APPENDIX 1 Macome, E. and Macueve, G. (2007) E‐government for Mozambique: Challenges and Opportunities. In Mishra, S. and Mukherjee, A. (Eds.) E­
governance in Developing Nations. Hyderabad, The Icfai University Press: 167‐188. 1 E-Government for Mozambique: Challenges and Opportunities
E-Government for Mozambique:
Challenges and Opportunities
Esselina Macome and Gertrudes Adolfo Macueve
The government of Mozambique approved a national
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) policy
and designed its implementation strategy with the main
objective of contributing to the poverty alleviation in the
country. E-government strategy, which is still in the process
of development, is a part of the broad Poverty Alleviation
Programme and Public Sector Reforms (PSR). Flagship
projects are included in the strategy as an opportunity and
rationale to consolidate and proactively build upon existing
ICTs and PSR. Meanwhile, this chapter addresses the issues
related to the challenges and opportunities that e-government
in Mozambique can bring. This research was done through
the use of literature review, which may bring bias in the
analysis due to the lack of empirical data (interviews and
Source: Esselina Macome and Gertrudes Adolfo Macueve © Esselina Macome and Gertrudes Adolfo Macueve. Printed
with permission.
The importance of expanding the access of developing countries to ICT and
related technology has been recognized by governments and international agencies
with increasing consensus that ICT-related technology should be regarded as a
strategic national infrastructure (IDRC, 1999, 2000; Conselho de Ministros,
2000; Madon, 2000; Yahaga, 2000; PNUD, 2001). Development, conceptualized
as a discourse (Escobar, 1995), can, in contemporary times, be characterized by
various dimensions of new ICTs. These range from the need to create more ICT
infrastructure, develop different applications, and develop ‘knowledge workers’
who can form the basis of new “information societies”. While creating
infrastructure is a starting point, although expensive, it is perhaps the easiest
part. It is more complex to stimulate processes through which individuals,
organizations, communities and countries create capacities to use information
effectively in their local contexts and for their needs (Madon, 2000). It is this
perspective that encouraged the Government of Mozambique to approve a national
ICT policy and designed its implementation strategy with the notion of
integrating the solution of developmental problems within the ICT vision.
Driven by the belief that in current times ICT is one of the key motors for
development, governments are taking wide-ranging initiatives to rapidly create
knowledge-based economic structures and information societies comprising
networks of individuals, firms and countries interlinked electronically through
webs of informational relationships. ICTs present government with opportunities
to create and support strategies to address basic development needs and create
new infrastructure. Developing countries face a complex mix of developmental
challenges, including the need to recoup a fair share in international trade, the
development of human capital through better health and education, to promote
effective macroeconomic management and good governance, and to address
questions of agricultural development, food security and environmental
conservation (Oshikoya and Hussain, 1998).
With the vision to offer better services to the citizens and business communities,
the government of Mozambique is presently involved in public sector reform. It
is under these circumstances that the e-government strategy appears. This strategy
is still in the process of development, in which the complete draft was developed
E-Government for Mozambique: Challenges and Opportunities
last year. This paper addresses the issue related to the opportunities and challenges
that e-government can bring to a country like Mozambique.
This paper is organized in five sections. The first section deals with the
introduction of this paper. The second section presents a review of the literature
about the topic of e-government, particularly in terms of vision, development
and public reform. The next section deals with the context for the design of
e-government strategy for Mozambique. The fourth section discusses the two
different government approaches. Finally, the fifth section presents the conclusion
and implications for the e-government strategy for Mozambique.
Literature Review
In this section, we first bring the different views of what has been perceived as
e-government, its different perspectives and visions. Then we present the paradigms
of e-government in the public sector and the models to be discussed.
E-Government Vision
E-government is an evolution of government; a transformation that helps citizens
and businesses find opportunity in the knowledge economy. To be successful and
effective, it must be part of a larger program of government reform – how it works,
manages information, manages internal functions, serves citizens and businesses. It
is an opportunity to rethink the role of government and can become a tool to
further economic development and good governance (John et al., 2004).
E-government implementation has been argued as a driving force for better
governance for all the nations in the world. Its benefits and objectives in the
public sector, specifically in the relationship government-to-citizen (G2C), include
among others, the citizens’ empowerment through access to information, the
ability to transform relations with citizens, better delivery of government services
to citizens, decreasing of corruption levels and increasing of transparency
(Wolfensohn 2001; Lal 1999; Heeks (2001; 2004)).
E-government has different meanings for different people. Some tend to think
first and foremost of ICT side of the equation as government and some as an
integration. E-government, according to the World Bank (2004), is about
changing how governments work, share information, and deliver services to external
and internal clients. UN and ASPA (2002) see e-government as the process by
which institutions, and citizens ‘guide’ themselves; the interaction between the
public sectors and how society organizes itself for collective decision-making,
and provides the transparent mechanism for seeing those decisions through. The
term governance, as generally used, encompasses all aspects of the way a country
is governed, including its economic policies and regulatory framework (IMF
2004). Wolfensohns (2001), consider e-government as the use of ICTs and
particularly the internet to achieve better governance. Good governance can be
seen as an exercise of economic, political, and administrative authority to better
manage affairs of a country at all levels, national and local (Backus 2001). Heeks
(2001) thinks of e-government as ‘i-governance’ – integrated governance – since it
integrates both the processing and communication technologies; and since it
integrates people, processes, information, and technology in the service of achieving
governance objectives.
The focus of e-government implementation varies from country to country
according to their interpretation of its terns and the country’s priority. In respect
to that, Lim (2004) and (UN and ASPA 2002) argue that e-government has
different meanings to different people, with each country embarking on
customized programmes which address their citizens’ needs and priorities that
are dependent on demographics, infrastructure, capacity to sustain, political
contexts and e-readiness levels, to name a few variables. For instance, Navarra and
Cornford (2003) mention e-government example of Canada, where the aim is to
redesign services in ways that make sense to citizens, business and international
clients, and Norway and Spain, where the emphasis is on modernization of public
services and administrative procedures. In Singapore, E-government stresses the
need to create knowledge-based work place for technology experimentation.
The e-government implementation strategy should be designed from a vision
in which the government establishes the opportunities to be pursued. It is important
that a shared understanding of e-government is acquainted. This is a foundation for
the focusing and engagement of all citizens. The opportunities defined through the
vision and also the shared of common understanding might bring benefits in order
to make the citizens better off. We have noticed that different understandings and
E-Government for Mozambique: Challenges and Opportunities
vision of e-government from countries lead to different implementation projects.
Similarly, if different understandings inside the country are verified, it may lead to
spread of efforts and the state objectives might not be fulfilled.
Box 1: Examples of Electonic Government (EG) Vision
New Zealand
EG is changing the way Government works. It enables delivery of Government information and services
in ways that better reflect what people need or want from Government, rather than simply what
agencies want or are prepared to provide them.
Malaysia To ‘Leapfrog’ towards a values-based Knowledge Society of our own mould by 2020; and
evolve a values-based knowledge society in the Malaysian mould where the society is rich in
information, empowered by knowledge, infused with a distinctive value-system and is self-governing.
Sri Lanka
“e-Sri Lanka aspires to be the ideal in making Sri Lanka as the most connected government to its
people, and raising the quality of life of all its citizens with access to better public services, learning
opportunities, and information. But above all, the program aims at informing, connecting and
enabling isolated communities through ICT, and empowering farmers, students and small
entrepreneurs to dream and hope for a better future.”
According to Choudrie et al. (2004), the impact of e-government at the broadest
level is simply better government by enabling better policy outcomes, higher quality
services, and greater engagement with citizens and by improving other key outputs.
There are many benefits of e-government initiatives, including improving efficiency
by reducing the time spent on manual tasks, providing rapid online response,
improving organizational competitiveness with the public sector organizations, and
it helping building strengthening trust between government and citizens. Further,
although some scholars (Kothari and Minogue 2000; Kenny 2002; Eggleston et al.,
2002; Straub 2003; Avegrou 2003) do not agree, benefits and visions of e-government
promise development (human and economic) and poverty alleviation. They argue
that there is less evidence of the tool-and-effect link between ICT and economic
Paradigms of Public Sector
E-governance is a new paradigm in public sector reform. According to Heeks,
(2001), one of the main contributions that e-government brings is
e-administration, which amongst other advantages, will create a wealth of new
digital connections between government and citizens, within the government,
and between and within communities to build social and economic development.
The World Bank (2004) says that e-government and good governance major
implications for equity, poverty and quality of life and e-government initiatives
should be part of broader reforms to improve public sector performance that are
under the New Public Management (NPM).
It is observed that many countries are making reforms in their public
administration sectors. This is due to many factors, such as the creation of a new
world economic order, also called globalization, that refers to the changes in the
production and organization of labor mode (Jeger 2000) or the imperatives of
globalization (Polidano 1999), modernization of the public administration sector,
crisis of the international debt (Andrade 2000; Polidano 1999) and public hostility
to government (Polidano 1999). NPM is the name that refers to the reforms as a
response to the above-mentioned factors.
Table 1: Characterization of Bureaucratic and E-Government Paradigms
Paradigm shift in public sector delivery
Bureaucratic Paradigm
E-Government Paradigm
Production Costs
User satisfaction and control
Process Organization
Functional rationality,
departmentalization, vertical
hierarchy of control
Horizontal hierarchy,
networking organization,
information sharing
Management Principle
Management by rule and
Flexible management
interdepartmental team work
with central coordination
Leadership Style
Command and control
Facilitation, coordination and
innovative entrepreneurship
Internal Communication
Top-down, hierarchical
Multidirectional network
with central coordination,
direct communication
External Communication
Centralized, formal, limited
Formal and informal direct
and fast feedback, multiple
Mode of Services Delivery
Documentary mode and
interpersonal interaction
Electronic exchange, non-face
-to-face interaction
Source: Ho, 2002.
E-Government for Mozambique: Challenges and Opportunities
According to Kaboolian (1998), the NPM labels a series of innovations that
propose alternatives to the bureaucratic model of public administration. It was
adopted in the ’80s by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development (OECD) countries, the Westminster parliamentary systems – the
United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia and Canada as well as other nations
like the Scandinavian countries and the United States. Common to reform
movements in all these countries is the use of the economic market as a model for
political and administrative relationships.
Ho (2002), in his paper on local government and e-government initiatives,
has recognized that the new paradigm for the public sector is based on the shift
toward e-government paradigm, which emphasizes a coordinated networking
building, external collaboration and is customer services oriented.
E-Government (EG) Approach
E-government strategies worldwide are consistent in Visions and Expectations.
The depth of focus on technology and other operational considerations vary in
different countries upon the maturity of the EG development process. However,
there are two significantly different points of departure for EG strategies:
• The ‘Legacy’ model, which generally seeks to:
– Inform and to empower Public Sector with ICT;
– Improve upon an existing level of service delivery and
– Fulfilling interactions with Government (a ‘better’ experience).
• The ‘Greenfield’ model, which generally seeks to:
– Reform/Enable Public Sector with ICT;
– Establish a standard for service delivery and
– Facilitating interactions with Government (a ‘productive’ experience).
The differentiating factors between Legacy and Greenfield points of departure
are expanded in Table 2. A valid manner in which the position of one relative to
the other can be articulated is in comparison of the resources that would have to
be applied in order that an e-government program could be effected and sustained.
Hence, these are noted as follows:
Table 2: Summary of the Comparison Between Legacy
Versus Greenfield Model
Radical & Fundamental
Relative Centuries of governance
Immediate Decades of government
Budgeted “As well as….”
Opportunity cost
Borrowed “Instead of…”
Variable Absolute
Absolute expenditure
Capital Streamlining
Integrate Functional Structures
Establishing Integrate Data Structures
Past “What do we have”
Future “What will we have?”
Happier citizens
Best case
Economic competitiveness
Status-quo “Cruising at altitude”
Worst case
Degenerative “Taking-off”
a. The human resource in the Legacy system primarily involves re-training
an existing public sector with an entrenched and well-performing system;
whereas the Greenfield system must be geared to first training of existing
staff, then to a greater degree of new staff that is entering and expanding
the public sector in growing economies.
b. Legacy systems have a structured, albeit typically manual or silo-based,
information resource that requires translation and integration into updated
technologies, which can allow users to pull information and apply it. However,
Greenfield systems typically do not have the information resource structured
initially in a manner that can allow migration; hence, it is necessary to first
collect data, create channels by which it can be delivered and accessed, and
lastly push that information onto the desktops of officers who may not have
been used to working with such resources at their fingertips.
c. Regarding technology, Legacy systems have in all probability at least one
generation of technology, which will require upgrading. The extent of
upgrade, together with the ancillary requirements of training and
familiarization, is relatively incremental as compared with the acquisition
and first-time training required by a Greenfield system.
E-Government for Mozambique: Challenges and Opportunities
d. The resource of need is with regard to e-government considering the state
of the public sector as it exists today. In Legacy systems, e-government is
laid upon centuries of governance, wherein almost every citizen understands
and has accepted the role of Government, and acknowledges its validity in
the context of sovereignty and nationhood. However, this may not be the
case in a Greenfield environment where in some cases the government has
been in existence for only decades and has yet to impact every citizen to an
extent that could allow self-validation beyond any doubt. Indeed, it is not
unreasonable to assume that in a few extreme cases, not all potential citizens
may even be aware that they are subject to a government. For this reason
the advent of e-government is relatively less important in a Legacy situation,
as compared with the immediate need of Greenfield systems, which require
any and all technologies which could be used to rapidly scale to establish
or consolidate themselves and their responsibilities in the eyes of those
whom they seek to govern.
e. Economically, an Opportunity Cost is simplistically understood as the
value foregone in a venture by committing resources to different venture.
In Legacy systems, the opportunity cost of e-government is a budgeted
matter that is represented as a line-item expenditure in a given period that
will have been allocated for operation of government in a self-sustaining
economy. However, the Greenfield situation is more likely a choice between
e-government and another tangible and no less important venture, such as
poverty alleviation or infrastructure. Given that technology and training
will already figure within the budgets of Legacy systems, the resource of
absolute expenditure is a variable element within an overall outgoing;
however e-government in a Greenfield situation will require an investment
akin to capital expenditure in order that the system can begin.
f. Legacy systems already enjoy sophisticated relationships between the various
bodies that constitute government with protocols and practices that are well
laid-out and for the most part logical. The effect of e-government, therefore,
is one of streamlining those existing relationships so that they become more
relevant to meeting challenges of today. E-government in a Greenfield scenario
seeks to establish relationships for the first time, generating complex
interactions on various levels that can become the basis of simpler resolution
throughout the working of government for the benefit of all.
g. The driver for a Legacy move to e-government can be identified as in the
past – a need to electronically consolidate the existing structure and
information of the government into a framework that will allow the
government to continue delivering services with increasing value to society.
e-government in a Greenfield environment is a key component of the future
of that government, becoming both a conduit and catalyst for change and
performance, based on what they aspire to have and deliver to their society.
h. As such, the Best and Worst Case scenarios for Legacy and Greenfield are
stark comparisons of the potential value of e-government to the development
of the country in the widest sense. The impact of e-government in Legacy
systems can, at its best, produce happier citizens more able to interact
with government to ease interactions for a better experience; and at worst,
there will be little change to the already satisfactory experience these citizens
have the benefit of. However, the worst case in a Greenfield scenario is
actually one of detriments wherein developing countries are further
distanced from the technologies that are becoming the basis by which
economic competitiveness is sustained; this is the best case a developing
country could hope for.
The Mozambican Context
Mozambique is a developing country in which the government is aware of and is
taking serious actions to reduce the poverty. As a result, PARPA was launched
with the objectives of reducing poverty. The alleviation of poverty through the
implementation and use of ICTs is one of the strategies of the Mozambican
government. This strategy was launched through the creation, first of the Nation’s
Vision and Strategy in which the road for development entail difficulties that are
expressed in terms of weaknesses to overcome, threats and constraints to defeat,
and strengths and opportunities to take advantage of, so that the Vision may
materialize and second the ICT Policy.
The ICT Policy
The Mozambican ICT Policy was approved in 2000, setting education, human
resources development, health, universal access, infrastructure, and governance
as priorities. Its main objective is to contribute to poverty reduction in the country
E-Government for Mozambique: Challenges and Opportunities
through promotion of ICT as an enabler for development in all areas. According
to Rowan (2003), many developing countries put emphasis on infrastructure
policy development, neglecting dimensions of human resources development and
information content issue, but the government of Mozambique knew, when
creating the ICT policy that it wanted to use ICT to support its poverty reduction
activities. Hence, efforts to support awareness building, capacity and the creation
of an enabling environment would underpin the policy development.
Consequently, the policy sets out challenging goals for the long-term future,
stating that the ICTs shall:
• Contribute to the eradication of absolute poverty and improve the lives of
Mozambican citizens;
• Fight against illiteracy and accelerate the development of human resources;
• Provide universal access to information and world-wide knowledge;
• Raise the efficacy and efficiency of the public and private services;
• Improve governance and public administration;
• Create a legal and business environment favorable to the production and
dissemination of ICTs;
• Make Mozambique a producer and not only a consumer of ICT; and
• Lift Mozambique to the level of being a relevant, active and competitive
partner in the Global Information Society and the world economy.
There was clear interest and recognition that the completion of the ICT policy
was not the end of the process. Rather, it had to be translated into an action plan
that could orient implementation. Therefore, in early 2001, efforts turned to
drafting an Implementation Strategy. In 2002, it was approved. It is a key reference
point for people and organizations interested in the use of ICTs for development
in Mozambique. It provides a history of what has been done, introduces the
policy framework and identifies projects that may be used as entry points for
support (Rowan 2003).
Rowan (2003) in her description of how the ICT policy in Mozambique was
developed underscores that the strategy document of commitment and action
exists, but now, the government must follow the words. Meanwhile, the largest
obstacle lies in how the implementation is, or have to be, to make the ICTs provide
information that meet Mozambicans’ real needs, and how to set up a monitoring
system which will adequately measure the progress intended. Consequently in 2004,
it submitted and approved the e-government strategy in Mozambique.
Mozambique E-Government (MOZ-EG)
The strategy of MOZ-EG defines programmes through which new ICT can
support the implementation of the Programme of the Government of Mozambique
and the PARPA (see Figure 1). Projects in the priority areas of the ICT Policy are
proposed for the short, medium and long term.
Figure 1: The Mozambican EG-Driven Force
ICT Strategy
Public Sector
Source: John et al. 2004.
The Mozambican e-government strategy is characterized by being businessdriven and citizen-centric. The factors that will contribute to the success for its
implementation in summary are:
A. MOZ-EG provides the framework for coordination of initiatives and the
integration of data and information services.
B. MOZ-EG focuses on internal exchange of data/information and external
delivery of services to citizens and businesses.
C. MOZ-EG enables multi-stakeholder donor collaboration for increased
transparency and good governance, thereby addressing corruption.
D. MOZ-EG evaluates the policy and regulatory framework for a phased
improvement of service delivery using open, scalable and sustainable
E-Government for Mozambique: Challenges and Opportunities
E. MOZ-EG enables Mozambique to fully integrate and participate in the
global supply of products, services, information and knowledge.
E-government strategies comprise 4 key components to varying degrees of
importance depending on the strategizing countries. Hence, the same components
are deemed relevant to focus upon for a Mozambican E-Government Strategy
also. The components are (see Figure 2):
a. A Human/Institutional Capacity Building component which addresses the
prerequisite skills and knowledge necessary in the communities delivering,
operating and applying E-government.
b. An Infra/Info-structure Development component which addresses the
necessary connectivity, protocols, equipment, technology and technicalities
required to affect E-government.
c. A Realization & Sustainability Planning component which addresses how
these applied resources and commitments can be effectively and
economically sustained beyond initial implementation lifelong.
d. Priorities areas and Prototypes which address how to apply the ICTs in order
to prove the MOZ-EG concepts.
Figure 2: The Mozambican EG Strategy Focus
Human/Institutional 1
Capacity Building
Strategy Focus
Infra/Info-structure 2
Realization and 3
Sustainability Planning
Priority Areas and 4
Source: John et al. 2004.
MOZ-EG is for development. In this sense, according to UN and ASPA (2002),
it is viewed as a complex process, articulated over time, embracing the overall system
in which governments operate and interact with individuals, organizations and
communities to perform their functions, achieving public ends by digital means.
A clear, strategic vision of what government aims to achieve through e-government
has to be generated to guide the transformation process. This may encompass a
system-wide perspective, for example, at the central government level, or be limited
to a specific sector of government administration. This vision has to take into account
the national and local development needs and opportunities, as well as the conditions
facing the government system or specific sectors.
The vision of e-government for development needs to be aligned with national
development strategies and plans, in particular with the national ICT strategy
and governance reform goals (see Box 2).
Box 2: The Mozambican Vision of E-Government
MOZ-EG will deliver to every Mozambican in every area of governance, every sector of the
economy, and at every level of society, the right to access, process and apply all the information
necessary for each to achieve their fullest potential as a knowledgeable individual, a responsible
citizen and global competitor.
Source: John et al 2004.
Concretization of MOZ-EG will be done through flagship projects that are
according to John et al. (2004), an innovation proposed for the development of
MOZ-EG. Such an approach has not been used in the development of any previous
EG strategy. This approach responds to Mozambique’s position as a developing
country with scarce resources, yet having a strong potential to scale ideas and methods
quickly once they are sown and tried. Mozambique can and will apply lessons
learnt from flagship projects to develop relevant and unique MOZ-EG solutions,
once success in key areas has been demonstrated professionally and speedily.
Mozambique, in the implementation of e-government will, as a developing
country, gain some opportunities and face some challenges inside the set presented
by Ndou (2004) as follows:
• Cost reduction
• Quality of services delivering to business and customers
• Transparency, anticorruption, accommodation
• Increase the capacity of the government
• Network and community creation
E-Government for Mozambique: Challenges and Opportunities
• Improving quality for decision making
• Promote the use of ICT in other sectors of the society.
And the challenges consists in:
• ICT infrastructure
• Policy issues
• Human capital development and the life long learning
• Change management
• Partnership and collaboration
• Strategy
• Leadership role.
Research Approach
We examined the E-Government Strategy designed for Mozambique and we felt
the need to analyze the strategy in terms of the challenges to its implementation
through the shift to e-government model. However, this chapter was based on
literature review; no interviews or questionnaires were conducted, and does not
bring the evidence through authenticity; that means being genuine to field
experience as result of having been there, although one of the authors participated
in the development of the MOZ-EG, which may lead to bias in the analysis.
Challenges and Opportunities
The major findings of this study are summarized thus: First, given the different
definitions and visions of e-government, we nonetheless, in the context of
Mozambique, stress that the key element in e-government is not the ‘e’ but the
government. ‘e’ has to be seen as just an enabler that helps government to deliver
services in a more efficient, transparent and cost-effective manner; and second,
the change from a bureaucratic to e-government model is beneficial for
Mozambique; however, it is challenging.
‘e’ as enabler will benefit the Mozambicans in the sense that they will be
better served with information – an important resource in market coordination
and for producing of goods and services that affect the growth of the country. In
government, the strategic approach to ICTs can help optimize the focus to provide
better service to citizens and the business communities.
These better services – that are those provided when in need, according to the
requirements of the citizens, and for all citizens – can lead to poverty alleviation
in the way that, for instance, the services are available for all citizens in the same
mode. On the one hand, no one needs to bribe others in order to get something
and thus saving goods for other benefits; on the other hand, those who did not
have a chance to have some goods now, are able to have them later.
The opportunity to provide good services to the citizens has been pushing the
public sector to rethink its way to provide services to the public.
However, beyond the challenge of transforming the public sector under a
developing country’s characteristics and meeting the objectives of PARPA on the
one hand, the implementation of EG in Mozambique has to be prone to rapidly
and simultaneously automating the government, optimize, reengineer and transform
the government and on the other hand mobilize the citizens to engage in this
reform. Usually, these steps are done sequentially in accordance with literature of
public sector reform, but due to pressure or poverty alleviation, they might not
happen sequentially in MOZ-EG, which makes the process of reform more complex
and consequently, the achievement of poverty alleviation a distant dream.
Yet in the public sector reform, the shift from the bureaucracy and use of
Greenfield model in which we found all-important to consider, in the sense that
move the country to business model and citizens oriented, will face challenges
that can be summarized in building infrastructure and change the organizational
model, to achieve the development objectives.
Building Infrastructure
In the infrastructure section, the MOZ-EG strategy have to face human
infrastructure, technical (H/W, S/W) and information challenges.
E-Government for Mozambique: Challenges and Opportunities
In relation to human infrastructures, the country is characterized by a greater lack
of IT skilled personnel, and therefore, training should be imparted in all the angles –
training people for the technological part, training the citizens and the public servants
to deal with the new model of governance (e-government) and mobilize them. In
training here, we add the fact that ICTs should be introduced early in the schools to
build a generation of citizens with ICT knowledge. As the training is very demanding
in the use of ICTs, in general, and for EG, in particular, the Greenfield model here
should be extended not only to train the existing staff and, to a greater degree, new
one, but also to overcome the barriers of the country per se by training and mobilizing
people to the new model of government as a whole.
Another challenge to underline is that the strategy aims to benefit the poorest.
However, the poorest lack basic infrastructure such as electricity, water and
telecommunications. So, building technological infrastructure has to include
building of basic infrastructure, making it more expensive comparatively with the
strategies and visions where the basic infrastructure was already established.
After building the technological infrastructure, acquiring information data
for the new system is not easy, neither by transferring nor by re-introducing.
Lungo and Nhampossa (2004), in their study, say that change from the Legacy
system to another is a complex task – Legacy systems are typically too slow,
unreliable, and inflexible for handling new, more diverse and demanding tasks.
Unfortunately, the functions of tense systems are very difficult to understand,
and their replacement with a new and efficient designated system seems virtually
impossible. Replacing a Legacy system is a risky business strategy for a number
of reasons. Thinking about taking action to leverage legacy systems in which,
amongst a set of the best and the one that we think is adequate to this case is the
replacement of the legacy information system with new systems. Although it is
risky, it has the advantage of ensuring sustainability of the organization, as the
new technologies are implemented in modern technologies.
Further, good technological infrastructure, information on hand, creating
human infrastructures and willingness of the government and citizens is not
enough. The implementation of MOZ-EG needs people that are going to engage
in e-government implementation to make it a success and are willing to see changes.
Meanwhile, these people are not trained for this willingness and engagement.
Organizational Change
The organizational change and the reform of the public sector suggest opportunities
for the Mozambicans such as increasing the capacity of the government by reaching
more people, promoting the use of ICT in the pubic and business sector, quality
of service delivery to citizens and business and offering a model of governance
that is flexible due to reduction of hierarchies, network connectivity, timeliness
and speediness that are offered by the ICTs and the NPM.
Considering the effort taken place through the public reform and the
implementation of ICT strategy, it seems for us to see the Mozambican EG as a
critical meeting place for several initiatives, which might contribute significantly
to the development of the country. In this way, we advocate that every project
within EG has to have an impact on what EG will deliver; and how EG is delivered.
As a result, we assume that the Mozambican EG will differ from both the Legacy
and Greenfield models because the Vision of MOZ-EG is inextricably linked to
how MOZ-EG will be delivered – i.e., not only how data is to be handled; but where
the handler receives education; who delivers and supports the technology; and who pays
for it, for instance. Although the Greenfield model of EG Strategy appears more
immediately relevant to Mozambique, it seems important to consider that the
Mozambican EG Strategy requires not only the vision and expected results, but
also a far-reaching, structured method of enablement and sustainability.
The change to e-government bring challenges from the MOZ-EG, which
basically can be summarized in the change of organizational culture and ideology.
Nonetheless, the changes intended in e-government have to eliminate the negative
parts or the dysfunctions of the bureaucracy but leave the provision of services
and the enforcement of regulations, which are the main functions of the
government services delivery, differently executed in the business model that are
more for profit.
However, in terms of profit issues, although the implementation counts with
the help of donor agencies, there is a need to make the projects of EG profitable
to reduce dependency. Meanwhile, this brings the issues such as, if the reform
prioritizes mainly the public sector, health, education and finances, which are
not activities for profit, they are the obligations of the state to and suggest, how
E-Government for Mozambique: Challenges and Opportunities
to make them profitable to overcome the barriers’ costs of technology and, being
self-sustained, which is the basic characteristic of the business model. And, in
the side of the citizens and local communities, it should be considered as to how
to build the socio and economic capacities and capital?
In the model of EG, the state can choose to be an intermediary between the
citizens and the business, or conduct the business with the citizens itself. Both
options have consequences for the citizens.
The major challenge of MOZ-EG is not just the shift from the bureaucratic
to the e-government paradigms. This shift is the main characteristic of all the
countries that engage in e-government. E–government per se demands horizontal
hierarchy, multidirectional network, electronic exchange, etc. But the main
challenge will be how to link this change with the alleviation of poverty. For
instance, MOZ-EG should be linked to the satisfaction of the user and poverty
alleviation. This will not be just the amount, quality and velocity of information
offered by the government to the citizens, but how the citizen gets any added
value from this in their basic needs, because we might not forget that this will
have implications for the poorest who lack basic needs.
The use of the public value framework in relation to e-government is likely to
be useful for reasons such as successful e-government is important to public service
reform, and in frustration the impetus behind it may be weakening because a lot
of progress goes largely unnoticed. (Kearns 2004).
MOZ-EG implementation for poverty reduction means not just introducing
hardware and software but, re-building the society as a whole, simultaneously.
Because, the implementation of e-government demands at the same time the
software implementation, the building of the physical and human infrastructure
and organizational changes (including the changes in the culture and ideology of
governance). In order to get best results for the EG strategy, we must consider
not only bureaucratic reform, business logic and software development, but also
wider institutional and individual capacity-building, technology acquisition and
support as also political will and consensus to commit human and financial
resources on a priority basis.
(Esselina Macome Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, Mozambique. He can be reached
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Gertrudes Adolfo Macueve Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, Mozambique
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APPENDIX 2 Macueve, G. (2008) E‐government for Development: A Case Study from Mozambique. African Journal of Information Systems, 1 (1): 1‐17. 2 Macueve
e-government for Development: A Case Study from Mozambique
Research Article
Volume 1, Issue 1, June 2008, ISSN 1936-0282
e-Government for
Development: A Case
Study from
Gertrudes Macueve
University of Oslo
Globally Scalable Inform. Infrastructures Group
Oslo, Norway
[email protected]
Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM)
Faculdade de Ciências
Maputo, Mozambique
[email protected]
This paper draws upon Amartya Sen’s concept of “development as freedom” as an
effective approach to analyze e-government for development initiatives. An
interpretive analysis of three projects ongoing in Mozambique report that although
some “freedoms” are currently reachable through these initiatives, a lot needs to be
done to achieve “development as freedom.” The use of this theoretical approach
provides a valuable contribution to the research domain of ICTs for development.
This article also draws practical recommendations to assist managers of egovernment projects in Mozambique, as well as other developing countries.
e-Government, ICTs, development, poverty, economic growth, interventionalism
© 2008 AJIS
The African Journal of Information Systems, Volume 1, Issue 1, 2008.
e-government for Development: A Case Study from Mozambique
E-government has widely been advocated by governments and development
agencies as a means to obtain efficiency, accountability, and transparency in
governance (Stanforth, 2007), and supporting poverty reduction by sustaining good
governance. Such arguments have led many governments, including Mozambique,
to undertake multiple e-government initiatives to support development. In this
article, three such projects ongoing in Mozambique are analyzed: Integrated
Financial Management Information System (e-SISTAFE) for tracking poverty
reduction through controlling the finances; the Government Electronic Network
(GovNet), aiming to connect electronically public institutions such as Ministry
headquarters; and the integrated e-Land Registry and Land Management
Information System (LMIS) that aims to support the management of the country’s
natural resources such as land and forestry.
This article seeks to theoretically understand the relation between e-government
and development, and empirically examine this relationship in the context of
Mozambique. Drawing from Sen, the key research question addressed is “How
does e-government contribute to development by creating capabilities or removing
the constraints that people live with?” This study thus contributes to the field of
ICTs for developing by theoretically exploring the meaning of development
(Walsham and Sahay 2006).
Development by itself is a very complex concept usually driven by political
agendas, especially the promise of economic development. In contrast, Amartya
Sen defines “development as freedom,” implying the need for the removal of
various constraints that people suffer from or the creation of people’s capabilities
to exercise choices they value in life. Viewing development through such a broad
perspective of human capabilities opens up possibilities to take the e-government
agenda closer to achieve the ideals of development.
The rest of the article is organized as follows. The next section develops the
theoretical perspective around development and e-government. The research
methodology is then described followed by a summary overview of the three cases
studied. Following, the case analysis and discussion is presented, and then the
conclusions and recommendations.
Theoretically understanding development approaches is key to explicate the role of
e-government in development (Zheng, 2007). Thomas (2000) argues that in
whichever sense the term development is used, it embodies competing political
© 2008 AJIS
The African Journal of Information Systems, Volume 1, Issue 1, 2008.
e-government for Development: A Case Study from Mozambique
aims and social values, and contrasting theories of social change. Two key
paradigms of development are discussed.
Economic Growth View of Development
Development has always been highly influenced by the economic thought and
interventionist approach (Escobar, 1995), varying with political perspectives and
measured by increases in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The interventionist
approach concerns taking action to make development occur. This typically
involves the increase of GDP through development projects fostered or
administered by various national and international agencies such as the World
Bank. Such an approach is intentional and imposed by global polices concerning
providing aid to the ‘poor’ (Thomas, 2000).
The historically rooted and politically driven interventionist focus on development
has been widely criticized for not meeting basic human needs (Hettne, 1990;
Escobar, 1995; Sen, 1999) and not contributing to development (Spoor, 2004).
Further, this approach has been criticized for increasing the dependency of
developing countries (Chakravarti 2005) and also the size of their poverty (Escobar
1995; Thomas, 2000; Kothari and Minogue 2002). Also development has excluded
the real beneficiaries (Kothari and Minogue, 2002; Escobar, 1995), with its
Europeanized focus (Hettne, 1990) and working more as a business (Rahnema
Critics have argued that development should be seen from an entire social system
perspective, including the various deprivations that individuals experience in
realizing their inherent potential and capabilities. Such thinking has contributed to
a redefinition of the concept of development and its practice, leading to an
approach that is more people-centered and concerned about gender inequities and
participatory and sustainable development (Spoor, 2004; Chakravarti, 2005;
Todaro, 2001; Max-Neef, Elizalde, and Hoepenhayn, 1998). This redefinition is
reflected, for instance, in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s
publications on Human Development, which emphasize non-economic dimensions
of development such as welfare, social equity, gender balance, democracy, and
empowerment. A key figure in this redefinition debate is Sen (1999), who is now
Sen’s View of Development
Sen treats the freedom of individuals as the basic building block of development,
emphasizing the expansion of the “capabilities” of persons to lead the kind of lives
© 2008 AJIS
The African Journal of Information Systems, Volume 1, Issue 1, 2008.
e-government for Development: A Case Study from Mozambique
they value – and have reason to value. Capability is ‘a person’s ability to do
valuable acts or reach voluble states of being’ and ‘represents the alternative
combination of things a person is able to do or be’ (Sen, 1999 p. 30). Development
is seen as building the capability to remove the major sources of constraints that
people suffer from, “unfreedoms” (Sen, 1999), such as famines, under nutrition,
limited access to health care, education, and sanitary arrangements.
Sen describes poverty as capability deprivation rather than merely low incomes.
Low income is clearly one of the major causes of poverty, and often a principal
reason for a person’s capability deprivation. Sen recognizes that GDP can be very
important as a means to expanding individual “freedoms,” such as access to
facilities for education and health care, as well as political rights. Similarly,
industrialization or technological progress can substantially contribute to
expanding human freedoms. Therefore, Sen argues that the usefulness of wealth
lies in the things that it allows us to do, a form of substantive “freedom.”
Most importantly, the freedoms enable and are enabled by capabilities that citizens
enjoy. Sen argues that the most important instrumental freedoms, required for
development, are political freedoms, economic facilities, social opportunities,
transparency guarantees, and protective securities. Political freedoms allow citizens
to choose their representatives and participate in setting the agenda for political
discussions and express the individual will by participating in public debates and
decisions. Economic facilities consist of the use of available economic resources
for the purpose of consumption, or production, or change. This depends on the
resources owned or available for use as well as on conditions of exchange. Social
opportunities have to do with the facilities made available to citizens for health,
education, and infrastructure that allow them to live healthy and participate in
economic and political activities. Transparency guarantees concerns openness that
people can expect while dealing with one another under guarantees of disclosure
and lucidity. These serve to prevent corruption, financial irresponsibility, and
underhand dealings. Protective security serves as a social safety net for preventing
the affected population from being reduced to abject misery and death. Protective
security includes fixed institutional arrangements such as unemployment benefits
and statutory income supplements, as well as ad hoc arrangements such as famine
relief or emergency employment to those in need.
Accordingly, e-government can be analytically examined in its capability to do so.
The capability approach offers a framework of thinking (Zheng, 2007) rather than a
directly applicable toolkit for promoting development through technological
© 2008 AJIS
The African Journal of Information Systems, Volume 1, Issue 1, 2008.
e-government for Development: A Case Study from Mozambique
adoption, as means rather than ends. In the next section, the tenuous relation
between development and e-government is discussed.
e-Government for Development
Various countries and organizations have embarked on a variety of definitions and
applications ranging from the e side of it to the government aspect (Navarra and
Cornford, 2003). Typically, the tendency is to focus on the improvement of
government and the provision of services and information through the government
(Ndou, 2004). Basic human needs and capabilities are rarely ever explicitly
addressed (Madon, 2004), and the assumption often made is that people’s well
being will be achieved if there is an improvement first in the delivery of
government services. For example, the National Information System in Egypt
aimed at reducing process costs and another system in Tanzania sought to manage
process performance by delivering management control (Heeks, 2001; Backus,
Some prior studies conceptualized the e-government and development relation
based on Sen’s view of development (Madon 2004, Zheng 2005, 2007 and De
2006). In a similar vein, in this study the relation is analyzed based on the potential
of e-government initiatives to remove the unfreedoms people experience in
exercising the choices they value, both in thought and action. Without “freedom”
of access to education and health care, the capability of living longer and
participation in decision-making process, Sen will argue that development is not
taking place, no matter how the country’s GDP increases. This view has
implications for developing countries like Mozambique where poverty is high and
e-government is being promoted as a means to achieve development.
Analytical Framework
Analytically, the implications of e-government on development can be examined
by understanding the extent of constraints it can remove and the capabilities it can
offer. E-government initiatives need to transcend national programs and extend to
individuals if development is to be achieved. Table 1 summarizes the instrumental
freedoms that are used as a theoretical lens to analyze the 3 case studies.
© 2008 AJIS
The African Journal of Information Systems, Volume 1, Issue 1, 2008.
e-government for Development: A Case Study from Mozambique
Concept Definition
Political Freedoms
Capability of participating in political and public discussions.
Economic Facilities
Freedoms that citizens enjoy to transact in the market and to use
available economic resources and entitlements.
Social Opportunities
Facilities made available for citizens to allow them to live healthy
and participate in economic and political activities.
Transparency Guarantees
Openness and basic trust that citizens enjoy in their day-to-day
Protective Security
Protection from basic deprivations.
Table 1. Summary of the Analytical Framework’s Concepts
The Setting
With respect to e-government for development, Mozambique is an interesting case
from both the development and IS research perspectives. Although the country’s
economy has been growing in recent years on an average of 8 percent, roughly 50
percent of the population is still considered poor, and more than 70 percent lives in
rural areas with limited access to education and health facilities. On the Human
Development Index (HDI), the country is ranked 168th (out of 177). The national
development agenda is guided by the Action Plan for Poverty Reduction (PARPA)
which aims to reduce poverty to 45 percent by 2009. The role of ICTs is seen as a
key component of the PARPA (CPInfo, 2002).
Research Design
The present study took place from April 2005 to July 2007 and examined three
cases: e-SISTAFE, LMIS, and GovNet from the finance, land management, and
infrastructure sectors, respectively. All the projects were ongoing as a part of the
national ICT implementation strategy.
Taking the perspective of e-government as a social system, various social and
technical elements are seen intertwined and shaped within a historical context
(Walsham, 1993). Data gathering used qualitative research methods consisting of
130 interviews, including system operators, project managers, system users, and
potential project beneficiaries.
Observations were carried out in three provinces - Maputo, Sofala, and Cabo
Delgado – which were visited during the course of the field work (see Figure 1). In
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The African Journal of Information Systems, Volume 1, Issue 1, 2008.
e-government for Development: A Case Study from Mozambique
addition, secondary data, for example data related to country development policies,
ICT strategies, and project descriptions were examined.
Figure 1. Map of Mozambique and Provincial
Administrative Division
Analysis of the empirical data was done through a ‘manual’ process (Glaser and
Strauss, 1967) of (re) reading the field notes, linking theoretical concepts with the
observations, and constructing coherent themes.
According to CPInfo (2005), the Mozambican e-government strategy plays an
important role in the country’s development strategy. The three projects
empirically studied are now described.
The GovNet vision is to create a unique government platform of communication
that links the government institutions with the citizens, with a view to enhance the
efficiency and efficacy of the public institutions and their service delivery
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The African Journal of Information Systems, Volume 1, Issue 1, 2008.
e-government for Development: A Case Study from Mozambique
(Chemane, 2006). GovNet is designed to offer a secure and trusted network
connection, a cost-effective shared access to the Internet, a governmental webportal, unified e-mail system, and mechanisms for document exchange and
management. According to the Minister of Science and Technology (2005):
“GovNet increases our capacity to coordinate national efforts to foster
growth and reduce poverty in Mozambique. It is a first step but already
we are seeing more efficient inter-departmental communication, as well
as reduced administrative costs from avoiding a duplication of efforts.”
GovNet is also seen to contribute to the international development agenda, as Alan
Rossi, the chief executive officer of Development Gateway Foundation has
“… GovNet is a key component of the Development Gateway's mission to
put the Internet to work for developing countries. It enables partner
countries to better address their national development issues.”
GovNet implementation started in March 2004, aiming to connect approximately
10,000 government workers, within 115 institutions and 7,500 workstations. The
responsibility for the implementation was with the ICT Policy Implementation
Technical Unit (UTICT) and financed by the government of Italy and the
Development Gateway Foundation. In 2006, 45 public institutions (headquarters
ministries and some branches in the Capital Maputo and other provinces), were
Several studies (USAID, 2005; Gastrow and Mosse, 2002; Hanlon, 2002) have
highlighted relatively poor management of public finances in Mozambique, and its
adverse implications on national development. Financial reforms are thus a key
component of the national agenda, including the implementation of e-SISTAFE
starting in 2002. Sponsors include Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the United
Kingdom, the European Commission, the World Bank and, since 2003, Belgium.
e-SISTAFE seeks to replace a manual, weak, and outdated system with public
accounting laws dating back to 1881. The manual system cannot effectively
support decisions to ensure that resources are allocated to defined priorities of
public spending. The first modules of the system were deployed in 2004 in the
Ministry of Finance and Education.
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The African Journal of Information Systems, Volume 1, Issue 1, 2008.
e-government for Development: A Case Study from Mozambique
The government realized that the existing land registry system had became defunct
after the country’s independence in 1975, resulting in various conflicts over land
with adverse implications on promoting investments in agriculture and donor
confidence. To address some of these urgent problems, the government saw the
need for an efficient land registration and management web-based system. The
architecture of LIMS is shown in Figure 2. This system would support the
collection, archiving, processing, and administration of land records.
Figure 2. Integrated e-Land and LMIS (Mucombo, 2004)
The LMIS has been implemented since 2004 by the National Directorate of Land
and Forestry (DINATEFE 1 ). This project is sponsored mainly by the government
of Italy and Agricultural Sector Public Expenditure Programme (PROAGRI).
Table 2 summarizes the three empirical projects studied.
Direcção Nacional de Terras e Florestas
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The African Journal of Information Systems, Volume 1, Issue 1, 2008.
Initiated in
2004 as a pilot
project and
sponsored by
of Italy and
The creation of an Internet
infrastructure avoids duplication of
efforts among public institutions;
reduces cost transaction of service
delivery and information exchange,
therefore contributes to
Initiated in
2002 and
sponsored by
Denmark, the
Kingdom, the
the World
Bank and,
Initiated in
2004 and
sponsored by
of Italy,
e-government for Development: A Case Study from Mozambique
- start the new infrastructure from
- gain political will and public
- guarantee interoperability;
- “eliminate” the usage of previous
networks for the delivering of public
- guarantee sustainability of the
- human resources for building and
maintaining the network.
Create a modern financial
management system that will allow
an effective control of the public
funds, contributing to good
governance (increase transparency,
accountability, rule of law, reduce
corruption) which is a condition
for development.
- change the financial and
accounting system in use;
- policy challenges;
- guarantee sustainability of the
- human resources for building and
maintaining the network.
Create a modern and effective land
management system that will allow
effective control over the natural
resources, which in turn open
doors for good investment,
therefore contribute for
- modernize a legacy system that
functions under adverse customary
and cultural tradition;
- lack of skilled human resources;
- costs and sustainability for
acquiring proper infrastructure (GIS
systems; networks for circulating
geographic data such as maps);
- solve the barrier of culture in use of
GIS systems;
- illiteracy (users perspective).
What is not offering now?
- unified e-mail and Internet services
among public institutions;
- provision of online services;
- cost-effective through shared
access among public institutions;
- secure network;
- more literate ICT public servants
and citizens.
- running a web portal;
- installed at national and province level;
- being used by 500 public servants
distributed among 70 public institutions and
linked through nearly 400 workstations;
- provision of some downloadable forms;
- provision of some online legislation and
information service;
- running 3 applications.
- online service transactions;
- network connection at the district
- train the rest of public servants;
- created a single treasury account and
merged more than 1,200 public accounts;
- installed at national and province level;
- increased effectiveness in the payment of
public servants salaries;
- identified some irregularities in the
financial management in some public
- trained more than 2,000 public servants;
-22 ministries and 5 public institutions
using e-SISTAFE
- running a master course on ICTs in a
partnership with UEM;
- executing all stages of expenditure and
direct budget execution (commitment,
liquidation, verifications, payment,
accounting, and reporting
disbursement of funds).
- network connection at the district
- integrate all the other financial
systems still running in public
- train the rest of public servants;
- complete other modules of the
system such as: pensions
functionality; payroll functionality,
- registration of land tenures in a “batch
mode” and searching records functionality;
- make the system primarily online
- build functionalities for the
interaction with users (such as online
land registration);
- link the digitations of graphic data
and text data at the provincial level;
- produce reports at all level of
system usage;
- create the functionality for the
payment of land usage taxes.
- transparency on management of
public funds;
- modernize the financial system;
- provide information to decision
makers about land use in the
- solve land conflicts based on
reliable information provided by
digital means;
- provide and negotiate land
investment based on reliable
information provided by digital
Table 2. Summary of the Projects
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The African Journal of Information Systems, Volume 1, Issue 1, 2008.
e-government for Development: A Case Study from Mozambique
Drawing on Sen’s approach to development, the three e-government projects are
analyzed based on the evaluation criteria described in the analytical framework.
Political Freedom
Political freedom can be evaluated in many ways. However, it always relates to
peoples’ participation at all levels of governance. For that, e-government systems
have to provide the citizens with proper information and mechanisms that allow
them to voice their feelings on issues of public concern.
e-SISTAFE has achieved part of its objectives initially drawn regarding public
finances management and administration. However, its design provides fewer
opportunities for ordinary citizens to voice their feelings about the information
produced by the system. In order to incorporate the conceived political freedom in
e-SISTAFE, it is suggested that the program provide in the design of the system
outcomes, such as documentation and information (including access mechanisms)
about the national finances aimed at citizens. This documentation and information
would include national budgets; demand for grants; and allocation of plan and nonplan funds by function, department, agency, corporation, and scheme or program.
Access mechanisms would also include, for example, citizen tracking mechanisms
of the budget execution. The citizens’ say on the budget would include input on
whether the budget was well applied and opinions on how the allocation of the
budget should be according to the citizens’ priorities and needs.
Similarly, the LMIS currently allows partial electronic land registration, but its
design does not allow citizen participation in land management. Land systems for
development in Sen’s view would incorporate functionalities that allow citizens to
voice their position with regard to land distribution and titling. For example, the
land investment would not be decided only by the investor, but by people living in
that specific region and surrounding: people who know their needs in terms of land
GovNet, although it is designed to serve the public in general, does not provide
functionalities for citizens to sound off on public services. Creation of these
functionalities would greatly enhance the people’s capability to voice their views
regarding public services.
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The African Journal of Information Systems, Volume 1, Issue 1, 2008.
e-government for Development: A Case Study from Mozambique
Another way of enhancing political freedom is through participation in the
development of the systems and definition of contents for web pages and portals.
For example, potential users of the system at the lower levels have to participate in
the discussions and decisions about the “future systems.” This opens possibilities
for the users to indicate their main constraints with the current systems and suggest
Economic Facilities
Sen refers to economic facilities as the opportunities that individuals enjoy to
utilize economic resources for the purposes of consumption, production, or
exchange. The economic entitlements that a person has will depend on the
resources owned or available for use as well as on conditions for exchange.
E-SISTAFE solves the problem of liquidity at the institutional level. Given that
financial transactions are performed electronically, public services do not require
cash to solve their needs. However, this facility needs to be extended to ordinary
citizens as they are the main subjects of development initiatives.
Although not yet deployed, the land system has the potential to offer economic
facilities for citizens. It has the potential to provide a title or a document for land
holders in a reasonable amount of time that could be used in the negotiation of
credit. The process of getting a land title takes long time, often 90 days in the best
case scenario. But usually it takes years, a fact that prevents individuals from
applying for credit for investment on land either for agriculture or for other
activities, and it prevents people from making other transactions, such as building a
house or office.
GovNet offers business information to public servants through the web portal. For
example, public contests and business regulations are available, and people can
access the information on the web portal. This information can also be used in the
business market.
Transparency Guarantees
According to Sen, transparency guarantees deal with the need for openness that
people expect. While economic growth has been strong in Mozambique,
comprehensiveness and transparency of the budget is poor and corruption is high
(Transparency International 2006; USAID, 2005; Gastrow and Mosse, 2002;
Hanlon, 2002). E-SISTAFE is an important tool in addressing this issue; however,
its functionalities are still limited to top financial managers of the public sector and
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The African Journal of Information Systems, Volume 1, Issue 1, 2008.
e-government for Development: A Case Study from Mozambique
the directorates of financial departments (DAF) at province levels. Information
about budget execution is not provided to citizens.
All citizens are interested in knowing how the public budget is being used. One
way to suppress the secrecy surrounding the budget process at the central and state
level and bring transparency to the citizens is to create functionalities on eSISTAFE that are not currently available. These would enhance accountability of
both financial managers and citizens in the usage of the public resources. This
transparency is critical for open and informed debate about the proper functions of
government and how best to carry them out, and it contributes to political freedom.
In LMIS, there is limited information on how people can identify available land
(unoccupied land) in order to apply for it. The institutions which reinforce the rule
of law regarding unoccupied plots, based on the land office’s database are weak. It
is the responsibility of the citizens to identify unoccupied land (which can open
doors for bribery, among other issues).
Similar to e-SISTAFE, to reinforce transparency, LMIS would provide all the
documents and information related to the distribution of land to the citizens. For
example, it can provide a database of unoccupied land for available for different
purposes; documents about who owns what land; information about land grant
criteria; and information about land investments, such as who is exploring forestry,
the distribution of incomes of those exploring forestry; and/or what the local
communities and the state are earning from such investments.
GovNet can also contribute to transparency. Currently, the webportal shows only
the public contest announcement, its aim and the winner. It doesn’t talk about the
process of the contest, why the winner was chosen, and what criteria of evaluation
were used. Individuals are also interested in the process of the context so that they
may learn further and express their own opinions. Such information would increase
transparency and political participation. In political participation, citizens would,
for example, publicly contradict or congratulate the winner.
Social Opportunities
Social opportunities are important not only for the conduct of private lives, but also
for more effective participation in economic and political activities. The informants
detailed some social opportunities created by the described projects. For example,
e-SISTAFE gives the opportunity for civil servants to receive their salaries on time
to satisfy their basic needs, and consequently have effective participation in
economic activities. Delays on salaries provoke dissatisfaction, which can cause
© 2008 AJIS
The African Journal of Information Systems, Volume 1, Issue 1, 2008.
e-government for Development: A Case Study from Mozambique
poor productivity, and in some cases, corruption in the public sector. Receiving
salary on time, no matter the quantity, can serve as an incentive because it shows
that the institution values individuals’ work and their contribution to society.
GovNet, by providing the capability for people to download forms from the web
portal, removes the constraint of travel. To some extent it provides an opportunity
for people to save their resources (money, petrol, etc.). According to Sen,
information is instrumental for freedom, in the sense that it can be used by people
to remove other constraints. The majority of the informants said that the web portal
gives them easy access to laws, regulations, and decrees that help protect them
against injustices. Although this information is still limited to public servants,
ordinary citizens and some literate Mozambicans, the freedom of information act is
widely used to increase transparency among the attendant departments and
The ability to search land data in LMIS gives public servants the opportunity to
receive quick answers and also respond quickly to requests from the administrative
and management. Yet, ordinary citizens have no facility to conduct online land
registration or follow up of land processes online. This ability would be a valuable
contribution for citizens and it would prevent them from spending more time and
other resources taking care of land processes.
Another social opportunity that GovNet, e-SISTAFE, and LMIS give the people is
the capability to become ICT literate through these systems.
Protective Security
Protective security, according to Sen, is aimed at providing a social safety net in
order to preventing the affected population from being reduced to abject misery.
The domain of protective security includes fixed institutional arrangements to the
indigent as well as ad hoc arrangements.
Mismanagement of public finances can result in deprivation. For example, it can
lead to scarce social services, such as economic protection for the destitute. Strong
management of the scarce state resources can open opportunities for more
protective security for the destitute. E-SISTAFE also contributes to that security.
Despite LMIS facilities that allows land registers to cadastre land use and
properties, regular land surveyors are often called to solve land conflicts, for
example, between small land holders and new land applicants (often national and
international investors). To solve this problem and contribute to protective security
© 2008 AJIS
The African Journal of Information Systems, Volume 1, Issue 1, 2008.
e-government for Development: A Case Study from Mozambique
on land conflicts, LMIS must be carefully designed to protect small land users and
communities from “giants.” It can be in this sense a very useful conflict
management tool that can be used by ordinary people in their daily lives.
Insecurity of land tenure is often seen as a significant constraint to development,
and titling is intended to reduce this constraint through several avenues. LMIS
would also be useful to communities if it were possible to do online titling and
tracking land registration processes. The manual titling that has been taking place is
slow in response to the dynamics of land conflicts.
GovNet at this stage is being used at the national level and only those who have
access to the Internet and have knowledge in ICTs may access the web portal. The
majority of the population does not enjoy the facilities provided by GovNet,
creating a digital divide within the country. To prevent that, strategies that are more
inclusive must be drawn within the GovNet project. For example, it must include
mechanisms and functionalities that can help disabled people get access to the same
information, and link the web portal to media facilities, given that the latter have
more extensive coverage compared to web resources. In this way, GovNet can
contribute to protective security and to development, according to Sen.
The described e-government initiatives are undeniably important where poverty is
extensive, capital is scarce and requires good management, and transparent
mechanisms are necessary to deal with the foremost means for survival. In regards
to land, there are weak physical infrastructures and institutions. However, as argued
in this article, a development perspective which focuses on individuals’ needs and
capabilities, such as the one championed by Sen, appears to be an appropriate
approach in order to contribute to socio-development.
This study was limited by the research design, which is based on the author’s
construction of the world through interpretations. This may have created some bias
in the analysis of the findings. The second limitation is derived from the fact that
the analyzed projects were not totally deployed, thus not allowing an evaluation of
the full potentials on enhancing individuals’ capabilities. Therefore, further
research should develop mechanisms for better evaluating individual capabilities in
e-government initiatives at any point of the deployment of the project. In addition,
assessment of e-government initiatives based on the achievement of instrumental
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The African Journal of Information Systems, Volume 1, Issue 1, 2008.
e-government for Development: A Case Study from Mozambique
freedoms should be conducted so that appropriate and generalized indicators can be
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APPENDIX 3 Macueve, G. (Forthcoming) E‐government Implementation in Mozambique: Transferring Lessons across the Public Sector. South African Computer Journal. 3 E-government Implementation in Mozambique:
Transferring Lessons across the Public Sector
Gertrudes Macueve
Department of Informatics
University of Oslo, Norway
[email protected]
Although the implementation of computerized information systems in developing countries has been
ongoing for decades, the diffusion process has been slow to achieve a state of active use in organizational
settings, and examples of cross-sector sharing and learning remain very limited. This paper aims at
demonstrating aspects that can be shared across sectors within the same socio-economic and political
implementation context, and the potential benefits that can be achieved. Empirically, the paper draws
upon experiences from the study of information systems implementation within the health and land
management sectors respectively in Mozambique. The concept of “translation” drawn from ActorNetwork-Theory (ANT) is used as a lens to analyse both experiences, and the similarities and differences
are analyzed to draw specific inferences on potential domains of cross-learning. Specific learning
concerns the issues around managing the scalability and sustainability of the implementation of e-
government initiatives. Four key areas of learning identified through this analysis are: use of
participatory and action research development; enrolment of the government; enrolment of local
universities; and use of joined top-down and bottom-up implementation approach.
Keywords: District Health Information System, Land Management Information System, Translation,
Learning across sectors
1. Introduction
Mozambique is engaged in the implementation of e-government applications to support
processes of socio-economic development in different sectors. The government’s initiatives
include the production of the Mozambican ICT Policy in 2000, the ICT Implementation Strategy
which was approved by the Council of Ministers in 2002; and the e-government implementation
strategy in 2004. As examples of specific e-government projects, in 2002 the government started
to build the Government Electronic Network (GovNet), the State Financial Administration
System (e-SISTAFE) and the Land Management Information System (LMIS). These projects are
running under a larger agenda of public sector reform in Mozambique, which is being advocated
by the government, various political and research institutions and sponsored by international
financing institutions.
While e-government initiatives in Mozambique are a relatively new phenomenon originating
after 2000, ICTs initiatives in general have been ongoing since the late 1940s when the
(Mozambican) Railway Company begun using mechanical tabulators for statistical purposes
(Kluzer, 1993).The first computer (of unknown kind) was installed in 1964-65 in a Tobacco
Company (ibid). The usage of ICTs has involved various sectors such as health and banking. The
experiences gained through these efforts, we argue can provide an important basis of learning to
guide ongoing e-government initiatives. Specifically, we argue that, there are significant
similarities (and also differences) in the contexts across sectors, and there could be useful
learning that can be shared across them. For example, the problem of scarce human resources is
universal in Mozambique, and effective strategies used to deal with this in one sector can provide
useful learning to the others.
Heeks (2004) argues that ICTs have been in use in the public sector for more than 50 years with a
growing number of public agencies in virtually every country attempting to use them for various
purposes (UNDESA, 1 2003). However, there are limited attempts to compare experiences across
sectors despite the potential that exists to do so. The public sectors of many developing countries,
including Mozambique, have experienced profound management, financial and governance
crises in recent decades, and have in many cases become defunct in effectively responding to
needs of the citizens and communities they serve, especially those countries that have been
historically ravaged by colonial rule (Bangura and Larbi, 2006; Ndou, 2004). Many of these
countries are now attempting to introduce public sector reforms, a process fraught with multiple
challenges arising from the traditional bureaucratic paradigm, poor infrastructure (human and
non-human resources), sometimes undue pressure of donors and politicians to reform using quick
fix solutions without being sensitive to the local realities (Ndou, 2004; Heeks, 2004; Mhone,
2003). Within specific sectors, individual strategies and processes of reform are followed often
dictated by the agendas of the donor organizations, more so in highly indebted countries such as
Mozambique. Sharing of lessons, experiences and knowledge among sectors, and local
academics, government officials and policy makers is almost non-existent with each trying to
recreate the wheel. Trying to stimulate such cross sector learning and sharing is a primary
motivation of this paper, which we argue can probably contribute to the scalability and
sustainability of such reform initiatives.
This paper aims at making a contribution to the debate on how and what kind of learning can be
shared across sectors within the specific context of e-government in Mozambique. Specifically,
we draw upon two case studies of ICT implementation in the health and land management
sectors for the analysis.
United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs
The health sector example concerns the experience of implementation of the district health
information system (DHIS), under the umbrella of the Health Information System Programme
(HISP). HISP has the agenda to improve health information systems and management in
developing countries. In Mozambique the implementation of HISP has been ongoing for nearly
10 years, and through its analysis we can draw important lessons for the more current
implementation of LMIS in the land administration and management sector. Moreover, there can
be learning for HISP that can be gained from the approach adopted in the LMIS case. The
implementation of DHIS and LMIS are both taking place in Mozambique, a country
characterized by severe shortages of skilled human resources and shaped by a very hierarchical
organizational structure. These implementation processes, as we will argue, follow different
approaches and experience both similar specific challenges. The concept of ‘translation’ from
Actor-Network-Theory is used to describe and compare the implementation experiences from the
two sectors, with a view to draw on lessons that can be shared across the sectors.
This article is organized as follows: the next section describes the concept of translation from
ANT which provides the underlying theoretical basis for the analysis of the two sets of
implementation processes. The third section presents the research methods used in this study.
The fourth section describes the two case studies drawing upon the concept of translation. The
analysis of both cases is presented next. Lastly, lessons learned and contributions from this study
are presented.
2. The Translation Process
2.1. The notion of translation
This paper uses the concept of ‘translation’ from ANT, which has its roots in the “sociology
of translation” (Callon, 1980; 1986) to understand the process of implementation of DHIS and
LMIS. These implementation processes are immersed in a complex contextual and political
environment involving actors and various other technical and non-technical elements.
The concept of translation is useful in analyzing actors within a network; how actors are
identified, how their roles are defined, and how their interests are aligned in such a way that
certain entities control others (Callon, 1986; Latour, 1987). ANT is also concerned with the
creation and maintenance of co-extensive networks of human and non-human elements. In the
case of information technology, these networks include people, organizations, software,
computer and communications hardware, and infrastructure standards (Walsham, 1997).
Furthermore, politics and governments represent non-human elements of the network which also
shape the stabilization or not of the network. ANT assumes both human and non-human actors
are equal within the network, that is, there is no difference in the ability of technology, humans,
animals, or other non-humans to act (and that there are only enacted alliances). Also, it does not
account for pre-existing structures, such as power, but instead sees these structures as emerging
from the actions of actors within the network.
ANT’s focus on empirical case studies that provide a rich description of networks has been
accused of ignoring the larger social and political context, and thereby undermining the
possibility of effective social, ethical and political critique (Fuller, 2000; Star, 1991).
Nevertheless, there has been an increase in ANT-based information systems studies (See e.g
Avgerou, 2002; Macome, 2002; Madon et al., 2004, Nhampossa, 2005; Cordella and Shaikh,
2006). In some of these studies the concept of translation has been used to explain the link
between technological and non-technological elements of a specific network (Akrich, 1992;
Macome, 2002; Madon et al., 2004; Nhampossa, 2005).
According to Callon and Latour (1981), translation means understanding all the negotiations,
intrigues, calculations, acts of persuasion and violence thanks to which an actor or force takes, or
causes to be conferred to itself, authority to speak or act on behalf of another actor of force.
Translation can also be seen according to Callon (1991) as the definition that every actor makes
of the other actors in the actor-network. To translate is to displace, but is also to express in one’s
own language what others say and want: it is to establish oneself as a spokesperson. According to
Nhampossa (2005), the translation perspective offers an alternative conceptualization to that of
“diffusion” (Rogers, 2003) of the processes of technology transfer and the spread of innovations.
The concept of translation is useful in exploring how a group of actors can be brought together
around a particular goal, and the stabilization of the resulting network. The fundamental idea is
that human and non-human actors interact to form the networks of heterogeneous entities of the
world we live in.
Interactions between actors are the building blocks of networks. Ongoing translations at a variety
of levels are a key source of social order, generating institutions, governments, organizations and
agents that exist over time. But control by any given actor – even by the author of a network is
necessarily limited because power is diffused amongst the actors (Latour, 1986). Negotiations are
part of the translation process in which actors need to construct common definitions and
meanings, define representatives, and co-opt each other in the pursuit of individual and collective
In ANT, every actor in a network is seen to have agency and capable of resistance or
accommodation, so there must be some ‘reason’ that encourages them (actors) to be involved in a
network. Each actor (whether a person, group, company, machine, nation) has its own diverse set
of interests, thus a network’s stability will result from the continual translation of interests. While
between humans, translation is analogous to negotiation of common interests, between them and
non-humans, the interaction will be through the design of scripts and how these are inscribed in
the artefact itself. Furthermore, policies, behaviours, motivations, and goals are translated from
one actor to another, and actors are themselves translated and changed in their interactions with
others (Callon, 1986).
2.2. Moments of Translation
Callon (1986) describes translation as consisting of four moments derived from studying
problematization, interessement, enrolment and mobilisation. Table 1 presents a summary of the
4 moments which are described below.
Problematization is the first moment, during which primary actors negotiate questions such as:
What is the problem that needs to be solved? Who are the relevant actors? It is in this moment
when delegates that will represent groups of actors need to be identified and an Obligatory
Passage Point (OPP) established, so that the proposed solution becomes indispensable. The OPP
refers to the node in the network through which all the actors who have interest in the problem
have to pass. The primary actors make the OPP indispensable to other entities by forcing them to
accept this as a way forward.
The moment of interessement is aimed at getting the actors interested and negotiating the terms
of their involvement. Interessement involves a process of convincing other actors to accept
definitions of the primary actor and the creation of incentives. The primary actor works to
convince the others that the roles it has defined are acceptable. Other actors become interested in
the solution proposed. They change their affiliation to a certain group in favour of the new actornetwork. Furthermore, the actors then need to be isolated to limit external influences that could
challenge the legitimacy of the solution. The primary actors seek to lock the others into place by
interposing themselves and defining linkages between the others.
Enrolment is the third translation moment during which the principal actors define the roles that
are to be played and the way in which the others will relate to one another within these networks.
Actors accept (or not) the roles that have been defined for them during interessement. For
enrolment to be successful it requires more than just one set of actors imposing their will on
others; it also requires these others to yield. Finally, in the mobilisation moment, the relevant
actors borrow the force of their passive agent allies and turn themselves into their representatives
or spokesperson. A spokesperson speaks on behalf of others, the entities he, she, or it constitutes
(animals or machines who do not speak or masses of humans who defer to the spokespersons).
Thus, spokespersons simplify networks of others (who may or may not consent) by representing
their interests, attributing identity, establishing roles, and advancing a course of action.
Table 1. Summary of the 4 moments of translation
Moment of Translation
Mobilization of Allies
The primary actor defines the problem, the solution and identifies the relevant actors.
The primary actor convinces other actors that its solution is better than other solutions.
Roles are assigned to the actors accepting the solution.
Actors become spokespersons.
The notion of translation is an important tool to describe and analyze how the actor-network
grows, changes and stabilizes (or not) during the process of ICT implementation. Within such a
conceptualization, the effectiveness of the deployment of the technology is thus dependent on
how the actor-network (people and things) is created and strengthened overtime (Callon, 1986;
Latour, 1999). Continuous chains of translations along the links in the network are necessary to
align and keep the actors involved and to create and stabilise the actor-networks (Latour, 1987).
Translation leads to the alignment of the different actors and gradual institutionalization or
routinization of information systems ultimately leading to development of durable networks
(Braa et al., 2004).
In this study, we discuss the four moments of translation in the implementation as inferred in the
two cases and examine the similarities and differences, and also the related outcomes. This helps
to understand what is the mutual learning that can take place and how.
2.3. The concept of translation as used in IS research
Various studies on IS implementation have drawn upon the concept of translation to
understand how the process of translation unfolds and the associated outcomes. For example, in
the context of Mozambique, Macome (2002) in her analysis of 3 cases studies of implementation
of ICT – telecentres, bank, and in the energy sector - discussed factors that contribute towards
either stabilising or unsettling the OPP. Her findings emphasize the importance of the role of the
actor’s involvement and their efforts to introduce new actors, the importance of good
communication skills in the problematization and interessement moments of translation to
convince and persuade other actors to transit the OPP. Consequently, the enrolment depends on
the capacity for negotiations of the initiators to convince other actors to enrol in the initiative,
which Macome argues is fundamentally based on communication skills.
In a study conducted by Macadar and Reinhard (2005) in a case of implementation of ecitizenship project in Brazil (São Paulo), tried to understand the interplay between actors
involved in the development of an organization for telecentres network management. They found
that the involvement of NGOs was important and provided the know-how required to reach the
objectives of the project. The authors advised a kind of top-down approach at the beginning of
the creation of the network and a bottom-up one after a while. This means that in the
problematization moment a top-down approach should be used, followed by a bottom-up one
during the subsequent translation moments. This strategy is useful for political reasons such as
getting earlier in the project people with know-how and with powerful decision-making
Silva (2007) viewed the translation from a power perspective. In his analysis of the
implementation of land information systems in Guatemala, he found that it is important in the
problematization phase to build a common understanding of the problem and solution between
the initiators, that is, to construct the OPP to have similar meanings in the actor network. The
solution has to address practical and tangible problems, which in turn will influence the success
of the problematization. In later moments of translation, cooperation and coordination among the
organizations involved is important.
The above cases outline different strategies to deal with the implementation of ICTs through the
four moments of translation, which are summarized in Table 2 below, along with some other
Table 2. Key elements of translation in IS in developing countries
Translation Process (Moments)
Mobilization of Allies
Strategies Reported in IS studies
Good communication skills of primary actors to
convince and persuade other actors.
Reach a common understanding between others.
Good capacity for negotiations of the primary actors.
Isolate the actors from other influences.
Enrol NGOs at the begging of the project.
Make extensive use of media and professional
advertising campaign.
Meet the actors’ needs and expectations; provide
incentives for actors.
Keep alliances stable.
Macome (2002)
Silva (2007)
Macome (2002)
(Madon et al. 2004)
Makadar and Reinhard (2005)
Madon et al. (2004)
Madon et al. (2004)
Silva (2007)
3. Research Context and Methodology
This study is empirically grounded in an ongoing research on e-government
implementation in Mozambique. Epistemologically it falls under the category of an interpretative
study, as the aim is to understand the phenomena of implementation via meanings that people
assign to it. Different people’s interpretation of the same situation differ (e.g the informants’ and
the researchers’), and the aim is thus not the construction of an “objective” account, rather a more
relativistic one (Orlikowski and Baroudi, 1991). Rather than attempting to generalise from a
setting to a population, an understanding of the deeper structure of a phenomenon is sought,
“aimed at producing an understanding of the context of the information system, and the process
whereby the information systems influences and is influenced by its context” (Walsham, 1993: 45).
The study uses a comparative approach to identify common factors and particularities that have
contributed in shaping the implementation of DHIS and the land information system, including
an understanding of the respective contexts, the strategies adopted around the individual systems,
and the capacity available to stabilize the network. This approach explores features and factors of
each system that might have contributed to the status quo situation of the networks.
While the present research on land information system started in 2006, I have been researching egovernment projects being implemented in Mozambique since 2004, in the land and financial
sectors. The case of the land information system has been interesting since land in Mozambique
is an important asset in the government strategy for poverty alleviation and the land information
system is considered as a flagship e-government system. Also, given the history of colonial rule
and civil war in Mozambique, land becomes a much contested issue and thus subject to various
interests and agendas. Empirically I have tried to understand the interplay between land, poverty
alleviation and e-government.
Data collection methods used in the research were formal and semi-structured interviews, review
of documentation, direct and participatory observation. I conducted interviews with managers of
the land information system, technicians, system users in the land administration sector and egovernment managers. I also had the opportunity to visit some sites (provinces) where the system
was being implemented and to talk to the users. In this study, I played the role of a direct
participant observer, spending days in the office with systems’ users, observing what they were
doing and how. In addition, the surrounding existing and new organizational procedures were
also observed. For example, in one month while conducting research in one of the provinces –
Maputo, I used to spend the first part of the day observing the users of the systems and other
workers recording what they were doing in the office and the manner in which they were
interacting with the system. I even spent 2 days learning how to enter data in the system and
practising its use. In Cabo-Delgado and Sofala province, I spent one week in each place
interviewing and observing various system users.
At the top level, appointments with managers were difficult to obtain and strict time slots was
allocated for the interviews. Thus time spent in the offices and interviews with the managers was
relatively short (about one hour with each manager). A summary of interviews conducted is
presented in Table 3.
Table 3. List of conducted interviews
From February to August 2006
Title/Position of the interviewee
ICT and Planning Advisor
ICT and Planning Advisor
Training and Certification Adviser
(National Level)
Cartographer (Perform analysis of
land tenures)
Cartographer (Enter data in
electronic systems)
5 users of LMIS and LHAS
(graduated and not graduated in
different areas)
3 Cartographers
(National Level)
DINAGECA(National Level)
Directorate of
Agriculture (DPA)
4 Representatives of different
Institutions dealing with land
tenures within DINAGECA
Chief of DINAGECA at the
province level
6 workers of DINAGECA dealing
with land tenures
1 cartographer
1 land-surveyor
Distrital Directorate
of Agriculture
Administrative Post
1 cartographer and “head of a
From January to February
Total Number of Interviews
Computer Network Specialist
3 Geographer
DINAGECANational Level
1 Geographer + 4 recent graduates
in Geography
National Institute of
statistics (INE)
4 lectures
Manager of LMIS
DINAGECANational Level
1 Director
3 users of LMIS and
(graduated and not graduated in
different areas)
5 workers of DINAGECA, but and
non users of LMIS
1 Director
4 users of LMIS and
(graduated and not graduated in
different areas)
5 workers and non users of LMIS
Content of the Interview
ICT strategy and policy
e-government in Mozambique
ICTs and development
e-government in Mozambique
e-government projects in Mozambique
The history of LMIS
Challenges and Opportunities of LMIS
e-government for development
The history of LMIS and usability
Procedures of acquisition of land tenures and registration
The history of LMIS and usability
Procedures of acquisition of land tenures
System use; potentialities; problems and Procedures of
acquisition of land tenures and registration; System
Demonstration (LMIS AND LHAS)
Procedures of acquisition of land tenures and registration; ICT
knowledge; Curriculum of the school of Geodesy and
Cartography; land mapping; GIS at school and work.
The role of different institutions in attribution of land tenures;
Use of ICTs for land registration and management.
ICTs at the province level
Challenges and Opportunities of LMIS
Land registration and Management:
ICTs at the province level
Procedures of acquisition of land tenures and registration: daily
life and challenges.
ICTs at the district level
Procedures of acquisition of land tenures and registration: daily
life and challenges at the district level.
Cartography and Land Registration in the colonial time;
The process of land demarcation and consultations to the
community for land attribution.
e-government infrastructure
hosting LMIS
Mapping and Land survey
GIS courses at the university degree;
GIS knowledge and application in work practices; mapping
land survey; knowledge and use of maps in daily life;
Mozambican culture on maps; INE relationship with other
public organizations;
GIS knowledge and use of maps
LMIS implementation
Challenges and Opportunities
System Demonstration (LMIS)
Land registration and Management
Land registration
Knowledge on ICTs, maps, GIS and LMIS
Land registration and Management
Land registration
Knowledge on ICTs, maps, GIS and LMIS
Each province in Mozambique has no more than 6 users of LMIS. LMIS is being implemented
by the National Directorate of Geography and Cadastre (DINAGECA), a government institution
that is responsible for land management and administration, with offices at the national level,
province and districts. The number of users officially trained in the use of LMIS for each
province by DINAGECA is 3, except in Maputo. Interviews for this paper were conducted in
three provinces, Maputo, Sofala and Cabo-Delgado. Maputo being the capital and the hub for
ICT projects was thus important to study, and Sofala and Cabo-Delgado represent the Central
and Northern parts of the country respectively. Suggestions for the focus in these three provinces
came from the LMIS manager based on his view of representativeness of the project issues.
For the case of DHIS, I was a member of the HISP project during my master’s course that started
in August 2001 and was framed within the HISP philosophy of action research and participatory
approach. I participated in some training sessions in the provinces and also in meetings and
seminars conducted by HISP at the province, district and MoH levels. I also participated in the
customization of DHIS and in the process of introducing data into the DHIS. I had the chance to
practically observe some of the implementation dynamics in certain facilities.
After completing my master’s thesis in 2003 I continued to indirectly follow the HISP activities
through discussions with other HISP members and a reading of the masters and doctoral theses
and other publications produced through this project. In addition to my own primary work during
2001-2003, I studied various documentation based on articles published in journals and
conferences about implementation of DHIS in Mozambique. Examples of some of these
publications are summarized in Table 4, which gives an overview of the kinds of issues
Table 4. Summary of HISP publications about Mozambique
Author (Year)
Braa et al. (2001)
Published by
Type of Publication
Journal Paper
Chilundo (2004)
Phd Thesis
Mosse (2005)
Phd Thesis
Nhampossa (2005)
Phd Thesis
Lungo (2003)
Master Thesis
Skobba (2003)
Saugene (2005)
Master Thesis
Master Thesis
Mavimbe et al. (2005)
BioMed Central
(BMC) Public Health
Journal Paper
Braa et al.(2004)
Journal Paper
Issues addressed
The Status of ICTs in the Mozambican Health Sector and the
Potential Usage of ICTs at the district and provincial level.
Sustainability and Integration of different health information
systems in the context of donor-dependant country.
Communication Practices and Social Identity shaping the
implementation of computer-based health information systems
in Mozambique.
Technology transfer and DHIS translation in the context of
Legacy systems in the HIS; Suitability of DHIS in supporting
effective decision-making process through provision of data
with good quality; developing gateways to link legacy systems
with DHIS.
Legacy and Systems development in Mozambique
Use of Spatial data within the public health sector; the
integration of DHIS with GIS systems; developing migration
data software.
Implications of poor data quality and information systems in
the provision of efficient health care services, especially
immunization programmes.
Building the network of HISP; Factors contributing or not to
the sustainability and scalability of HISP.
In summary, the interpretation of HISP that I bring into discussion is a result of years of
participant observations of the implementation of DHIS followed by secondary analysis of
research findings. This is different from the land system where I have been engaged in taking
notes of the interviews and observations. In the case of the LMIS there were distinct periods of
observations separated from the interviews.
Electronic Journal on Information Systems in Developing Countries
Department of Informatics of University of Oslo
Analysis of data entailed drawing out key themes. Successive reading and reflection of my hand
written notes from the interviews, observations and summaries of literature reviews constituted
the source of information to build themes. Eccentricities and repeated issues from the interviews
inspired the creation of themes. The historical perspective which I had on the HISP initiative
helped to further give meaning to the themes. Themes within and across the cases were compared
to develop implications for learning across sectors.
4. The Case Study
4.1. The Case of the DHIS implementation in Mozambique
4.1.1. Background
The implementation of the paper based Health Information Systems (HIS) in Mozambique
was first established in 1979 to cover all levels of the health services (national, province and
district) including the different health programs such as malaria, tuberculosis, mother and child
health, and family planning. Nationally, the implementation of HIS was a response to the need
for restructuring of the health sector in the post-independence period. Internationally, following
the Alma Ata Conference in 1978 there was an expressed need to adopt the primary health care
(PHC) approach as a strategy to extend health services to the most peripheral areas in the country
(Lippeveld et al., 2000). The PHC strategy of implementation was through the district health
model advocated by WHO as it was seen to be the most effective way of providing both
community and patient-specific services that are both specific and local (Amonoo-Larstson,
1989). An important aspect of the district–based model was to develop a computer based HIS
that could support analysis and use of information for decision-making and management (Braa
and Hedberg, 2002), and thus contribute to enhancing the effectiveness of health services
delivery (Lippeveld et al., 2000).
In 1992, the Ministry of Health (MoH) revised the HIS, which resulted in the integration of
various health programs, reduction of the number of the data collection instruments from 60 to
12 forms and the introduction of a computerized HIS (called SISPROG) in all the provincial
health offices and at the national level (Braa et al., 2001). This approach did not follow the WHO
advocated district model, and also SISPROG suffered from various technical constraints. As a
result, many of the other health programs started to develop their own independent systems on
different platforms and funded by different donors to cater to their needs unmet by SISPROG.
For example, Nhampossa (2005) reports that in order to address the problem of fragmentation
contributed and not addressed by SISPROG, a foreign expert employed at the MoH developed an
integrated spreadsheet system called SIMP in 2002 that was subsequently implemented in all
provinces and at the national level (MISAU, 2003).
Even today, SISPROG, SIMP and a variety of other computerized systems are present in the
health services involving different technological solutions built upon DBASE, Visual Basic,
Access, Excel, Lotus and operating systems such as MS-DOS and MS-Windows. HISP was
presented as the possible solution for the problems caused by the fragmentation of various
systems and their inadequacy to meet the informational needs of the health services.
After this brief historical overview, I describe the implementation process of HISP through the
lens of the four moments of translation.
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4.1.2. Problematization of the HISP Initiative
Initiated in South Africa, HISP aims at supporting HIS and decentralization, and is ongoing
in various developing countries including Mozambique, India, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Malawi,
Botswana and Nigeria. According to Braa et al. (2004), the primary goal of HISP is to design,
implement, and sustain HIS following a participatory and action research approach to support
local management of health care delivery and information flows. For that, HISP used a
Scandinavian approach in information systems implementation. The Scandinavian approach
relies on the participatory development of technology and the creation of knowledge. It is based
on action research with an explicit, political agenda of boosting the capacity of the workers and
the unions in their negotiations with management (Braa et al., 2004). This approach was
motivated by a perceived threat from technology, the need for developing knowledge about the
technology in question, and actively propose alternative to the management (Nygaard, 1979). In
this perspective there is a guaranteed sustainability and the escalation of the actor-network.
Action research is in general used with the aim of improving organization strategies, practices,
and knowledge of the environment within which they practice. Consequently, action research
improves the quality of an organization and its performance.
The goal of HISP encompasses processes to support the improved use of information;
organizational and human resources development; and developing theoretical and practical
knowledge about the challenges of implementing HIS in developing countries. Parallel to this,
HISP has developed a computer database known as the district information software (DHIS) to
help health workers in the analysis and dissemination of information (Braa et al., 2004).
DHIS is a database system first developed at the University of Western Cape, South Africa, as an
open source software package based on Microsoft Office 97 (Braa and Hedberg, 2002).
Microsoft Office is widely prevalent in Mozambique thus enabling its easier spread (Kaasbøll
and Nhampossa, 2005). DHIS is an integrated health management information system for
registering and processing routine data, semi-permanent data, and survey data, with a strong
emphasis on using information for local action. The software is distributed free of charge on a
CD or the Internet from the developers in Cape Town. The open source code also provides free
redistribution and ability to rework the source code.
In Mozambique, HISP is based at Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM), and was established in
1998 as a collaboration between the Mozambican MoH, UEM, University of Oslo and the
University of Western Cape. The Norwegian Council of Universities’ Committee for
Development Research and Education (NUFU) initially sponsored the HISP initiative. These
actors showed aligned interests in computerizing and improving the health information system in
DHIS was problematized by HISP after a survey conducted by them on the use of ICT within the
health sector, which led to a recommendation for the need for the development of a district-based
health system to support the PHC approach. The primary actor in this case is HISP who studied
the problem and proposed a solution. Then, DHIS was positioned by HISP as the OPP for
solving the HIS problems, and they wanted actors such as the MoH (decision makers), health
services at province and district levels (end users) other donor agencies and UEM to accept, and
be enrolled in the network. The enrolment of the MoH was crucial for obtaining official sanction
and its subsequent institutionalization of the DHIS as the national system. The role of UEM
(informatics and faculty of medicine) within the network was to provide computers, IS and
public health expertise who could develop and implement the system through an action research
project. Incentives of masters and doctoral scholarships were provided from the universities to
enrol their interests. The need for enrolling other donors was to largely pre-empt them trying to
introduce other systems. By enrolling the end-users, the aim was to ensure a demand side push
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for the system, and to try and make DHIS as the OPP for their HIS routine reporting needs. The
system was enabled in the local language of Portuguese so as to help this enrolment process, and
make the software “speak on behalf” of the end users.
The DHIS was positioned as a solution responding to both globally and locally defined problems.
The global problem stems from the unfulfilled WHO mandate of developing decentralized HIS,
and locally it represented the problem of poor informational support for health services delivery.
Computerized information systems were positioned by the government as a necessary tool to
respond to the need and problems of implementing reforms.
4.1.3. Interessement
After the positioning of DHIS as the solution to the problem of poor HIS and the need for
reforms, the next step was to try and convince other actors to be enrolled in the network. Through
a number of meetings organized by HISP and MoH, in 1999 both actors signed a formal
agreement in which three pilot settings were established for the implementation of DHIS. While
through this agreement, formal cooperation was established, the MoH did not provide the official
sanction required to the end users to engage with this new system. A chicken and egg situation
resulted with the MoH wanting HISP to demonstrate results on the ground before giving such
official orders, but without these orders it was almost impossible for HISP to show effective
results. This situation resulted in part too, by technical concerns that DHIS data entry screen did
not have the same layout as those in paper forms which health staff were used to. And also,
DHIS did not have a functionality that could import data from a legacy system – SIMP.
Through the work of master students, the old SIS-PROG database was analyzed, migration tools
were developed and data was exported into a full national DHIS database (Skobba, 2003; Lungo,
2003). Further customization on user interfaces, improvement of reporting tools and stable links
to SIMP were done as requested by the Department of Health Information at the MoH (Aanestad
et al., 2005). HISP, then replicated exactly the data entry forms, elements and reports as they are
in the manual system, so that users did not fear that something would be lost through the change
over. Furthermore, through the inscribed features of flexibility and local control, and available
functionalities for conducting local analysis (such as through the generation of graphs and
charts), the HISP team tried to demonstrate the value add as compared to SIS-PROG, and a
solution to the problems that were undermining the national HIS such as the fragmentation of
different legacy systems. Integration through the means of technological solutions such as
gateways were created, which however, could not get the required institutional acceptance in
absence of formal MoH orders.
In parallel with the customization of DHIS, in the absence of such an official order, HISP tried to
convince also the health workers and managers about the value of DHIS through large scale
training sessions which focussed not only on issues of computer awareness and DHIS, but also
on data quality, and use of information for local decision-making. In some of these activities, the
MoH staff was also fully involved in facilitating HISP’s activities.
The multidisciplinary HISP team in Mozambique that conducted the training was composed of
senior IS researchers, PhD students in computer sciences and medicine and international masters’
students in IS and public health. According to, Nhampossa and Sahay (2005) PhD and master
courses were conducted within a framework of action research where the project work would
provide the empirical basis of the research and would aim at solving real life problems. This was
another incentive provided by HISP both to the students and also the health services.
Furthermore, the HISP team played an important mediating role in facilitating interaction and
communication between the MoH staff and province and district level field workers. Such
interaction has historically not existed in the past and the presence of the HISP team seen as
- 12 -
being relatively “neutral”, helped to diffuse some of the historically existing gaps due to power
structures (Puri et al., 2004).
Notwithstanding, the lack of a functional HIS had also implications at the international level. For
example, in 2004 the European Union (EU) sent to the MoH a Consultant in Informatics to work
on behalf of them. This consultant developed a software with the requirements provided by MoH
which directly challenged the DHIS. The consultant made a technical assessment of the DHIS in
which he strongly criticized it, thus creating a space for his own software to be introduced. The
software developed by this consultant is currently being used at all the provincial directorates.
Many other challenges were faced by HISP. For example, the “image” members or students and
not professionals undermined the credibility of HISP in the eyes of the MoH. Also, South Africa
was positioned as the main developer of DHIS and source for technical support to the
implementation of the DHIS in Mozambique. This reflected a lack of local technical capacity of
the HISP team.
4.1.4. Enrolment
During the implementation of DHIS, the three pilot settings (provinces of Inhambane, Gaza
and Niassa) were first to be enrolled in the network. Furthermore, HISP’s strategy provided
opportunities for the staff at UEM to upgrade their educational qualifications (Masters and
Doctoral), to conduct action research and contribute to solving real country problems. Health
workers, especially those working at the statistical and information department were enrolled in
varying degrees based on their aptitude towards computers, through the intensive processes of
training and capacity building conducted by the HISP team.
The strategy of HISP to enrol more people was through demonstration and customization of the
DHIS and how it could help address their local needs. Through allowing users to apply the
system to local analysis and action, an attempt was made to empower the workers through
information, and with it to attempt to improve the coverage and quality of primary health care
services. However, these local attempts were in our view inadequate to create a robust and
stabilized network in the absence of “orders from the top.” There were various other challenges
such as poor infrastructure, heavy workload of staff, inadequate resources, large geographical
distances (Chilundo, 2004; Mosse, 2005; Nhampossa, 2005).
4.1.5. Mobilization of Allies
In spite of HISP being a network and not an individual that could provide support to the
implementation of DHIS, mobilization has been to some extent difficult due to many problems
including the existence of competing systems such as the one of the EU consultant. Nevertheless,
HISP in Mozambique has helped to create at least a set of people who now believe in the value
of DHIS and its potential role in supporting the local use of information. However, this group is
limited to the 3 provinces where the pilots have been carried out and to a certain extent in the
MoH. The HISP team in Mozambique whose spokesperson is UEM is still negotiating with the
MoH (a spokesperson of HIS users, pilot provinces and state’s interests on the health sector) to
get the DHIS to be accepted as the national data base for data analysis and reporting. UEM
became the spokesperson as HISP in Mozambique was hosted there. Internally (in HISP) there is
a team representative who speaks on behalf of the whole team members selected under the team
rules. The MoH became a spokesperson as officially the unique organization to deal with the
health sector and the respective information systems. Internally, the department of Information
systems at the MoH is the spokesperson in the negotiations.
However, the negotiations have also been influenced by delays originated by changes in the
political structure and other internal reasons. For instance, with the last presidential elections
- 13 -
held in 2005, the new government has made changes in the personnel and structure of
governance including the Minister of Health. The new leadership came with its philosophy and
changes within the MoH. For example, people from MoH that were initially negotiating with
HISP on the implementation of DHIS were all moved from their positions at the MoH. In the
meanwhile, HISP is currently making efforts to fully customize the DHIS so that it can
comprehensively support the national HMIS needs.
Figure 1, summarizes the DHIS actor-network.
Figure 1. DHIS actor-network
The DHIS actor-network presented in Figure 1 is composed of both technical and non-technical
components. The technical part is composed by the HIS implemented by the MoH, the software
supporting HIS, namely the paper based system, SISPROG, SIMP, and other computerized
information systems. The DHIS is competing with the software being used including the new one
- 14 -
developed by the EU consultant. DHIS is developed by HISP and customized by the local team
(HISP-Mozambique). Customization includes the accommodation of the new requirements set by
the MoH. This team is also responsible for training users of DHIS in the pilot provinces.
The implementation of HIS is influenced by globalization in general, which sets international
rules and patterns ruling HIS. The need for computarization of HIS, given to the development of
ICTs around the world is another factor influencing the HIS. Locally, the need to accommodate
the HIS within the context of the country is another factor that has shaped the current HIS.
The University of Oslo is the coordinator of the global HISP team which offers master and PhD
Degree courses for HISP team members. Negotiations of the implementation of DHIS take place
between HISP global and the MoH. The philosophy of HISP in implementing DHIS is to respond
to the mandate of the globalization, specifically the creation of district health information
systems that can respond to the local needs of information for decision making.
4.2. The Case of a Computerized Land Management Information System
4.2.1. Background
The National Directorate of Geography and Cadastre (abbreviated to DINAGECA 4 in
Portuguese) under the aegis of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, is an
executive and government institution in Mozambique responsible for national mapping
(topographic and thematic), land administration and management (national land cadastre and
related archives). DINAGECA is responsible for establishing, providing and maintaining the
national geodetic network, national maps series, national cadastral atlas, administration and
management of all land rights concessions process. DINAGECA is also responsible for
information and data on land use and land cover for better planning and decision making;
definition of policies; standards, norms and procedures on geo-referenced data and information.
The Constitution of the Republic of Mozambique states that land belongs to the State and cannot
be sold, or transferred, or mortgaged, or given as collateral. National and international citizens
are only given by the state the right to use the land not to own. This is done through local
procedures of land concession. In each province of the country, the Ministry of Agriculture and
Rural Development has its own directorates, where the Serviços Provinciais de Geografia e
Cadastro (SPGC) is located. At the district level, there is a representative of DINAGECA in the
Distrital Directorates of Agriculture and Rural Development (DDA). The whole country is
administratively divided into 10 provinces, 128 districts, 394 administrative posts, 1042 localities
and 68 villages. From the national level down to the administrative posts, DINAGECA has its
Little is said, written and known about the LMIS from the period between 1975 (when
Mozambique gained independence) to 1991. PASS 5 (2003) states that, many (though not all) of
the land records and the geodetic information was destroyed after the independence. During my
research, I observed some maps designed during the period between 1920s and 1960s still in use.
The land management system during the period 1975-1990 was completely manual. There were
numerous overlapping land requests and land use concessions, many of which were in
competition with existing community lands (PASS, 2003). Consequently, the land registry
became defunct, and this resulted into conflicts over land.
Direcção Nacional de Geografia e Cadastro has recently changed to Direcção Nacional de Terras e Florestas (DINATEFE)
Programme of Advisory Support Service
- 15 -
The government became increasingly aware of the growing proliferation of land use conflicts, for
example, the fact that such a climate was not favourable for investments in agriculture. Land
conflicts were also of great concern to international donors. To deal with these conflicts over
land and to develop new land policy, the Ministry of Agriculture created a commission composed
by nationals, international agencies, NGOs, UNDP and FAO (PASS, 2003).
Land conflict was seen to result from the lack of proper functioning institutions and information
systems for efficient land registration and management. As a result, a modern, efficient and
reliable electronic system was seen as a tool that could solve the existing problems relating to the
collection, archiving, processing and administration of land records.
4.2.2. LMIS Initiative
In 1991, with aid from SIDA 6 , a new electronic system was built, including the
development of basic knowledge on computer awareness. A Swedish developer was in charge of
the difficult task of developing the computerized system called Land Application Handling
System (LAHS). In 1997, the first version of the system was installed in all the 10 provincial
directorates of DINAGECA, and at the national level. However, according to some of the
respondents, the system did not include graphic and map data. Data from the provincial
directorates was transferred to the national offices through CDs and diskettes leading to data
duplication and missing data in many cases. Furthermore, the Year 2000 (Y2K) problem also
influenced the functioning of the system, as it was not Y2K compliant. Consequently, the system
was prone to many errors.
To address these problems and to incorporate the new e-governance mandate, in 2004,
DINAGECA contracted a South African consultant to build a new system called LMIS. This
South African consultant used the old system LAHS as a reference. LMIS was developed as a
web-based system that is now currently running under the government network (GovNet) 7 , and is
considered an e-government system. Broader aims of LMIS are to provide online services to the
citizens such as information about land, submissions of the land application through the internet;
follow up of the applications, etc. Furthermore, LMIS aims at linking the different ministries and
institutions (22 in total) that deal with land issues in the country.
After this brief introductory review of the context, I describe the implementation process through
the translation lens.
4.2.3. Problematization
The implementation of the computerized land registration and management system was
problematized by DINAGECA (primary actor) as the need to have an efficient instrument that
could provide required information for DINAGECA and other land decision makers. This
information would be important for DINAGECA as the country’s land administrator for efficient
land conflict management. The information would also be used as the basis for decision making
for investments in agriculture, a fundamental sector for national development. The system was
turned into an OPP for DINAGECA and for the Government to conduct decision making on
natural resources, and also for the private investors who needed to invest. The Director of
DINAGECA personally played a crucial role in shaping negotiations with other actors and in
defining the specification of the system’s requirements.
Swedish International Development Agency
Network (Intranet) intended to connect all of the government institutions and the use of some Internet services.
- 16 -
This information would be provided by the electronic system that was primarily called LHAS,
first developed in Access. The first operational version released in 1997 was very problematic. In
practice it did not have the graphic component and only allowed the entry of text data of land
tenures. Various attempts were made using different off the shelf solutions, such as Access,
Excel, GeoMedia Professional, etc. but none of them gave satisfactory results. LHAS was also
prone to many errors, the database was not relational; the system was stand alone; it was not
possible through the system to keep track of users modifying data in the database; the system was
dependent on a foreign designer and developer, there was no local support; the system allowed
data duplication and many functionalities were missing; and the project that was funding the
development of the system ended. These problems were aggravated in 2000 with the Y2K
problem in which LHAS showed to be not compliant.
Later on, in 2000, due to the constraints that this solution was facing in responding to the
DINAGECA needs, LHAS became another problem, of which the solution was the creation of
LMIS. LMIS, problematized by DINAGECA, was then brought into the network to bring
stability that LHAS did not reach. LMIS is a software built upon a front-end application in
Microsoft Visual Basic with map object oriented, Oracle 9i and ESRI ArcGIS and ArcSDE
products. LMIS was pointed as an OPP within the e-government domain. In re-problematizing
the land information systems, DINAGECA’s interest was in part to solve the unfinished problem
of LHAS and to respond to the new mandates of e-government advocated by international
agencies. More broadly LMIS aimed to help the government to address ongoing land conflicts.
Two conditions were key to the responses.
The problematization of land was shaped by post-independence reform efforts in which the
government tried to re-structure the public sector by centralizing the power and decision-making.
Subsequently, during the nineties and later, the government tried to modernize the public sector
by introducing “new public management” including transparency and good governance, driven
primarily through the vehicle of e-government, represents a broader global trend especially to
public sector in developing countries.
During the first phase of restructuring, different actors were involved, such as DINAGECA, the
government, SIDA, and other users of the system. Within the subsequent phase of
problematization, new actors such as the government, UTICT 8 , and the South African developer
came into play. The government and UTICT both were dealing with the political parts of ICT
implementation. International agencies like G8, Italian Government, the Development Gateway
Foundation acted as supporters of the e-government idea for good governance in general and for
LMIS in particular, jointly with the National Program for Agriculture (PROAGRI). The aligned
interest inscribed in these actors was the modernization of the land information system and
development of an aid tool for solving land conflicts.
4.2.4. Interessement
In the case of implementation of the LMIS, given that the basic idea for it came from within
the organization, DINAGECA did not have much work on convincing either the decision–makers
or the end-users of the system as it was mandatory for them to use the system. As argued by
Macome (2002), there is a pervasive and accepted Mozambican cultural principle that dictates
that subordinates must obey their senior managers. Thus the official mandate of the government
to use the LMIS meant a remote possibility of it being rejected.
ICT Policy Implementation Technical Unit
- 17 -
The development of LHAS was conducted under the cooperation of DINAGECA and SIDA who
were also involved in supporting various other development projects in Mozambique. SIDA was
thus already sensitive to the issues around land conflict in Mozambique, and they too were in
agreement with the government’s decision to introduce the electronic land system.
Primarily, the first end-users of LHAS were convinced by the Director (who knew the users
before) to work at DINAGECA. One of the respondents said:
“…when the director started to work here at DINAGECA, he invited me and other
colleagues to work with him. He wanted to build a team technically strong for working at
We might not forget that just after independence, DINAGECA had problems of retaining
qualified staff. During this time Mozambique experienced an exodus of Portuguese nationals,
including civil servants from DINAGECA. Over the next decade, DINAGECA relied heavily on
expertise from socialist countries, including the Soviet Union, who in turn exited suddenly in
1991. In 1996, DINAGECA’s staff had decreased from 477 to 326, of which only 16 were
university graduates, with 15 located in Maputo and 1 in a province. In 1998, in one of the
weakest provinces, there was 8 staff including 3 medium level technicians, 2 basic level, 2
cartographers and 1 administrator (PASS, 2003). Today after a decade of capacity building
efforts, the situation has changed slightly but yet, not enough for the demand.
Interessement of the users of the system was done through training that was provided by the
developer of the system. When computers were introduced at DINAGECA, they were new for
many Mozambicans, and the users were convinced to use the system due to their enthusiasm to
try the new tools. The workers hope that the computerized system would solve most of their land
registry related problems also motivated them. However, since the co-operation between the
Land Management sector with SIDA ended, the developer’s work stopped as well. As a result
there was no local continuation in training taking into consideration that no local experts were
enrolled who could provide training.
Since solving land conflicts was seen as a fundamental strategy towards poverty alleviation, the
government defined land registration and management through electronic means as being a key
development priority. The government in turn was convinced to implement LMIS due to internal
reasons such as sensitive problems in managing land conflicts, modernization and reforms in the
public sectors, and externally by international donors endorsing the agenda of e-government as a
way forward for development. In this political context, DINAGECA was the key executor of the
government’s initiatives around land. UTICT, another key player in the regulation of government
ICT policies was also supportive of the land initiative as it was based upon ICTs.
Lastly, the South African developer was enrolled in the project through virtue of the well paid
contract he had signed with DINAGECA.
4.2.5. Enrolment
SIDA had an official cooperation agreement with the government since 1975, but its
history of support stretched earlier when it had supported through humanitarian aid
Mozambique's independence from the Portuguese dictatorship. To achieve the development goal,
SIDA tried to narrow the gaps in cooperation through NGO's, local government, embassies, the
private sector, and civil society.
These historical trends paved the way for a Swedish consultancy firm to be engaged in 1991 to
provide support and services within a long-term programme financed by SIDA which sought to
- 18 -
strengthen DINAGECA's capacity to carry out cadastral activities and topographic mapping.
SIDA supported institutional development and capacity building processes of DINAGECA and
its provincial offices. Special attention was paid to assist in human resources development,
organizational matters and in development of legislative support and procedures for land
allocation and property registration and mapping. Within various activities developed by SIDA, a
key one concerned the development of a computerized system for cadastre registry. The
mechanisms of support to DINAGECA were through finances, training of staff, improving the
Machava Technical Training School (the only school of geodesy and cadastre in Mozambique) in
terms of equipment and curriculum (Nichols et al., 1997).
It was from within SIDA, that the developer of the first computerized system (LHAS) for land
registry came from. In the system development process there was limited participation from the
Mozambican side, since there were no trained people, and so the system was based totally on the
Swedish conceptualization of a land management system for Mozambique.
In the second phase of implementation of the land management system, a South African
developer was enrolled through negotiations with DINAGECA headquarters. The contract of the
developer had ended in 2006, and the government was trying to find another developer.
However, the South African developer continued to give some support to DINAGECA.
Interviewees engaged in the implementation of ICTs in general and LMIS in particular revealed
that in order for strategies of such initiatives to go ahead there is a need for the government’s
authorization. One respondent said:
“It is necessary to sensitize the leaders of the government about the ICTs at the most high
level. They are not going to give the money but they will assist the processes and facilitate
it through doing things such as signing documents, issuing letters,… that are needed for the
progress of the projects. ICT consultant at UTICT (06/07/05)
“One of the problems with ICTs is the existence of low awareness of ICTs even at the top
level. There are government authority members not confident in using computers for
example. Therefore we started conducting training in the usage of ICTs at the top level, so
that we could raise consciousness and awareness of the need for ICTs.” ICT consultant at
UTICT (06/07/05)
“We conducted a training course for the government authority members at the top level, for
them to know how to use LIMS. We know that most of them are not going to use it in their
daily basis, but it is important to get them committed with the implementation of the LMIS”.
LMIS manager at the national level (09/02/07)
The above expressions show how the training provided to the top-level government leaders was a
strategy to enrol them in the network. Given the strongly hierarchical nature of the Mozambican
public sector implied that the enrolment of the top managers would help to support the project.
4.2.6. Mobilization of Allies
The proposed solution of the LMIS was generally accepted by all the actors in the network
which rapidly progressed towards stabilization, and its expansion to all the provincial
directorates of land and forestry. Despite the computerized system being unfinished, users are
routinely entering data in the system, especially the textual part of the land tenures. The
graphical part of the system is still working only at the national level, therefore, users send
scanned maps of the land tenures via email. I observed during my field work, for example that
even when there was no electricity in one province directorate situated in Maputo, the users
- 19 -
moved to the central offices of DINAGECA to enter data into the system. Also, when the
network – of e-government is not working, the system is switched to work under other available
However, the interviews conducted with users of the system in January/February 2007 revealed
that the system did not change much of the end-users’ tasks, by the contrary the job was
duplicated since they had to deal with both the manual and computerized systems. The users
preferred the computerized to the manual system as searching for land records was easier.
The LMIS was institutionalized in the country, and was strongly advocated by the government as
its flagship e-government initiatives. Furthermore, the alliances between DINAGECA, the
government and UTICT have been strengthened as they have jointly negotiated funds from
donors to support the initiative and to build the physical infrastructure.
According to Callon (1986), during the mobilization moment, there is a need for a spokesperson
or delegate who represents a certain group of actors, or more clearly “Who speaks in the name of
whom?” The stability of both the network and the OPP depends on the strength of the
relationship between the spokespersons and agencies. In the DINAGECA case, the director has
been the main spokesperson in the process of finalizing requirements and communicating those
to the developer, and for finding more developers. He said in one of the interviews that he
usually travels around the world to see other land systems and collects experiences on how the
Mozambican system should look like. The director’s position at DINAGECA, his awareness of
the importance of a LMIS for the country and commitment to its implementation has made him
to become the main spokesperson of LMIS within DINAGECA.
Although the system is institutionalized, functionally there is a lot of scope for development as it
currently only allows the registration of the application for land tenures, and no reports can be
produced for decision making. Furthermore, modules for graphical data entry still need to be
incorporated at the province level. Moreover, 3 systems for land administration and management
are working at the provincial level: the manual system; the LAHS; and, the e-government system
(LMIS). Officially, the previous electronic system (LAHS) has been abolished but in practice
data is still being inputted into it, and is also used to verify the status of some of the applications
of land tenure.
At the time of writing this paper, not all the aims were achieved. Currently the maps that are part
of the land tenures (instrument to update the national cadastre) are sent from the province level to
DINAGECA at the national level, via email. At the national level, these maps are introduced in
the system and the national land cadastre (the graphic part) is updated.
Figure 2 summarizes the land information system actor-network.
- 20 -
Figure 2. Land Information System actor-network
In the land information system actor-network, presented in figure 2, the land issue constitutes the
main concern for both the state and donors. The emergence of land conflicts has forced
DINAGECA to the respective solutions. DINAGECA is an institution subordinated to the
Ministry of Agriculture. DINAGECA administrate and manage land, and its role is to provide
land information to the government for decision making.
Land conflicts were a great concern of donors and the state which together with DINAGECA
worked to find solutions. LHAS was initially found by DINAGECA as a technical solution for
the problem of land conflicts which had a great support from the Swedish co-operation.
- 21 -
However, later on, given the problems that LHAS was facing DINAGECA had to find new
solutions, in which the South African developer contributed greatly through the development of
LMIS. The new solution was designed to respond to the e-government mandate set by the
international workforce and donors. Therefore, LMIS was called an e-government application.
UTICT plays a role of ICTs regulator in the country and technically provides the network
platform that hosts the LMIS. UTICT and the government work together to conciliate the broad
government policies with those of ICTs and e-government in particular.
5. Analysis
In this section, both the experiences of implementation of DHIS and LMIS are analysed
and compared drawing on the translation perspective. Key features around the four respective
moments of translation are first summarized in table 5 and then discussed.
Table 5. A comparison analysis of both translation processes
Translation Moments
ƒ Primary Actor
ƒ What is the problem
ƒ Problem Solution
ƒ Relevant Actors
Interessement (Convincing
Actors and getting actors
ƒ Who to convince
ƒ How to Convince
ƒ How to isolate competing
Enrolment (Actors accept to be
part of the Network)
ƒ Agreement of the exact role
of the actor
ƒ Benefits that actors will
Mobilization of Allies (Actors
become spokesperson;
legitimacy of actors; network
Health Information System
Land Information System
Fragmentation of health information systems and
empowering of decision making at local levels were
seen by HISP as the main problem. HISP pointed to
DHIS as the solution.
The government, because of the internal pressure
to address land conflicts positioned LHAS as the
solution. This solution was subsequently
reproblematized as e-government (LMIS).
The strategy used by HISP to convince the MoH
was based on demonstrating functional value by the
customization of DHIS and its subsequent
demonstrations to MoH and other competitors.
Training in IS and DHIS for health workers, and
post graduate courses for UEM staff was other
strategies used by HISP to try and keep the MOH
looking for other competing solutions and also to
ally directly with potential competing solutions.
DINAGECA with political support of other
government institutions and also in the absence
of other competing solutions convinced potential
users nationally to use the system.
DHIS was not formally endorsed by MoH, therefore
it was not used as a country wide system. However,
the HISP team continued benefiting from enrolling
in post degree courses. Team members continued to
engage in customizing DHIS and training health
workers in the pilot settings.
The use of the system was made mandatory, and
thus had to be used, and this was also helped by
the good will around it. SIDA accepted its role as
consultant because of its prior sensitivity to the
development problems in Mozambique. UTICT
and government followed the new international
political agenda and foreign support that was
pushing forward e-government.
UEM is spokesperson of HISP and there is no
spokesperson of DHIS at the MoH and for the users
(health workers and managers). The network is not
DINAGECA was a spokesperson for themselves
and the other users of the system. UTICT was a
spokesperson for the government and its new egovernment mandate. The network is stabilized
with all the actors in the network agreeing that
LMIS is the solution for land management and
External problematization, the academic pursuit and establishment of technical credibility
can be inferred to be the three factors that differentiated the rational of problematization in both
cases. While in the land sector the problem was defined by internal organizational actors
(DINAGECA), in the health sector there was an attempt to external problematization with HISP
trying to position DHIS as the solution for the fragmentation and centralization problems. The
ownership of both the problem and the solution influenced the results of the implementation
- 22 -
process. With internal problematization, the people concerned believed that the problems
constrained their lives and belonged to them, and were motivated to engage in finding solutions.
This is illustrated by the case of the land management system, where the government felt land
conflicts was its problem and therefore endorsed the institutionalization of the computerized
system as a solution. Although the existing computerized systems (SISPROG, SIMP and others)
within the health sector did not respond to the sector’s needs, the MoH did not yet endorse DHIS
as a formal solution which came as a result of an external problematization.
Another constraining factor was that the MoH perceived the HISP team to be primarily engaged
in academic activities while in the DINAGECA case, the developers were bound by formal
professional contracts. Furthermore, HISP’s approach was very much focused on demonstrating
functional and technical value and building long term capacity, DINAGECA’s project was
initiated through political support and technical efficiency was not seen as a primary concern.
In the interessement phase the importance of historical links, the role of the change agent
and the use of top-down approach can be seen to be the factors that contributed to the status quo
in building both the respective networks. Although, in both cases the systems were not
completely developed, historical links played a key role in the acceptance (or not) of the
proposed solutions. Trust in the relationship between actors can also be defined through previous
links. While in the land sector, strong historical co-operation existed between SIDA and
DINAGECA, HISP had no prior links with MoH that made its proposed solution to lack the
desired credibility and trust.
Nonetheless, there were also technical constraints in the DHIS which further undermined the
MoH confidence. For example, DHIS could not produce reports and forms as was required in the
health sector, and the software was not seen by the users to be friendly, both for data entry and
report generation.
Another factor that made a difference during interessement was the role of the change agent.
While strategies for implementing DHIS were negotiated between HISP, UEM and some local
managers at the MoH, in the land sector the negotiations were driven by a top level manager
from within the organization. For example, the director of DINAGECA was the one discussing
the requirements of the system with the developers on one side and, on the other side discussing
the budgeting and implementation strategies with the government and donors. Furthermore,
given the priority of the e-government agenda generally and for the land sector specifically,
helped the DINAGECA champion to convince the other actors. The lack of such a champion to
make HISP as part of the health sector reform agenda contributed to the lack of take up on the
Finally, the top-down approach employed can also be seen as a key factor. While the approach in
HISP was participatory and action research oriented, in the land sector the approach was driven
by a restricted group of senior individuals with relevant political power and the capacity to drive
the institutionalization of the land system. In contrast, HISP’s strategy was to change things on
the ground through awareness building and training. HISP’s focus on data analysis may have
been a little pre mature as the basic systems for data collection had not been adequately
addressed. HISP’s field level approach helped to change this condition to a limited extent – in
some regions and a selected group of users. The multi-disciplinary HISP team were competent to
lift the quality of the HIS, but their mandate was rather limited.
- 23 -
Enrolment and mobilization
While in the land sector, the actors appeared to have accepted the benefits promised by the
system and agreed to the role they were assigned to by DINAGECA, HISP did not manage to
convince the MoH, reflecting the state of weak enrolment. The MoH seemed to be unclear about
the benefits to be achieved through HISP given its perceived primary focus on the academic
The existence of competing systems and surrounding political agendas served to create a vicious
cycle influencing the enrolment of HISP. While in the case of the land sector, there were no
competing systems to LMIS, the health sector was littered with legacy systems and also attempts
to introduce new ones, including DHIS. In the land sector, political support helped to open up
opportunities for the demonstration of results of the system, which in turn helped to strengthen
political support. In the HISP case, politically these opportunities were never created and with it
the chance to demonstrate results, which weakened the already limited support – creating a
vicious “chicken and egg” cycle.
6. Translating learning across sectors
Translation as a political technical-process
During interessement, in addition to good communication skills and the capacity to isolate
the influence of competing actors, it was important to convince the right actors at the right
moment. The land sector case demonstrates the importance of having government and political
actors to support the creation of the network in the context of the public sector, where
institutionalization is key. The government with the political will has the power to institutionalize
even incomplete systems, and without it even potentially technically efficient systems can fall by
the wayside. With institutionalization, inefficient systems can potentially be improved in the
future, but without it that opportunity is never created.
HISP largely emphasised the technical aspects in creating the network, and building educational
capacity through enrolment of the team members in masters and PhD. This strong academic but
weak political approach of HISP was seen by the MoH to be too futuristic, and not meeting their
immediate short term and pressing problems. In contrast, the strategy in the land sector
emphasised the creation of political support which helped to offset some of the technical
A technical limitation in the land sector case was the reliance on the individual and not a team as
in the case of HISP. However, the team approach of HISP may have helped to diffuse the
responsibilities towards implementation where everyone but no one seemed responsible to
respond to the MoH requests. In contrast, the responsibility of the technical development in the
land sector case could easily be zeroed down to one individual.
This analysis highlights the rather political nature of the public sector context in developing
countries, where maybe the political needs to be emphasized over the technical. While adequate
technical skills and people are indeed necessary, they can also become sufficient with the
required political support.
Balance between action and research
The establishment of a network in principle entails doing both action and research, and
creating their interlinkages. Through this, new knowledge about implementation strategies can be
developed, applied and revised in practical settings. The creation of an adequate balance between
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the two is a non trivial task. Both the initiatives can be argued to have got it wrong in this regard.
HISP was seen to have limited action, while the opposite was the case in the land sector. An
excessive focus on action may lead to the perception of the problem at hand being “solved” but
does not ensure the creation of knowledge which does not augur well for longer term processes
of developing sustainability and scalability in the networks. The contrary case of HISP shows an
excessive focus on the creation of theoretical knowledge with limited application, may lead to the
perception of it being a wasted effort since the problems on the ground continue to remain as
Creation of the balance can be seen as a process which can be cultivated over time. The HISP
approach should have tried to create an opening through vigorous action in order to get an
opening and to subsequently balance it with more research. The land case, we will argue, needs
to infuse its approach with stronger research to ensure the new knowledge being generated is
spread out more broadly to develop stronger sustainability mechanisms.
Problematization as an ongoing process
The changing socio-political context as a characteristic of the public sector setting in
developing countries ensures problematization is never a fixed end, and it continues to evolve
and be reproblematized. The reproblematization of the land sector case to one of e-government is
a case in point. New opportunities and conditions create the potential of reproblematization and
with it new socio-technical-political networks. The infusion of money and political willingness in
the land sector case through the new e-government agenda created new opportunities which were
well exploited by DINAGECA. Another example of the changing environment was the new
government formation, which affected the HISP initiative negatively because of the status quo
situation (lack of decision to formalize HISP) it helped to promote. The perceived lack of action
of HISP in fact got magnified, much to the detriment of the entire initiative. In the case of the
land system, because the previous solution did not work out and also the new context involved egovernment, the problem definition and solution had also to be changed (see figure 3). Therefore,
changes in the context needs to be closely monitored, and strategies be developed to reproblematize the solution where it is needed.
(Re) problematization
Mobilization of Allies
Stabilized Network
Not Stabilized
New environment
Figure 3. The translation process of the implementation of the Land Information System
- 25 -
The translation process represented in figure 3, shows the normal phases of translation namely,
problematization, interessement, enrolment and mobilization of allies. Further, the figure shows
that after the mobilization process, the network can either be stabilized or not. When the network
is not stabilized, the problem can be redefined (reproblematization). New requirements can also
emerge during the life of the network that can lead to the reproblematization of the network in
both cases (network stabilized and not stabilized).
7. Conclusions
Theoretically, the translation process needs to be seen non-linear as contrasted to the earlier
research focus on it as being linear within a template of the sequential phasing of the four
moments. Taking a non-linear conceptualization of translation helps to focus on the ongoing
changes, opportunities and also threats that always accompany ICT projects in the public sector
context of developing countries.
Earlier empirical studies have emphasized the importance of the capacity for conducting
negotiations, need for good communication skills, co-operation and co-ordination amongst actors
to develop robust actor networks. This study contributes to this body of research in at least two
distinctive ways: to find an appropriate balance between the top-down and bottom-up
approaches, and also between action and research. In finding this balance, the importance of the
political over the technical has been emphasized given the public sector setting in developing
countries. For example, a balance between top-down and bottom-up approaches during the
enrolment phase can help to gain both the top political engagement and the bottom user
involvement which can help provide the demand pull. A mere focus on only one end can be seen
to be a potentially non-working strategy. Similarly, a balance between participatory research and
action, within the context of appropriate political timing, can be more effective than a primary
focus either on action or research.
In conclusion, this paper makes a small, but arguably important, step in the direction of
encouraging thinking about how to learn across experiences of ICT implementation in public
sector settings of developing countries. This emphasis should be taken into both the world of egovernment practice and also research of ICT for development.
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APPENDIX 4 Macueve, G. and Macome, E. (2007) Conceptualization of e‐
Government as an Information Infrastructure: A Case Study from Mozambique. In Cunningham, P. and Cunningham, M. (Eds.) IST Africa 2007 Conference and Exhibition. Maputo, 9‐11th May 2007. 4 IST-Africa 2007 Conference Proceedings
Paul Cunningham and Miriam Cunningham (Eds)
IIMC International Information Management Corporation, 2007
ISBN: 1-905824-04-1
Conceptualization of e-Government as an
Information Infrastructure:
Case study from Mozambique
Gertrudes MACUEVE1, Esselina MACOME2
Globally Scalable Information Infrastructures Group, Department of Informatics, University of
Oslo, Gaustadallén 23 P.O.Box 1080 Blindern NO-0316, Oslo, Norway
Tel: (+47) 22 52 53 3, Fax: (+47) 22 85 24 01, Email: [email protected]
Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, Faculdade de Ciências, Departamento de Matemática e
Informática, Av. Julius Nyerere, 257
Tel (Fax): (+258) 21 493377, Email: [email protected]
Abstract: The objective of this paper is to conceptualize e-government as an
Information Infrastructure (II) since Information Technologies that are being
developed as part of this involves the integration of a number of systems across
organizations and geographical borders. In many respects, IIs are significantly
different from traditional information systems. e-SISTAFE (an e-government
application) being implemented in Mozambique, for example can be seen as an II.
The II perspective provides useful insights into how to develop such applications and
takes into account multiple actors, both technical and institutional. The conclusion
drawn from this conceptualization is that, e-government applications such as eSISTAFE need to be considered as II rather than IS projects, as it helps to better
conceptualize the associated scale and complexity.
Keywords: e-government, information systems, information infrastructure
1. Introduction
An Information Infrastructure (II) is defined as shared, evolving, open, standardized and
heterogeneous installed base [2, 4, 6]. II has been used widely to theorise the field of
Information Systems (IS) in sectors such as: the development of the Internet [5, 11];
telecommunications [12]; health [1, 4, 14]; Land Management Systems [16] and shipping
Hanseth in theorising IS as II says that the Information Technology (IT) solutions that
we are developing today and in the years to come, in which a number of different systems
are integrated across organizational and geographical borders, in many respects are
significantly different from the traditional information systems. To succeed with the
establishment of such solutions, we need new understandings, development strategies and
approaches [6]. Such a perspective can be developed through one of IIs – not systems.
Furthermore, Hanseth stresses that today we are developing solutions to support
communication, collaboration (important in e-government) and information exchange
between multiple units (people, organizations, information systems) globally.
E-government applications are within this branch of solutions therefore, we argue that,
implementation of such solutions should not be viewed as implementation of ordinary IS,
but rather as implementation of IIs. Traditionally, the philosophy of IS in terms of
development methodology and the extent to which services have to be offered is limited
Copyright © 2007 The authors
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and differ completely from e-government which has the objective of linking multiple
systems, including government, business and citizens, across geographical boundaries and
with an “uncountable” number of users. Also, there are innumerable services running over
E-government systems do not have fixed boundaries in terms of the number of users,
technological components to be adopted such as a predefined size of database and its
functionalities varies over time in order to satisfy the users and incorporate new users. Egovernment applications are large and complex, and possess characteristics that make them
different from the traditional specification driven designs. IIs must adapt to functional and
technical requirements, and are designed as extensions of or improvements to existing
systems. In developing e-government systems we cannot put the responsibilities in the
hands of one developer since it is not a dedicated system, and it is necessary that many
people are involved.
As an example, the study reports on the case of e-SISTAFE, an e-government project
being implemented in Mozambique for controlling and managing public finances.
We claim that e-SISTAFE in principle should be an II, as it is developed to be shared by
the financial sections of the public sector of the whole country, which comprise a set of
heterogeneous 22 ministries at the central and provincial levels, 33 municipalities, a number
of public enterprises and various other institutions. e-SISTAFE thus needs to be evolving,
open, standardized and has to contend with an existing installed base.
The objective of this paper is to theorize e-government applications as IIs. This
perspective has implications on informing the methodologies used for the development of
similar applications.
1.1. Methodology
This paper is part of an ongoing research undertaken by the authors, on the topic of egovernment implementation in Mozambique, since 2005. Data sources includes the
literature review and documentation analysis being undertaken during the research,
specifically, concerning the theory of information infrastructure and the e-SISTAFE
implementation process. Also, formal and semi-structured interviews with some users of
the system were conducted in January 2007 in order to evaluate the outcomes of eSISTAFE within the financial departments of the public sector where it is being used.
(Table 1).
Table 1 List of Interviews conducted in order to evaluate the outcomes of e-SISTAFE
Ministry of Education (Maputo)
Ministry of Planning (Maputo)
Number of Interviewees
Ministry of Agriculture (Pemba)
Ministry of Agriculture (Beira)
Ministry of Finances
Title of the Interviewee
Financial Management Advisor
Public Servants at Directorate
Administration and Finances (DAF)
Public Servants at DAF
1-Head of the DAF
2 – Public Servants at DAF
System Developers
Interviewees presented in Table 1, excluding the developers from the Ministry of
Finances were chosen because they belong to the institutions that are already using
e-SISTAFE. These people have a long experience with e-SISTAFE as well the previous
accounting system, therefore they could make wide comparison between current activities
and those before the use of e-SISTAFE.
In this research, we took an interpretative research approach given that the results of
this study were interpreted from various sources and people. According to Walsham [18]
the interpretative paradigm assumes that the social world is relativistic and understood as a
subjective and inter-subjective experience of those who are involved in its activities.
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The paper is framed as follows: after this Introductory Section, we present the
Conceptual Framework in Section 2, followed by the Case Study in Section 3. In Section 4,
we present the Analysis and Discussion and lastly in Section 5 the Implications of
Conceptualizing e-government as an II are discussed.
2. Conceptual Framework
2.1. Information Infrastructure
In this section, we develop our conceptual framework based on recent-technological
conceptualizations of large, networked systems called Information Infrastructure (II). An II
is defined as shared, evolving, open, standardized and constituted of a heterogeneous
installed base [2, 4, 6]. Such an II, when appropriated by a community of users, offers a
shared resource for delivering and using information services. II have been described as an
extension of traditional Information Systems (IS), but differs from them in the design
methodologies, development, and management processes. IIs are opposed to traditional
systems as individual tools, which are developed for specific purposes (like accounting
system), which is used by a clearly defined limited group (like the accounting department in
an organization). II can serve as the foundation upon which data is shared, and other
applications and activities depend upon them [6]. The II evolves over time, meaning that
more users, services and components are added to the II as an evolutionary process. This is
different from something like Microsoft Word that tend to be used as private individual
Openness in II signifies that there is no border regarding the number of elements it may
include, a feature that supports its growth, for example the computers that are linked to the
Internet. Such an infrastructure is used by a number of users for various applications with
no limits of start and end times [7].
An II is built on standards (as general agreements between producers and users of
technology) that enable the evolution in scope and functionality of the application, and
serve as key instruments by which the architecture of the infrastructure is shaped over time.
Due to the size and complexity of an II, it is often standardized to have a uniform set of
functionalities. Standards allow different solutions to work by enabling different elements
of an II to be integrated through standardized interfaces, components, and protocols. Thus,
without standards an II cannot exist [5]. The evolving nature of an II requires standards that
are flexible and easy to change to allow for future developments to incorporate new
requirements, features, and technologies stemming from new services or applications.
Heterogeneity implies that an II contains a large number of components of multiple
sorts, including diverse technological and non-technological components. The
heterogeneous nature of an II makes it to be more than just ‘pure’ technology but rather a
socio-technical network [2, 4], operating at various levels of the organizations, including
technical components, human capacities, institutions and work practices.
The existing technical and non-technical components (including standards, the
organizational structures, the work practices, behavioural patterns and social preferences
and arrangements of the users) are called – the installed base. An II is never developed from
scratch [2]. The installed base is decisive for the trajectory of further developments and
change of the II [1]. When an infrastructure is changed or improved, each new feature
added to it, or each new version of a component replacing an existing one, has to fit in the
existing infrastructure. This means that the existing infrastructure (the installed base)
heavily limits and influences how it can be designed, and, in fact, how it can evolve [6].
II theory does not present solely the characteristics of an II, but also the ways to deal
with the process of design, changes, improvement, extension, development and
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management. Some of the mechanisms described to enable such processes are cultivation
and bootstrapping [1, 6, 8].
Design as bootstrapping according to [8] acknowledges that an II has to be built step by
step, piece by piece through a long evolutionary process; to get a critical mass over time.
The strategy involves making it initially as simple as possible, create conditions for the
simplest one to start growing, and incorporate the more complex and challenging pieces
later on. This also involves enrolling first those users and practices who are easiest to enrol
first, then slowly the more challenging ones. The solutions will have to be continuously
changed and improved to facilitate the learning and organizational change required to
transform a certain sector from what it is today to one that is transformed, supported by the
incorporation of the e-government application. The whole network can only be changed
through a process where smaller parts, sub-networks, are replaced by new ones while at the
same time the new pieces work together with the larger network. The success of such an
approach depends on the identification of sub-networks which are first small enough to be
changed in a coordinated process, second, the sub-networks have so include simple
interfaces to the larger network to enable an interoperability between the old and the new.
In cultivation, Hanseth [6] claims that we most often describe the making of ICT
solutions as design. This implicitly presumes that we make the technology exactly as how
we want it to be, and the process is predetermined. Lots of alternative concepts are
proposed by the II perspective to capture the “real nature” of IS development and to
overcome the limits of traditional development. Firstly, the II approach challenges the
notion that development has a clearly defined start and end point, and instead
conceptualizes the process as an ongoing one of change and evolution. Secondly, it
challenges the view that the various technological and organizational changes to be made
can be anticipated ahead of time.
Due to the high degree of complexity of an II and the low level of control over the
design process, IIs are considered as “organisms with a life of their own”. The designers
must formulate their design goals in terms of how they can influence the interdependent
growth process through specific technological, social and political choices. To do so, they
must also fight to keep the technology evolving and open and promote its future growth.
2.2. An example of an II: The Internet
The Internet, the universal service infrastructure is an II, most known in the world. The
Internet has been growing exponentially in unanticipated ways in its scale and scope since
the early 80s. The number of its technological components has grown enormously together
with its growth in user population and services offered to them. This growth can be
described to have taken places in unpredictable ways, and involving various unintended
The Internet is open in the sense that there are no limits on how many users, computer
systems or other technical components etc. that can be linked to it. It can be described as a
heterogeneous socio-technical network that includes many networks in which both
technical and social actors take part. The Internet is composed of several subinfrastructures, for example the global TCP/IP network, the e-mail, news, and Web
infrastructures. These networks can partly be seen as separate and individual
infrastructures, but which are interconnected and to certain degrees interdependent on each
Its functionality and capabilities have changed fundamentally through constant
innovations that have introduced protocols like HTTP, HTML, or XML and SOAP [7]. The
Internet has now evolved into a shared resource for all its millions of users distributed
across most countries of the world. It has laid a foundation upon which large parts of the
activities of millions of users are based and depend upon [6].
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The Internet includes the work of large numbers of support personnel, without whom it
would not work. Accordingly, we see infrastructures as socio-technical webs, as actornetworks to emphasize its complexity and interdependent nature [9].
This section presents the case under study - e-SISTAFE – an e-government application
currently being implemented in Mozambique. This brief description first provides the
definition of e-SISTAFE, its objectives and the context in which it is being developed.
Secondly, it describes how e-SISTAFE is evolving over time.
e-SISTAFE is an Integrated State Financial Management System that started to be
implemented officially in the Ministry of Finances (MF) of Mozambique, following the
passage of a law by the National Assembly in late 2001 along with various accompanying
e-SISTAFE is substituting the public financial management system that is manual, weak
and old, based on laws and rules which were more than 100 years old, for instance the
treasury regulations is from 1901, and the public accounting regulations from 1881. This
old system is prone to corruption and errors that have bad repercussions on the beneficiaries
and the state itself. It does not allow effective tracking and monitoring of the budget from
the planning stage through the execution. Another major weakness of the system is that it is
called a financial management system, but in fact it is fundamentally an accounting system
without the management part. Moreover, this accountability is based on an old and simple
accounting model -“single entry accounting system” rather than on a broad model of
accountability that allows a very good tracking of the facts and is currently internationally
used -"double-entry accounting system”. In the former model, in some cases only records of
cash, accounts receivable, accounts payable, and taxes paid may be maintained. Records of
assets, inventory, expenses, revenues and other elements usually considered essential in an
accounting system may not be kept. This model has disadvantages such as of not making
data available to management for effective planning and controlling of budgets.
Consequently, lack of systematic and precise bookkeeping may lead to inefficient
administration and reduced control over the affairs.
The payment arrears are negligibly low. The system provides for replenishment of
funds against the documentation of the use of the funds in the previous month. The system
is fully responsible for authorizing payments of all ministries and agencies. Spending
agencies need to go through numerous steps of approval before authorizing payment, which
often delays even legitimate spending, thus, causing serious problem of underpayment.
The lack of an information system that can provide reliable, trustable and on time
information brings problems to the financial system amongst others, such as the lack of
relation between the planning process, between the approved budget and the budget
execution; and creating gaps in the financial information system that allows misuse of the
money of the state. Furthermore, it makes the follow-up and control of the state’s budget
So, e-SISTAFE’s objectives consist of involving the complete budget execution cycle
and incorporate subsystems of budgeting, treasury management, accounting, asset
management and internal control. This will support the establishment and harmonization of
the rules, policies, procedures of budget planning, management, execution and control of
the public assets, and produce integrated and timely information of the public sector.
e-SISTAFE is the electronic/computerized system under development and
implementation in the Ministry of Finance. Control and production of timely and reliable
information on public sector budget and asset execution, maintaining of an efficient and
effective internal control system with internationally accepted internal audit procedures are
some of the specific requirements of this new electronic system. For example e-SISTAFE is
Copyright © 2007 The authors
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to overcome the excessive administrative burden of the replenishment systems, and help
address the underpayment challenge. Under the new system, spending agencies will be
given spending limits that will be pre-registered in the e-SISTAFE and make it easy to
access budgetary performance.
e-SISTAFE was introduced under the umbrella of public sector reform in Mozambique,
more broadly within the broader programme of poverty alleviation – PARPA. Given that an
efficient public expenditure management system is one of the key conditions required for
the eventual success of budget support programmes in reducing poverty, e-SISTAFE
implementation is also part of the recommendations of the 2001 Public Expenditure
Management Review (PEMR), in which a detailed analysis was undertaken on
Mozambique’s public expenditure management systems by a combined team from the then
Ministry of Planning and Finance, the World Bank, IMF and several bilateral donors.
The new electronic system is being developed by a big team composed by Mozambican
and foreign developers. The initial functionalities of the system were released in 2004 and
used primarily at the Ministry of Finance and Education. In 2004, 368 users and 8 trainers
were trained to use the system. In 2006, there are more than 2000 users of e-SISTAFE.
The Unique Account of the Public Treasure (CUT) hosted in the Central Bank of
Mozambique (the bank manager of the state finances and the CUT manager) as a
fundamental instrument in the scope of e-SISTAFE, was created. This was in the light of
the need to establish the practical mechanisms and the requirements for making transactions
within this account. Since there are numerous government active accounts in commercial
banks, e-SISTAFE is responsible for conducting reconciliation of more than 1200 accounts.
3.1. Current Benefits of e-SISTAFE
Within the context of Mozambique, where poverty alleviation and the country’s
development are the main objectives, e-SISTAFE is an extremely important instrument that
potentially will help the management of the public expenditures in a setting undermined by
higher levels of corruption. e-SISTAFE is expected to bring in transparency with
implications on good governance, an important ingredient for the achievement of the
country’s main development objectives.
Despite the fact that e-SISTAFE is being developed, the users of the system interviewed
pointed out that the functionalities of e-SISTAFE released are bringing enormous benefits
for their daily lives as public servants at the financial departments and directorates of the
public sector. These benefits are in terms of improved access to funds even when they are
not available; real time accessibility of information about financial transactions; the
reduction of “bureaucracies” and paper load associated with financial transactions. These
improvements are reflected in the following quotes from some interviewees:
“…e-SISTAFE makes financial transactions easier … ”
A public servant of DAF at the Ministry of Agriculture in Pemba.
“…e-SISTAFE is a good management tool. Before, we would be here with many
papers to transfer money from one place to another and many money requests
for many things, but now, these transactions are done electronically… ”
A public servant of DAF at the Ministry of Agriculture in Beira.
“…now money is available even before the funds are released to our organization…”
Director of DAF at the Ministry of Agriculture in Beira.
The outcomes of e-SISTAFE are not only visible at the level of the users but also at the
level of citizens. For example, delays in the payment to teachers have reduced substantially
Copyright © 2007 The authors
Page 6 of 9
in remote areas through the use of e-SISTAFE. According to the President of the country
[17], this advancement is a testimony of the results of the fight against the barriers to the
country’s development.
In spite of these improvements there are specific challenges in the implementation of
e-SISTAFE such as the existence of scarce local skilled human resources required for its
development; the use of parallel financial systems to accomplish functionalities that were
not designed in e-SISTAFE, and the fact that currently its use is restricted to the national
and provincial levels, thus the districts have not yet experienced its benefits.
4. e-SISTAFE conceptualized as an II
In this section, we discuss how e-SISTAFE can be better conceptualized as an II. As long as
the government exists, there is a need to manage the public exchequer. Therefore,
e-SISTAFE is not created from scratch, and is being built upon the already existing state
paper-based financial management system framed within existing government objectives. It
is being built upon existing users and laws, procedures, work practices, organizational
structures, educational institutions, (such as the university which trains developers and
users of the system) the public sector reform processes, existing technologies and standards.
In general within e-government what changes is in fact the way of doing governance that
has existed historically. For example, Heeks [10] says that governments in developing
country have been using ITs for more than 40 years. So, what’s new about e-government is
that we are moving on from IT to ICTs, and from their conceptualization as IS to II.
e-SISTAFE is composed of heterogeneous socio-technical actors such as developers
(foreigners and local); users with different profiles at the different ministries and the
representatives of the MF in each province; Banks; and government institutions; sponsors;
standards, gateways to link the e-SISTAFE and other bank systems, all involving various
kinds of standards. This shift from a paper based system and single system to a network of
systems, work practices, and actors requires an II perspective that takes into account the
networked nature of both technical and institutional components, and their
The heterogeneity of e-SISTAFE makes it open. There is no limit of users for eSISTAFE, since any number of public institutions can be connected to e-SISTAFE. There
is also no limit on the technical components such as hardware to be added to e-SISTAFE to
allow more users to access the system.
e-SISTAFE started working in January 2004 when the e-CUT(electronic state account)
was implemented. There were various prior steps such as the creation of law of SISTAFE;
the approval of the conceptual model by the parliament, agreement with the donors,
procurement, etc. Then the first working version e-SISTAFE was discarded in October
2004, following which another version was released in November 2004 providing the
functionality of financial execution, in parallel the module “AdFundos” for bank transfers
was added to e-SISTAFE and at the Central Bank. The module, for budget execution
through “adiantamento de fundos” was released in August 2005, and the module for budget
execution through “via directa operacional” is working since June 2006. Gradually various
government institutions are being enrolled in the use of the system. The first ministries to
use the system were the Ministry of Finances, Education and Culture, and then Planning
and Development. Now there are more than 6 ministries enrolled in the use of the system,
including the Presidency of the Republic, the Assembly of the Republic and the Prime
Minister’s Cabinet. The Eduardo Mondlane University was also enrolled in this big
infrastructure. While new sets of users are being added to the systems, it also implies the
incorporation of new hardware. According to UTRAFE [15] there are plans of linking other
systems to e-SISTAFE, making it a foundation for the interlining with other infrastructures
as it happens with classic infrastructures such as roads and electricity.
Copyright © 2007 The authors
Page 7 of 9
So, e-SISTAFE is evolving with this enrolment of more public institutions, and
consequently its technical infrastructure. While evolving, it is also being changed to
accommodate new changes, for example, the new currency in the country was established
in mid 2006, forcing e-SISTAFE to change to accommodate this new requirement. A new
“plano de contas” was institutionalized in the latest 2006 and accommodated in eSISTAFE.
e-SISTAFE is being implemented by gradually enrolling users, adding functionalities
step by step, implying the use of a cultivation approach to evolution.
e-SISTAFE is standardized both in terms of physical infrastructure and accountability
laws. It is based on “plano de contas” and international standards of accounting, and also
needing to comply with well-known standards in networking topologies such as the star
topology at the provincial level; the cabling is ANSI TIA/EIA-T568-Comercial
Telecommunications Cabling Standard. A dedicated line for security reasons is being used
since data on the network is very sensitive (financial data), and the Frame Relay Protocol is
being used to link the different networks. It is implemented under the first and second layer
of the ISO/OSI model, which supports at the upper level of the TCP/IP allowing the use of
services such as Telnet, FTP in WAN at low costs.
E-government systems such as e-SISTAFE cannot be viewed as simple applications or
tools that are developed to serve dedicated organizational tasks. They are far too complex,
and involve long term growth and integration processes covering rapid growth of
customers, services, telecommunication infrastructures, and hardware.
5. Some Implications of the II Perspective
Viewing e-SISTAFE as an II brings some implications in practice, especially the need to
not separate the technological and social and other non-technological elements. Also, given
the conservative power of the installed base, its resistance against change necessitates an
incremental approach to fostering growth processes. When facing the challenges of design,
realization and change of II, evolutionary and iterative approaches seem highly appropriate
and indeed inevitable. The design and change are evolving and open-ended process of
socio-technical negotiations with the different actors of the infrastructure, which evolve in a
non-predictable and dynamic manner.
Cultivation rather than construction is suggested as a way to handle and live with the
limits of managerial control over such phenomena [2]. Rather than plan, prescribe and
construct growth, the design approach seeks to strengthen and nurture growth through
constant care, continuous assessment and a commitment to revise strategies that do not
work well [1].
In this theoretical framework, work routines, organizational structures and social
institutions are very significant elements of the installed base and may resist change
attempts [3]. When IIs are put in use in complex work practices and institutional settings,
they tend to have unintended consequences, side effects, and drift away from anticipated
plans for usage [2. 5]. This dynamism is closely related to the way that II both influence
and are influenced by the work practices and the institutional settings. In this perspective,
IIs merge through a mutual shaping process, and hence infrastructures in use can hardly be
perceived as being completely stable, planned, and aligned.
Through the conceptualization of e-government as an II we hope to contribute to the
understanding of the challenges associated with its development and implementation. A key
implication is to view the development of e-SISTAFE without defined end times, but as an
ongoing cultivation of an evolving installed base. This installed base is required to be
integrated with other multiple IIs across organizational and geographical borders, including
institutional legacies and their interconnections with the technical.
Copyright © 2007 The authors
Page 8 of 9
6. Conclusions and Recommendations
Our paper contributes to the argument that e-government applications should be
conceptualized as IIs, with key implications being drawn for development and
implementation approaches.
[1] Aanestad, M., Cultivating Networks: Implementing Surgical Telemedicine, in Department of Informatics.
2002, University of Oslo: Oslo.
[2] Ciborra, C. and Associates, From Control To Drift. 2000, Oxford: Oxford University Press, UK.
[3] Hanseth, O., and E. Monteiro. Inscribing Behaviour in Information Infrastructure Standards. Accounting
Management and Information Technology, 1997. 7(4): pp. 183-211.
[4] Hanseth, O. and E. Monteiro. Changing Irreversible Networks. In Proceedings of the 6th European
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[5] Hanseth, O., E. Monteiro, and M. Hatling, Developing Information Infrastructure: The Tension Between
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[6] Hanseth, O., From Systems and Tools to Networks and Infrastructures – From Design to Cultivation.
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Theories and Principles. 2006. University of Oslo. (Forthcoming).
[8] Hanseth, O. and M. Aanestad., Bootstrapping Networks, Communities and Infrastructures; On the
Evolution of ICT Solutions in Health Care. 2000. University of Oslo, Department of Informatics.
[9] Hanseth, O. and N. Lundberg, Designing Work Oriented Infrastructures. Computer Supported Cooperative
Work, 2001. 10: 347-372. Kluver Academic Publishers, Netherlands.
[10] Heeks, R., Understanding e-Governance for Development. i-Government Working Paper Series,
2001a(Paper Nr. 11), Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester.
[11] Monteiro, E., Scaling Information Infrastructure: The Case Of Next-Generation IP in the Internet. The
Information Society, 1998. 14: p. 229-245.
[12] Nielsen, P., A Conceptual Framework of Information Infrastructure Building: A Case Study of the
Development of a Content Service Platform for Mobile Phones in Norway, in Department of Informatics.
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Sociology of Corporate Life. 1979, London, Heinemann.
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APPENDIX 5 Macueve, G. (2007) The Problem of Literacy in e‐Government Implementation for Development: A Case Study of e‐Land Management Information System in Mozambique. In Cunningham, P. and Cunningham, M. (Eds.) e­Challenges Conference and Exhibition World Convention Centre. The Hague, Holland, 24‐26th October 2007:411‐419. 5 Expanding the Knowledge Economy: Issues, Applications, Case Studies
Paul Cunningham and Miriam Cunningham (Eds)
IOS Press, 2007 Amsterdam
ISBN 978-1-58603-801-4
The Problem of Literacy in e-Government
Implementation for Development: A Case
Study of e-Land Management Information
System from Mozambique
Gertrudes MACUEVE
University of Oslo
Tel: + 4798813473, Email: [email protected]
Abstract: This paper aims to call attention to institutions and individuals advocating
e-government implementation, on how literacy is still a problem for the success of
such initiatives in certain contexts such as Mozambique. It focuses on the types of
literacy undermining the implementation of Land Management Information System
(LMIS) in Mozambique and also draws some possible solutions for the specific
setting were the problem is taking place. The findings suggest that, e-government
implementation for development makes a number of problematic assumptions
including that there are enough literate people to develop and use such applications,
while in certain contexts literacy is really problematic, therefore development
through such initiatives is almost impossible. The institutions implementing egovernment have seriously to include in e-government projects the issue of building
appropriate human capacity that will in longer-term sustain the use and development
of e-government applications.
Keywords – Literacy, e-government, LMIS, development
1. Introduction
E-government is seen in developing countries in general and in Mozambique in particular
as one way to reduce poverty and to help the nation to achieve development. Development
in the perspective of [16] is to give people the capabilities to exercise their choices and to
remove the deprivations they suffer from. Literacy is one example of human capabilities
referred to by Sen, and has an intrinsic value to support processes of development. Sen
emphasizes that any kind of overall development effort becomes more difficult in a society
where illiteracy rates are very high. In the information age, [3] argues that the only way to
participate is being able to assimilate and process complex information. This capability is
fundamentally based on literacy.
In the information society, the success of developing countries depends on their
information literacy and their ability to handle information and Information and
Communication Technologies (ICT), and that in turn depends on education. [2] says that,
the ability to move into the information age depends on the whole society to be educated,
and to be able to assimilate and process complex information. This starts with the education
systems from the bottom up, from primary school to the university. However, the
imperatives of the information age are so strong that respective applications are being
implemented in settings while growth in processes around developing literacy is lagging far
Mozambique, a less developing country, is engaged in the implementation of
e-government for development. Amongst various ongoing initiatives, the implementation of
Copyright © 2007 The Authors
Land Management Information System (LMIS) is also taking place that will help the
government to better manage the natural resources including better decision making on land
allocation. Given the very scarce number of literate people to implement and use the
system, the challenge is further magnified in the LIMS case because it requires additional
knowledge and literacy around Geographic Information Systems (GIS), which comes with
additional complexities around the technology itself and also of spatial thinking [12]. While
other developing countries such as India and Brazil are engaged in debates around more
complex issues such as information culture, and organizational and institutional challenges,
Mozambique is still struggling with developing basic reading and writing skills. This paper
analyses the process around the LMIS implementation, challenges faced especially relating
to literacy, and how they may be overcome.
The organization of this paper is as follows: after this introduction, the objectives of the
paper are presented in Section 2. In section 3 is presented the theoretical framework,
followed by the research methods and approach in Section 4. Then, in Section 5 the case
study is presented, followed by the case analysis and discussion, in Section 6. Lastly, some
concluding remarks are presented in section 7.
2. Objectives
This paper aims to call attention to institutions and individuals advocating e-government
implementation, on how literacy is still a problem for the success of such initiatives in
certain contexts such as Mozambique. The main research question addressed in this paper is
“How literacy undermines e-government for development? A theoretical framework is then
presented, which contains the lens for later discussion on the topic.
3. Theoretical Framework
Literacy in practice means the ability to read, write, and sometimes more. For example
UNESCOi defines literacy as the ability to read, write and understand a short simple
sentence about one’s daily life. Literacy can be viewed at different levels and types. There
is functional literacy, which OECDii [21] defines not as the ability to read and write but,
whether a person is able to understand and employ printed information in daily life, at
home, at work and in the community.
In the context of ICTs, there is what is called information literacy, which means how to
use (effectively exploit) information [4], and be able to recognize when information is
needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate and use effectively the needed information.
Computer literacy: concerns the understanding of computer characteristics, capabilities and
applications, and how to implement this knowledge in a skilful and productive use of
computer applications suitable to the individual roles in society [17]. And lastly, ICT
literacy: a set of skills and understanding required by people to enable the meaningful use
of ICTs appropriate to their needs [9]. All of these kinds of “literacies” are very important
in sustaining the implementation of an e-government project in particular and development
in general.
The literacy capability not solely can increase the opportunity for participation in the
political arena, the capability to express one’s demands effectively, the capability to
communicate tremendous deprivations, lower infant mortality and fertility rates [16], it can
also enable governments initiatives on development such as e-government. The effect of
literacy often extends beyond personal benefits; therefore investment on literacy can be
seen as making a key contribution for a society initiative as a whole.
However, the more specific an application is, more specialized needs of literacy are
required. For example, LMIS requires specific literacy related to GIS, the use of maps and
of spatial thinking. GIS is a system that enables one to capture, storage, update, manipulate,
Copyright © 2007 The Authors
analyse and display of all forms of spatially referenced information [5]. A GIS has the
potential to integrate multiple tasks involving surveying, mapping, designing, planning, and
other related activities [14]. The use of GIS has become commonplace in the development
context [8] especially for the management of environmental resources like land, water and
forests which have a spatial component.
For countries such as Mozambique, where agriculture is the main economic activity,
LMIS for land allocation and management are key systems requiring literacy about maps in
general, and GIS in particular (for system developers and users). Literacy on maps for
example, can provide LMIS beneficiaries to understand where a plot of land is located and
value of it according to the geographic situation, therefore better negotiate with the clients.
Notwithstanding the existence of large amounts of literature of GIS in the area of
information systems, this area has identified various challenges to its development and
implementation, such as relating to culture, institutional and political issues, the
problematic issue of illiteracy has not explicitly been highlighted. For example, [15] in the
context of GIS implementation in India, analyses the varying assumptions around time and
space between the West (the site for GIS development) and India (the context of use).
These variations are analysed to have specific adverse implications on implementation. [20]
develop an Actor Network inspired analysis of GIS implementation in India, and identify
how competing interests of relevant actors impede the development of sustainable
networks. [1] draw upon [6] writings on modernity to examine the institutional and
individual transformations that take place through the implementation of GIS. [13] discuss
the challenges of integrating different kinds of knowledge (indigenous and scientific) in
GIS development and implementation. Similarly, [7] discuss various management
challenges around GIS implementation in bureaucratic settings.
While the above identified challenges are indeed very relevant and pressing, for least
developed countries like Mozambique such initiatives still need to struggle with basic
reading and writing skills in addition to those identified earlier. In this paper, the author
tries to explicitly identify these concerns. But, first the research methods and approach are
presented in the next section.
4. Research Methods and Approach
This research took place in one province of Mozambique, specifically at the Provincial
Directorate of Agriculture, department of Geography and Cadastre (SPGC) in Maputo. This
setting is one of the ten provinces that is using the LMIS being implemented since 2004.
Each province has the minimal number of 3 people trained in the use of the system and
maximum 5. The SPGCs are subordinated to the National Directorate of Geography and
Cadastre (DINAGECA), an institution responsible for the national cadastre and land
As data collection methods, the author has used qualitative research methods, namely
interviews; analysis of documents, newspapers, reports, government documents such as
laws, plans, strategies; and also, the authors has conducted observations, studying how
people engage with the system, for example how users use the system. The author
conducted 33 semi-structured interviews in total, from the period of March-July 2006 at the
SPGC and at DINAGECA. Within this set of interviews, 5 of the interviewees are the users
trained in the use of LMIS and the rest is composed by the potential users of LMIS. At
DINAGECA 3 interviews were conducted. It is important to refer that, there are not more
than 90 workers at the provincial directorate dealing with issues of land. The interviews
were taking place in the interviewees’ offices. The set of chosen interviewees was
constituted by users and managers of the system, organization managers and the
community. Interviewees were basically questioned about their backgrounds; what do they
knew about, ICTs, GIS and computers in general; what were the challenges faced in day-toCopyright © 2007 The Authors
day basis, expectations with the introduction of the system. In some cases, observing what
people were doing, when it comes to the issue of requirements on writing and reading, ICT
and computer skills. The author attended 6 consultations to the local community on land
concession. The author’s role in the field was just the one of being a researcher. The topic
of this paper is part of broader research in e-government that the author has been
conducting in Mozambique since 2005.
An interpretive approach has been taken, in order to understand how e-government
implementation (specifically LMIS) is influenced by the context and vice-versa.
Interpretive studies attempt to understand phenomena via the meanings that people assign
to them, and their varying interpretations of the same situation. The aim is thus not to
develop an objective account, rather a relativistic one based on shard and inter-subjective
understandings [10, 19].
After presenting this section on methods and the research approach, the Case Study is
5. The Case Study
5.1. Development, poverty and e-government implementation
The Government of Mozambique (GoM) is battling poverty at various fronts as a national
priority, and the poverty alleviation plan known in Portuguese as PARPA was launched
with the objective of reducing poverty from 70% to 50% by the end of this decade. Another
related objective is to reduce illiteracy rates (53.6% for adults in 2004, 65.7% in rural areas
and 30.3% in urban areas) by 10% from 2005 to 2009. The alleviation of poverty through
the implementation and use of ICT is one of the strategies under the PARPA initiative.
As mentioned by the GoM in the ICT policy, launched in 2000 and e-government
strategy launched in 2004, the objective of these instruments is to contribute to poverty
reduction in the country through the promotion of the use of ICTs as an enabler for socioeconomic development. The government’s e-government vision is to provide to every
Mozambican, information necessary to achieve her/his fullest potential.
The objectives of e-government set out in the strategy document are to improve
efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of public services; to ensure transparency and
accountability of government; to provide access to information to improve business and
simplify the citizen’s lives. These aims, as recognized by policy analysts, have not been
explicitly addressed in earlier ICT projects, and represent the ambitions of the country,
despite its scarce resources, to try and leverage its strong potential and implement ideas that
have been sowed and tested in other contexts [18]. Land and Property Cluster Development
is one of the proposed flagship projects under the e-government strategy, and is the focus
of this empirical analysis. The Mozambican government recognizes the land problems and
the necessity of urgent measures [18].
All land in Mozambique is owned by the State, but property on land can be privately
owned and transferred. However, land-use and property ownership are registered
independently. These disjointed registration processes are lengthy; with opportunity for
corruption; cause public discontent; and discourages land/property-based investment.
Therefore, an electronic management information system that will help the government to
control the land registration tenures and allocations for land investments towards economic
development is being implemented since 2004. Following is presented the system for land
5.2. The Land Management Information System
Little is said, written and known about the LMIS from the period between 1975 (when
Mozambique gained independence) to 1991, when the first attempts were made to install
Copyright © 2007 The Authors
electronic systems. [11] says that many of the land records and the geodetic information
were destroyed after the independence, although not all may have been burnt. During the
research, the author identified that most of the maps in current use in the government date
between the 1920s and 1960s. These maps thus represent the “installed base” to current
efforts to develop the LMIS.
The land management system during the period 1975-1990 was completely manual,
derived from the above-identified installed base, and DINAGECA’s key function at the
provincial level was of land allocation [11], done sporadically and involving the issue of a
certificate. The land registry became defunct during this period. An electronic system was
seen by many as a tool that could solve the existing problems relating to the collection,
archiving, processing and administration of land records. The next section presents the
process of implementation of the electronic system.
5.3. Implementing the electronic Land Management (Registration) Information System
After independence, there was an exodus of Portuguese nationals, including civil servants
from DINAGECA. Over the next decade, DINAGECA relied heavily on expertise from
socialist countries, including the Soviet Union, who in turn exited suddenly in 1991. In
1996, DINAGECA’s staff had decreased from 477 to 326, of which only 16 were university
graduates, with 15 located in Maputo and 1 in a province. In 1998, in one of the weakest
provinces, there was 8 staff including 3 medium level technicians, 2 basic level, 2
cartographers and 1 administrator. Today after a decade of capacity building efforts, there
are less than 20 professional surveyors in the whole country, including both the public and
private sectors [11].
In 1991, with aid through Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), a new
electronic system was built from the scratch, including the development of basic knowledge
on computer awareness. Prior to 1989/90, there was only one computer in DINAGECA,
and staff under the SIDA project had to be trained from scratch. During the implementation
of the new computerized system, both the old manual and new system were running in
parallel. DINAGECA workers acknowledged that the SIDA project had a broader focus
than only the introduction of computers, and the building of human capacity was given
equal emphasis.
A Swedish IS developer was in charge of the hard task of developing the computerized
system that was called – Land Application Handling System (LAHS). The system was built
in house with Swedish support, and a big focus was on human capacity development
because of poor knowledge of computers and low educational levels. One of the
interviewees at DINAGECA said,
The developer had a good approach, of building a system and in parallel
training this people, to use and maintain the system. The new approach does
not benefit us. We do not know what is going on with the development of the
new system…
Such statements of praise for the Swedish were common in most of the interviewees.
Training given by this developer also focused on basics in computer sciences, the author
saw in the exercise-book that an interviewee showed, topics relating to computer systems,
networking, programming, flow diagrams, operating systems, Structured Query Language
(SQL) for Windows, algorithms, and logic in mathematics. Given the relatively limited
time frame of the project, training could not be completed, even though the marks of the
Swedish developer in DINAGECA were still said to endure. However, in the system
development process there was limited participation from the Mozambican side, since there
were no trained people, and so the system was based totally on the Swedish
conceptualization of a LMIS.
Copyright © 2007 The Authors
In 1997, the first version of the system was installed, in all the 10 provincial directorates
of DINAGECA in the country, and in the central in Maputo. However, according to one of
the interviewees, the system did not include graphic and map data, because of system
limitations, and the fact that the system was prone to many errors. Data from the provincial
directorates was transferred to the Maputo offices using, cds and diskettes leading to lots of
challenges relating to data duplication and missing data in many cases. The Year 2000
problem also influenced the functioning of the system, as it was not Y2K compliant.
To address these existing problems and to incorporate the new e-governance mandate, a
new system started to be built and used at the SPGCs since 2004. However, there is still a
long way to go, as the system currently only allows the registration of the application for
land tenures, no reports can be produced for decision making, and no graphic data could be
incorporated. Back to the field, in January 2007, the system did suffer any changes. Only,
the organization structure has changed and the system developer ceased the contract, which
to a certain point affects the development of system.
This is an online system, that is running under the government network (Govnet)iii, and
is considered as an e-government system, aiming at providing, online services to the
citizens such as information about land, submissions of the land application through the net,
follow up of the applications, etc. and also it is aimed to link the different ministries and
institutions that deal with land issues in the country. In total, there are 22 ministries and
other institutions involved with the processes around providing concessions in
However, the situation in terms of human capital is still similar to the situation of the
nineties, and the current consultant is South African. The author was told that it had to be
so, to enable south-to-south cooperation, which is more affordable than hiring someone
from the north, and also technical support is more accessible. Nevertheless, the South
African consultant is also ten times more expensive than local one, but they are not
available with the right skills and in adequate numbers. A manager said in an interview:
I trained 3 guys in the most expensive technologies for building this system
(SQL servers and other GIS applications and programming), in Europe, but,
after while this people went to the private sector.
There is no way to keep well-trained national staff in the organization, due to the
miserable salaries of the public sector. The same manager said:
I need at least 33 technical staff with university level, to distribute 3 in each
province, but, by now I have only 3 in Maputo.
From the side of the users (the data entry personal), there was a definite lack of ICT
knowledge (although they used Word, Excel and Power Point), and the understanding of
the e-government concept is very limited. In all the author’s interviews at the provincial
level, the respondents had already heard about e-government, but had limited understanding
of what it meant. GIS knowledge was literally non-existent, even amongst the geographers
and surveyors. GIS as a disciple has not been introduced in the university curriculum, as
confirmed by 3 recent university graduates at the basic level, who were interviewed by the
author. A geographer, who had graduated from the university in the 90s, and working with
land tenure concessions, also confirmed that when he graduated in the 1990s, also there
were no GIS courses.
From the perspective of the end user, the problem was more delicate. During the
process of land concession, the land law establishes a step called “community
consultation”. In this step, the ward authorities and people living in and owning land plots
that make frontier with the one being conferred or those in the neighbourhood are called for
consultation and to testimony the land concession. The applicant and a representative of
DINAGECA are also participants in such sessions. The testimonies are in these sections
called to respond mainly that they do or do not know: the new owner; his/her intentions
Copyright © 2007 The Authors
regarding to that piece of land; the previous owner; the localization and limits of the plot;
and above all, to respond that they do or not agree with such concession. After, the
discussion on these issues, a minutes is created, read aloud and signed by all the
In this consultation, a minimal literacy is required, this is, to know how to write your
own name and sign it. Most of the rural citizens are illiterate, and they cannot read or write.
The forms outlining the consultation steps and minutes are written in Portuguese, which
then has to be translated into the local language (for example, xichangana, swahili,
maconde, etc) to provid the testimonies of the land concession. For those who are literate
participants, they easily sign and write their roles as requested in the minutes (see Figure 1).
For those who are non-literate participants, the ink of a pen is spread on the index finger
and then stamped in the place were the participant should sign (the head of the meeting
write the participant’s name in front of the finger print). Figures 2 and 3 depict how the
non-literate people are participating in the land concession process when it comes to
reading and writing skills.
Figure 1. This is one testimony
with signing the form.
Figure 2. A pen ink is being spread
in finger of an illiterate woman
Figure 3. Then she puts a finger tip
the coloured finger as a finger print.
Currently 3 systems are working at the SPGC: the manual system, since most of the
procedures of land concessions are manually done; the LAHS; and, the e-government
system (LMIS). LMIS is being used until now only to register the land tenures. LMIS is
still incomplete providing to the majority of the user only the functionality that allows
introducing the text part of the land tenures, remaining the graphic aside. Officially, the
previous electronic system (LHAS) has been abolished and is now not working, but
workers at the SPGC are using it, for introducing data and to verify the status of some of
the applications of land tenure.
6. Discussion and Recommendations
While there are many relevant issues in this case, cultural, institutional and organizational
ones as identified in prior research (for example by Sahay, Walsham, Puri, Madon and
Barrett), do not seem to be the most pressing ones. The author argues that the issue of
literacy to be the most crucial challenge, which is undermining both the uptake of the
system, and more broadly the national development efforts. This problem is magnified by
the fact that there is only one developer building LMIS with national level implications,
primarily because there is no local capacity available. This was also the situation in the
earlier LHAS example, reflecting no discernible shift in local literacy capacity.
In Sen’s development as freedom, e-government is an important element as it promises
citizens access to information that can remove their constraints, in this case relating to land
ownership, which can help them to realize their potential and exercise their choices, and
above all to participate in national decision making processes related to land concessions
and negotiations. But illiteracy is preventing them from participating in these development
processes, as if they cannot read and write, they cannot access the basic means of
E-government in order to succeed needs citizen participation, which requires people to
be able to browse information, read, write and analyse critically. For the ambitious
e-government visions inscribed in the LMIS to be achieved, the government needs to be
less passive, and undertake some urgent interventions, such as converting the application to
Copyright © 2007 The Authors
multi-media which relies also on voice and visuals and not just on text. For example,
mobile phones, in a high degree of use in Mozambique, could also be innovatively used.
Specific and focused education campaigns for local communities need to be designed and
provided for those who cannot afford to attend formal education. Similarly, mass media,
can also play an active role in this process.
From the side of the developers, they require short term courses in ICTs, information,
GIS, e-government and other important specializations, coupled with longer term measures
to contain the brain drain to the private sectors, for example by offering more competitive
salaries in the public services. In the longer term, structural changes are required in the
educational systems to incorporate courses on ICTs, information and computer literacy
from the primary school level, in order to develop a new generation of information and ICT
literate people. For example, the use of GIS could be supported if students in primary
school have a stronger orientation towards the use of maps and the development of spatial
thinking. Specific GIS courses can be included in university curriculum. Some measures
may not have impact in the short term, but could help develop a more prepared society for
the future.
The implementation of a LMIS is undeniable extremely important, as it can potentially
benefit the peasants that constitute the majority of the Mozambican labour, and help them
renegotiate with the more powerful and rich. However, this benefit can only be gained by
them if they are literate, and they can break the existing shackles and constraints. Literacy
is the first and undeniable step for people to participate in the land decision-making through
7. Concluding Remarks
In summary, LMIS is a very important system for the government to better manage and
administrate land, specifically in a setting where agriculture is the activity of the majority of
the population. An electronic system can provide information for the government for better
decision-making about investments on land and solve land conflicts, on one hand. On the
other hand an electronic system can help the population to participate in crucial land
decision-making process and negotiations that are fundamental to their basic survival.
These capabilities are of great importance in development as freedom advocated by Sen.
However, in the illiterate state that these people are today, they cannot avail of the benefits
that e-government initiatives like LMIS potentially provide. Therefore, there is a need for
urgent interventions, both short and long term oriented, to help realise these efforts. This
study falls under a global context in which e-government is implemented to improve
governance, and enhance development. To cover the limitations of this paper, further
research is advised to respond whether where literacy is high e-government is successful.
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[10] Orlikowski, W. and J. Baroudi (1991). Studying Information Technology in Organizations: Research
Approaches and Assumptions. Information Systems Research, 2(1), 1-28.
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Guildford Press.
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Organizational Transformation: History, Rhetoric and Practice. J. Yates and J. V. Maanen. Thousand Oaks,
Sage Publications: 275-303.
[15] Sahay, S. (1998). Implementing GIS technology in India: Some Issues of Time and Space. Accounting
Management and Information Technologies 8, 147-188.
[16] Sen, A. (2000). Development as Freedom. Oxford, Oxford University Press.
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Test of Computer Literacy and Computer Anxiety Index. Journal of Educational Computing Research. 3(2),
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[18]UTICT and UTRESP (2005). Estratégia de Governo Electrónico de Moçambique, República de
[19]Walsham, G. (1993). Interpreting Information Systems in Organizations. Chichester, John Wiley and Sons.
[20]Walsham, G. and S. Sahay (1999). GIS For District-Level Administration in India: Problems and
Opportunities. MIS Quarterly, 23(1): 39-66.
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Network intended to connect all of the government institutions and the use of some Internet services,
including an Intranet for the Government.
Copyright © 2007 The Authors
APPENDIX 6 Macueve, G. (Forthcoming) Assessment of the Outcomes of e‐
Government for Good Governance: A Case of Land Management Information System in Mozambique. International Journal of Electronic Governance. 6 Int. J. Electronic Governance, Vol. x, No. x, xxxx
Assessment of the outcomes of e-government for
good governance: a case of the Land Management
Information System in Mozambique
Gertrudes Macueve
Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences,
Department of Informatics (IFI),
University of Oslo, Building: Forskningsparken 2,
Office: Room 2152,
P.O. Box 1080 Blindern,
0316 Oslo, Norway
E-mail: [email protected]
Abstract: Enhancement of good governance is one of the opportunities that
e-government systems can offer. Based on a study of the implementation of the
Land Management Information System (LMIS) in Mozambique, this paper
analyses the outcomes of this system in relation to the principles of good
governance as described in the framework of the United Nations for
Development Framework (UNDP). The analysis shows the existence of a big
gap between the discourse and practice of e-government for good governance
in the context of developing countries. The paper explores the implications for
practitioners regarding the implementation and assessment of e-government
initiatives for good governance in the context of developing countries.
Keywords: e-government; good governance; development; LMIS; land
management information system; participation; responsiveness; effectiveness;
Reference to this paper should be made as follows: Macueve, G. (xxxx)
‘Assessment of the outcomes of e-government for good governance: a case
of Land Management Information System in Mozambique’, Int. J. Electronic
Governance, Vol. x, No. x,–xxx.
Biographical notes: Gertrudes Macueve has a background in Computer
Sciences from Universidade Eduardo Mondlane. She received her Master’s
Degree in Information Systems from the University of Oslo in 2003. She is
currently a Lecturer at the Department of Mathematics and Informatics at
Universidade Eduardo Mondlane in Maputo, Mozambique. She is pursuing her
PhD at the University of Oslo, Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Sciences,
Department of Informatics. Her current research interests include e-government
and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for development.
Good governance is a concept that has recently come into use in political science, public
administration and, more particularly in development management (Bhatnagar, 2004).
It can be conceptualised as part of a development process, with implications for equity,
Copyright © 200x Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.
G. Macueve
poverty and quality of life (Bhatnagar, 2004). The former Secretary General of the
United Nations Kofi A. Annan said1 that “good governance is perhaps the single most
important factor in eradicating poverty and promoting development”. Governments
and development agencies have shown their commitment and have seized upon the
opportunities offered by e-government to strengthen good governance, with the hope
to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of government functions through the use of
In this regard, e-government systems are seen as tools for improving good
governance by increasing the opportunities for interactions and dialogue between the
government and those it serves, and provide a channel for citizens to access government
services and participate to various degrees in decision-making processes. This, in turn,
strengthens the fundamental existence of governments to govern in a transparent, open
and accountable manner (Lim, 2003).
However, there are limited conceptually based evaluation frameworks that help to
explicitly examine the contribution of e-government initiatives to strengthening good
governance. In trying to contribute towards filling this gap, this article utilises a set of
principles of good governance from UNDP to assess the outcomes of e-government for
good governance in Mozambique.
The specific context of application concerns land. The government of Mozambique
has recognised that land is a crucial resource for development generally and is a source
for conflict and disorder in the society. Further, better management of land can
contribute significantly to furthering the social development aims of the country.
Acknowledging this importance, in 2004 the government of Mozambique initiated the
implementation of an e-government system for land management – LMIS. This system
explicitly aims to ensure the adoption of principles of good governance in land
management; for example, to enable the marginalised population to own land and to have
the resources to manage it. Furthermore, the aim is to ensure that land distribution takes
place based on a process of broad consensus in society and that the voices of the poorest
and the most vulnerable are heard.
After nearly two years of implementation of the LMIS, it should be possible to
discern the visible impacts of the system with respect to its aims of strengthening good
governance in land management, and which the longer term trajectories being established
are. Such an evaluation can firstly guide the continuing implementation process of
LMIS, and also help to develop broader implications in understanding the link between
e-government and good governance, specifically within Mozambique, and more broadly,
within the context of developing countries. The main research question addressed in this
paper is “What principles of good governance can be found and also not found in LMIS
after two years of implementation with regard to land management?” To address this
research question, empirical work was carried out through an interpretive case study
during the period from 2006 to 2007.
The rest of the article is organised as follows. In Section 2, the conceptual framework
guiding this analysis is presented. Section 3 describes the research methodology.
The case study is presented in Section 4. Section 5 provides the analysis and discussion
of the case. Lastly, conclusions and implications drawn from the study are presented in
Section 6.
Assessment of the outcomes of e-government for good governance
E-government and good governance
The principal research focus on e-government in developing countries has been on the
supply side, primarily related to the provision of infrastructure, issues related to technical
design, cost-benefit analysis and the management of change within particular institutional
conditions (Bhatnagar, 2004; Heeks, 2000; Madon, 2004). Related analyses have
focused on the legal and infrastructure issues required for e-government (Basu, 2004),
understanding of best practices (Krishna and Walsham, 2005) and, in some cases, their
impact on issues of social development (Madon, 2004). Despite the wide range of issues
covered, the focus of the research can be described as biased and technically
oriented, based on anecdotal case studies (Grönlund, 2004). A significant gap in the
literature concerns the lack of clear theoretical and analytical understanding of the role
of development theory in assessing and designing e-government systems (De, 2006).
Frameworks that involve development issues, such as related to good governance, can
potentially help develop deeper insights into the value of e-government applications.
Since the early 1990s, the notion of good governance as necessary for development
and poverty reduction has gained widespread currency, especially amongst international
organisations and national ministries. The World Bank was the first major
donor institution to adopt the concept of good governance as a condition for lending
money to developing countries (Haldenwang, 2004). In the ‘Monterrey Consensus’
(2002), international development agencies, non-governmental organisations and
governments agreed on a set of development aid policies and guidelines, stressing the
importance of good governance (Ciborra and Navarra, 2005). For example, one of the
guidelines stipulated that developed countries would increase aid and financial flows to
developing countries and harmonise cooperation with national policies for poverty
reduction and administrative process, which was further seen to be crucial in the
achieving of the Millennium Development Goals. The ‘Monterrey Consensus’ and other
similar declarations assume an inter linkage, if not a clear causality between good
governance and poverty reduction (DANIDA, 2004).2
Poor governance is stated to be among the most important causes of state failure and
underdevelopment. Hence, innovations and reforms in the governmental and bureaucratic
apparatus are seen to be important prerequisites for development (Ciborra and
Navarra, 2005). Therefore, increasingly, e-government projects are being initiated
in developed countries and in the international development arena with the goal of
‘e-enabling’ good governance in the public sector (Hesse, 2007).
The main objectives of e-government, according to Ciborra and Navarra (2005), are
to restructure administrative functions and processes; overcome barriers to coordinate
and cooperate within the public administration; monitor government performance; and
improve the relationship between government and the citizens. Good governance
underpins the ability to manage effectively the transition of developing countries to
improved states of development, a process that is fundamentally conditional on
the implementation of good policies (Hesse, 2007). These policies aim to promote
participation, democracy, reduce corruption, increase transparency, and expand human
capabilities (World Bank, 1997). The IMF has recently accepted good governance as one
of the criteria for the eligibility of loans (Indian Express Newspapers, 1997).
G. Macueve
Given this assumed causality, e-government initiatives need to be evaluated based on
the criterion of the degree to which they contribute to good governance (United Nations,
2002). This evaluation is complex because although there is a broad understanding of the
concept, a great deal of variation exists in the specification of objectives and measures of
e-government, and its comparison and rankings both within and across countries. In cases
where such implementations are evaluated, it is unclear what methods are being used and
whether they are effective (Jones et al., 2006). According to Simonis (2004) what to
measure, as well as which indicators to select is usually based on certain analytical
frameworks which typically have a normative character (Simonis, 2004). For example,
Rao et al. (2004) provide an e-government assessment framework which contains
indicators related to the following dimensions:
services (for example, speed of delivery, quality of services, user independence
of time)
technology (for example, inter-operability, standards, security, scalability)
sustainability (for example, extent and adequacy of training, collection of users
charges, economic benefits to the users in rural areas)
cost-effectiveness (for example, recovery of capital cost, degree of reduction of
corruption, extent of cost reduction to government)
replicability (for example, commercial viability, quality of user manuals, multiple
platform feasibility).
These different indicators are ranked on a scale from 0–5, and based on which a total
score for the project is calculated, leading to its categorisation of extremely good, good,
satisfactory and poor. Table 1 summarises some of the other frameworks proposed in the
Table 1
Frameworks proposed in the literature
Sahil Mehra
(2005) – Assess
via websites
Ownership (to assess if professional agency participated in developing the
Domain – website name (to assess the domain name and whether it is
representative of the site)
Council address and contact (to assess weather it is available)
Website provides vision/mission of the organisation and it’s future
Website links to other governmental agencies
Website provides organisational structure in graphic form
Website provides reports and research in easily readable format
Website disseminates information on regulations and instructions
Website provides interactive functions
Website provides freshness/timeliness of data Assess web design.
Website provides e-commerce and e-democracy functions
Assessment of the outcomes of e-government for good governance
Table 1
Frameworks proposed in the literature (continued)
Commission of
the European
Does websites allow sending on-line forms?
Gupta and Jana
Hard measures: cost benefit analysis; benchmarks in e-government.
Are citizens able to contact with elected representatives by means of
Do countries have enough capabilities to develop e-government?
Soft measures: scoring methods; stages of e-government; sociological
angle; hierarchy of measures: levels
As the limitations of technical frameworks for assessing e-government projects are
being acknowledged, there is a definite move in the research community to also include
non-technical issues in their evaluation which focus on the demand side of peoples’
needs. For example, Madon (2004) and De (2006) have used the capability approach
of development from Sen (2000) to assess the outcomes of e-government in India.
De (2006), in evaluating a land record system in India, found that while assessing it in
terms of project design and implementation, the system was evaluated as a success.
However, when assessed as development project it was found that did not improve issues
of transparency, economic opportunities, political participation and access to land;
therefore, the system was evaluated as a failure. Madon (2004), in turn, in evaluating a
one-stop Information Technology (IT) enabled payment counters in India, and found
that this facility has improved some demand side aspects such as staff motivation,
work satisfaction and the image of the government; empowered the majority of
local entrepreneurs including women in becoming self-starters and less reliant on the
government for ideas and back up. Both authors argue that the capability approach
enables us to go beyond the aspects of the demand side (for example, ICT infrastructure,
access to technology) and assess the impact of e-government on human basic needs.
This paper draws upon the nine characteristics of good governance as outlined in the
UNDP framework (UNDP, 1997). This framework is adopted because of its stronger
focus on people, and its more holistic inclusion of aspects of good governance and
development. This framework is grounded in a definition of good governance as
the exercise of political, economic and administrative authority in the management of the
country’s affairs including land. It is based upon the principles of participation, strategic
vision, rule of law, transparency, responsiveness, consensus orientation, equity building,
effectiveness and efficiency and accountability.
Participation refers to the act of involving people with no discrimination in decision
making processes either directly or through legitimate intermediate institutions that
represent their interests. Rule of law designates the act of being fair, impartial and
objectively putting the law in place. Transparency means that processes, institutions and
information are directly accessible to those concerned with them, and enough information
is provided to understand and monitor them. Responsiveness refers to how institutions
and processes try to serve all stakeholders within a reasonable timeframe.
Consensus oriented suggests a mediation of different interests to reach a broad consensus
on what is in the best interests of the group and, where possible, on policies
and procedures. Equity refers to the act of providing quality of wealth and well-being
to all people with no discrimination. Effectiveness and efficiency denote the best use
G. Macueve
of resources in the achievement of the goals of the institutions. Accountability is
synonymous with answerability, enforcement, responsibility, blameworthiness, liability
and other terms associated with the expectation of account-giving. It is applied to all
whose decision making and actions will affect the pubic and institutional stakeholders.
And finally, the Strategic vision emphasizes the broad and long-term perspective on good
governance and development.
Although, the UNDP approach has been widely used in studies relating to
development, democracy, public sector, ICT, gender, economic and political analysis,
empirical assessment of case studies are hardly found in the literature, with an exception
being a study by Kethani et al. (2006). Kethani and colleagues have analysed the
outcomes of e-government project (called Fez e-government) in Morocco that aims to
allow citizens to request and receive governmental services in an easy and efficient way.
The authors argued that it is not necessary that all the attributes of good governance to be
considered in a specific assessment project, and the choice needs to be contextualised
within the project’s aims. Similarly, in the present study, a subset of the relevant
UNDP principles of good governance have been selected and adapted to assess LMIS.
These include:
Participation: Given our empirical focus on land and issues of land concession, whose
administration and management involves different constituencies and stakeholders,
participation becomes an important criterion for evaluation.
Responsiveness: A historical problem with land conflicts concerns the inordinate amount
of time taken to solve them within the existing legal framework. Making the time frame
of such a process more reasonable makes responsiveness as an important criterion for
Effectiveness, efficiency and efficacy: Given the scarcity of the (land) resources and the
severe pressures on it, effectiveness, efficiency and efficacy become important criteria to
include in assessing the LMIS.
How these principles are adapted in the context of this research is summarised in Table 2.
Table 2
Adaptation of UNDP principles to propose a conceptual framework for LMIS
Good governance
UNDP definition
Definition applied in this paper
All men and women
should have a voice in
A process during which individuals, groups and
organisations are consulted about or have the
opportunity to become actively involved in any
activity, in this case in land decision making
process including the development of tools for
land management
Institutions and
processes try to serve
all stakeholders
Taking into account the expectations of civil
society, government, civil servants and citizens,
responsiveness is the capacity and flexibility that
the land management system has to respond
rapidly to these institutions
Assessment of the outcomes of e-government for good governance
Table 2
Adaptation of UNDP principles to propose a conceptual framework for LMIS
Good governance
and efficiency
(and efficacy)
UNDP definition
Definition applied in this paper
Processes and
institutions produce
results that meet needs
while making the best
use of resources
Effectiveness: The land system, when used under
ordinary circumstances, does what it is intended
to do
Efficiency: Adequacy of the system in
accomplishing a particular result; the degree to
which the system produces an output avoiding
waste of resources
Efficacy: The extent to which the system
improves the outcome for the organisation
and/or citizens under ideal circumstances.
(Testing efficacy means finding out whether
something is capable of causing an effect at all)
The case study is now described.
The case study
This study investigated the electronic Land Management Information System (LMIS)
being implemented by the government of Mozambique since 2004. A brief overview of
the LMIS and its associated implementation context is now outlined.
3.1 Context
Mozambique is a developing country positioned at the 168th out 177 countries in
the Human Development report for 2006 (UNDP, 2006). Given that almost 80% of the
population live in rural areas and agriculture is the activity on which 90% of
the population depends, land management is a crucial component of the development
agenda of the government. Within the Action Plan for the Reduction of Absolute
Poverty, agriculture and rural development constitute the first priority, and land is an
important asset to promote social welfare and economic development. Land is
an indispensable resource for the production of agro-cattle breeding, for forestry and
fauna exploitation, for the conservation and maintenance of the biodiversity
and ecological equity, and for the construction of economic, social and habitation
3.2 Land management
The current land law in Mozambique was issued in 1997. This law establishes that the
states owns the land but grants usage rights to individuals, communities, and companies
in the form of 100 year lease agreements which can be transferred, but not sold or
mortgaged. Usage rights emerge either through occupancy or by a specific grant through
the state. The government can issue use right title documents (land tenures) to land
G. Macueve
holders, although those who occupy the land for more than ten years acquire permanent
use rights without the need for title documents.
The institutional context and processes of land management in Mozambique is
complex, with at least 22 ministries, ordinary people and local authorities involved in the
grant of land concession. Land deeply embraces customary local (African) laws in the
allocation of land use rights, resolution of conflicts, and the subsequent management of
resources. The land law encourages the adoption of participatory approaches by involving
communities in the provision of land tenures and formalises the informal by recognising
customary regimes.
Land management in Mozambique has, since colonial times, been done
manually using paper, with the flow of documents and tacit information involving
different levels of administration (localities, districts, provinces and national level
offices). During the period between 1975 and 1990, the government tried to continue
using the legacy system left by the colonial government and at the same time customize it
to their local needs with the very limited resources (qualified human resources and
Attempts to build a computerized Geographic Information System (GIS) using
Arcview software started in 1991, with little impact on redefining the paper based
flows, both in content and with regard to who was involved but was, however,
deployed in all the country’s 10 provinces. The system was not complete and was
stand-alone, which required the manual movement of data from the different
provinces to the central database in Maputo, where the national cadastre was updated.
With the end of the contract of the system developer and the Y2K problems in 2000,
the system stopped to be developed, and a new development initiative was taken up in
Aside from the historical lack of an organised and complete computerized system,
land management has remained a socio-political issue that has been a source of conflicts
and discontentment for the Mozambicans. For example, in the colonial time, the
Portuguese government granted concession of land in fertile areas to larger commercial
interests and moved the local people to less fertile areas (Hanchinamani, 2000). With the
shift to the new government after independence in 1975, departments within the
government granted land use rights to foreign interests and other influential individuals at
the expense of small landholders and private interests. Principles of equity and rule of
law in good governance were violated.
In addition, tensions heightened because of numerous overlapping land requests
and the provision of land use concession verified during this period (Hanchinamani,
2000; PASS, 2003).3 The land concession process showed over time to proceed
without direction, transparency or equitable competition for resources. With the
government recognition of land conflicts as one impediment for the country’s
development, the government decided to strengthen land management through modern
means to establish good governance. The implementation of an electronic system
(called LMIS) running over the internet was one of the government’s solutions to take
advantage of the potential for data sharing among the different stakeholders, higher
capacity for data storage, enhancing the ability to integrate different institutional
databases, and to provide speedy and more accurate responses to citizen requests.
This initiative was in line with the broader processes of public sector reforms ongoing in
Assessment of the outcomes of e-government for good governance
3.3 Electronic land management information system
The LMIS was conceptualised as an integrated system which, on one side, is supposed to
offer the capability to electronically register land plots and tenures, and in the future,
potentially provide citizens with the capacity to access the system via the web to apply
for land tenures, and follow up on applications for land registration and tenures. From an
institutional perspective, LMIS was expected to provide cross-sectoral information to
decision-makers, such as relating to the use of land for business investments, mining, the
building of new roads, and also health sector planning such as for targeting of malaria
campaigns. LMIS was also designed to establish a land inventory to help better manage
and administrate natural resources.
LMIS is, today, installed in all provinces and data about land concessions and tenures
are being entered into the system. The project is being implemented by the National
Directorate of Geography and Cadastre (DINAGECA,4 the acronym in Portuguese) under
the aegis of the Ministry of Agriculture. DINAGECA is responsible for the national
mapping (topographic and thematic), land administration and land management.
Research methodology
Epistemologically, this research falls under the category of an interpretive study which
assumes that similar situations can be interpreted differently by researchers. According to
Orlikowski and Boroudi (1991), the aim of interpretive studies is not the construction of
an ‘objective’ account; rather, it is the description of social and shared understandings
around the phenomenon under study. Furthermore, interpretive studies do not seek to
generalise from a setting to a population, but to develop an understanding of the deeper
structure of a phenomenon:
“producing an understanding of the context of the information system, and the
process whereby by information system influences and is influenced by its
context.” (Walsham, 1993, pp.4–5)
This study took place in three provinces (Maputo, Sofala and Cabo Delgado) of
Mozambique where the LMIS was being implemented. These provinces are
heterogeneous in terms of distribution of resources, cultural traditions and the status of
development. Maputo, the capital province and decision-making centre of the country, is
more developed and is endowed with greater resources, with also increased pressures on
land. Land cadastre of the country is updated in Maputo, also involving the finalisation of
the land concession and tenure decisions taken in the country, and the subsequent
updating of the database. Studying the same system in the three provinces helped to
provide me with different insights to the research problem.
Specifically, during the research process I visited DINAGECA, and the provincial
directorates of agriculture in the three selected provinces (see Figure 1).
The research process can be divided into three phases during the period from 2006 to
2007. The corresponding periods, aims and outcomes of the three phases are summarised
in Table 3.
G. Macueve
Figure 1
Table 3
Map of Mozambique and administrative division in provinces
Research periods
March to August
Negotiate access to the field and
explore the land management system
Background Information about
land management and its
information systems
January to
February 2007
Make a thoroughly investigation of the
land system and compare the situation
in different provinces
A picture which reflects the
country’s status of
implementation of the land
July 2007
Complete data collection and
clarification of misunderstandings
Assessment of LMIS
4.1 Data collection methods
The data collection methods used in the research included semi-structured interviews,
document analysis, direct and participatory observation. Respondents included managers
of the systems, and decision-makers from different departments in the Ministry of
Agriculture. Further, technicians, system users, local authorities and some ordinary
citizens were also interviewed (see Table 4 for a summary of the informants).
Different issues were explored through the empirical inquiry. Specifically, with the
system users and land technicians (surveyors), I tried to understand their perceptions of
the achievements of the system so far, and the challenges they experienced in working
with it. With the system managers, apart from the potentialities of the system, I tried to
understand from them the ongoing process of the system development and key associated
problems. The interviews typically lasted from about 30 min to 2 h and took place at the
informants’ offices. For ordinary citizens and local authorities, interviews took place in
their home places, in the street, and while they were engaged in their everyday activities.
Interviews were not recorded, and only notes with paper and pen were taken.
Assessment of the outcomes of e-government for good governance
Observations were carried out in the field visits in parallel with the aim to view,
in situ, the system, the equipments in use, and the interaction of people with the systems
in their everyday work. The documents analysed included the Mozambican land law,
government development policies, brochures about the profiles of the provinces,
procedures of land concession, curriculum of different school degrees, and documents
related to the history and culture of Mozambique. These documents helped me to enrich
my understanding of the cultural, socio-economic and political context of Mozambique.
Table 4
Interviews conducted
No. of interviews
People interviewed
2 managers of LMIS
4 LMIS users + 1 central
2 Local authorities
12 normal citizens
2 managers
4 users of LMIS
6 local authorities
2 managers
5 users of LMIS
7 local authorities
4.2 Data analysis
During fieldwork, short notes were made on observations and interviews conducted,
from which daily summaries were developed, expanded, organized, and made ready
for analysis. Analysis of the empirical data was done through a ‘manual’ process
(Glasser and Strauss, 1967) of (re) reading several times the field notes and reflecting on
it by linking the observations, document analysis, interview notes, context and finally
constructing themes. The UNDP based principles helped to provide a guiding frame for
describing the themes, and to compare and contrast with my empirical findings.
In this section, I first discuss the expectations around the LMIS as seen from
the normative perspective of the UNDP defined principles of good governance. Next, the
LMIS is evaluated with respect to these principles, specifically related to participation;
responsiveness; and effectiveness, efficiency and efficacy. A summary table is then
presented comparing and contrasting LMIS expectations and findings.
5.1 LMIS expectations
The strategic vision of the government is to implement a modern, efficient, reliable
cross-sectoral and transparent LMIS in order to facilitate land rights’ application handling
G. Macueve
within the cadastral services, the national directorate, its provincial services, and
the municipal directorates of construction and urbanisation. The aim is to support
cross-checking and validation of all legal requirements for land rights registration, land
administration and management. In addition, the LMIS is expected to facilitate
the administration and management of land and other natural resources within the
government institutions. Operationally, these aims are to be met by LMIS through
facilitating input, consultation, verification, updating and use of land and other natural
resources information, based on a comprehensive and integrated database.
By implementing LMIS, the government intends to improve its accountability
by delivering high quality national geo-referenced data and land information in a
cost-effective manner involving modern and state of the art ICTs. Using a cross – sectoral
database, the government aims to bring consensus in land administration by the
involvement of various relevant stakeholders. This process of sharing and consensus
building is expected to help improve visibility and enforce the rule of law and
impartiality. This approach was in contrast to the ‘black boxed’ and informal approach of
the past. Further, transparency was expected to be enhanced through the use of the web
which would enable the public and other constituencies to follow up on their applications.
5.2 Good governance principles evaluated in LMIS
This study found that although LMIS was not completely deployed, all the provincial
directorates received an order from the central offices of DINAGECA for digitising the
existing data, land tenures in LMIS for the purposes of land inventory showing what land
was occupied and what was available.
Since the land concession process should involve participation of many different
institutions (see Figure 2), this study wanted to know how this was carried out in the
LMIS, especially concerning the system users and land surveyors. It was examined if, for
example, the users had participated in discussion meetings about the system specification
and underlying requirements. Unfortunately, all the system users and land surveyors
interviewed answered in the negative, and only the top level had been involved. The users
said they played a very passive role, only informing the top level managers when
something in the released modules was not working properly.
Responsiveness was assessed at both the internal and external levels. While the
internal level concerned the activities within the government agencies (land surveyors,
geographers and decision makers), the external level concerned the interface with
customers, both public and business in general. Improvements in the internal processes
would strengthen the external interface. Internally interviewees said that the LMIS had
helped to better organise land information and simplified the process of searching
information. A land surveyor said:
“… in case we need some information about a land tenure, it is much easy to go
to LMIS input a data field either name of the land applicant or number of the
process tenure, then we get information we want in seconds … compared to
long time periods used to check the same information on the archives spread all
over the shelves…”
However, the external effect of this to the customers in terms of reducing the
response time had not taken place, but was expected to do so in the future. The process of
digitizing land tenures at the province level is complex and compartmentalised.
Assessment of the outcomes of e-government for good governance
For example, attribute data relating to land tenure are entered in the LMIS at the province
level, and the corresponding spatial information is entered at the central offices of
DINAGECA in Maputo. Coordinating these processes in parallel is institutionally
Figure 2
Some institutions from the central government of Mozambique dealing with land
concession (see online version for colours)
Source: Adapted from Mucombo (2004)
Due to the incomplete nature of the LMIS, land surveyors were forced to deal with both
the electronic and manual systems in parallel. The majority of the procedures of land
registration are performed manually. Another land surveyor said:
“… we still use both systems the manual and the electronic, by contrary instead
of improvements in terms of decreasing the number of activities, processes,
resources and efforts … the number of activities have doubled.”
Evaluating efficiency and efficacy involved understanding the capability of the LMIS to
improve operations without the need for additional resources (software). This study found
various pieces of software (for example, Excel spreadsheets to control payment of land
taxes, mapping systems to build maps, ArcGIS and Arcview software of different
versions) still being used without any effort to integrate them. The LMIS in this context
was an added on resource without visible impacts on operations yet. The managers
described the LMIS development as a status quo situation due to lack of internal
technical capacity in GIS, and also in the country. The development of LMIS was
initiated in 2004 through a foreign resource, and after his departure development came to
a standstill, leaving only limited modules partially deployed in the provinces. A manager
“… the system is not yet developed at all … we released only modules of
entering text data into the database because we found that our land surveyors
have weak skills regarding to GIS to allow them to deal with maps in
the system … therefore, maps of the land processes are sent via email from the
provinces to the national level where the land cadastre is updated …”
Nonetheless, the process of implementation of the LMIS helped the staff to better
appreciate local knowledge. While the provincial directorate was conducting a land
G. Macueve
survey in one of the visited provinces, the study found that land plots, when attributed to
someone by DINAGECA, are generally delimited by stones (see Picture 1 in Figure 3).
However, sometimes this attribution is done without stones because either the stones are
not available at that moment or due to some other reason. When attribution is done using
stones, the stones sometimes disappear, either due to human or natural action. At the time
of land survey, which corresponded with this research, the DINAGECA workers needed
information of the delimitation of the plots. Since the existing system could not provide
such information, a representative of the ward was asked to accompany the survey team,
and also to counter the sometimes untrustworthiness of the owners. I, and the survey
team, found it amazing how the representative was able to, in the depths of the forest,
without any ‘modern’ technology, identify where the stones were placed years before,
and where plots of land started and ended in places were the stones were removed or not
put. This local knowledge was then combined by the geographers with information being
gathered by the Global Positioning System (GPS), and registering it in order to later feed
their database. This practical situation emphasised to me the importance of incorporating
such valuable local knowledge into modern e-government applications. Picture 2 shows
the chief of the ward (the man with a stick in his left hand), while Picture 3 shows the
researcher and the geographers using the GPS and registering data.
Figure 3
Picture 1: The stone used for land delimitation. Picture 2: The chief of the ward
identifying the delimitation. Picture 3: The author and the geographers
Table 5 summarises the findings, by contrasting the expectations of the LMIS with what
was observed empirically.
Table 5
Summary of the findings
Principle of good
Expectations of the LMIS Themes identified
Transfer the participation
inscribed in the manual
system to the electronic
system of land
administration and
Provide the same
opportunities to all
(citizens) to access land
Participation in the
development of egovernment systems
Users not providing
alternative solutions for
the current status of
Use of local knowledge
and participation of local
communities on egovernment
Local communities
providing useful
information on land for
the land surveyors to
build the land cadastre
and inventory
Workers operating the
comprises direct and
indirect use of the
Assessment of the outcomes of e-government for good governance
Table 5
Summary of the findings (continued)
Principle of good
Expectations of the LMIS
Themes identified
To be proactive to land
Internal response time Reduced time for
searching a specific
Improve the response time to External response time Time to process a land
application did not
Automate the land
administration and
management processes
Efficiency and
To integrate different
Parallel systems
databases and software in use
by the different institutions
Use of alternative
software to accomplish
the aims of LMIS
Delivering high quality
national geo-referenced data
and land information for
better planning and decision
making to the government
activities and the public in
general in the most costeffective manner possible
LMIS not yet
Build a cross-sectional
database based upon the same
source of information
Analysis and discussion
After providing details of the case and the respective findings, this section presents an
analysis of the LMIS implementation with respect to its good governance outcomes,
namely, participation; responsiveness; effectiveness, efficiency and efficacy.
6.1 Participation
The UNDP definition states that all men and women should have a voice in
decision-making, and does not define any kind of discrimination, therefore, making the
concept open for inclusion of various types of people and modes of participation.
Even so, in general, participation in e-government or e-participation is often interpreted
as the use of ICT-supported participation in processes (service delivery, decision making
and policy making) involved in government and governance. Specifically, it is
usually viewed as the use of ICTs to broaden and deepen political participation by
enabling citizens to connect with one another and with their elected representatives
(Macintosh, 2006). Furthermore, it is sometimes equated with e-democracy (Clift, 2003).
In this sense, participation in e-government is limited to ICT-skilled people and to
political issues. This paper argues that participation in e-government goes beyond that
and includes people and activities that are not necessarily ICT-based.
G. Macueve
Beside the processes described above, it also encompasses participation in
the development of e-government systems and in activities that are related to its
implementation which do not need necessarily to be ICT-based. Taking this broader
view, necessarily moves our analytical focus beyond the usual government – citizen
interface, and also includes various other stakeholders who this article argues should be
included in the participation network.
This expansion of focus has been argued for by Byrne and Sahay (2007), who discuss
participation in the context of health information systems in developing countries.
Such a perspective helps to attain the aims of good governance as it argues for the
involvement of marginalised people in decision making regardless to their direct
interaction with e-government applications. Byrne and Sahay (2007) argue that usually
little attention is paid to those people who will be affected through the delivery of the
computer-based services in community settings, an issue particularly relevant in the
context of e-government applications like LMIS.
In this case study, assessment of LMIS included not solely the involvement of
stakeholders in direct interaction with the system, but also, of other stakeholders engaged
in the development of LMIS and also involvement in other activities that contribute to
system, such as in establishing the database. While Byrne and Sahay (2007) looked at the
participation extended to those affected by the system, this paper looks at those who
contribute to the system; but because their activities are manual and performed outside
the organisation where the system is physically installed, they are often not considered in
e-participation. Following, each type of participation assessed is discussed.
Involvement in the development of LMIS
Participation or user involvement in systems development is widely advocated in analysis
and design of Information Systems (IS) and software engineering. This thought is
supported in the approaches of system’s development such as Joint Application Design
(JAD) and Rapid Application Development (RAD).
Participatory design is important in e-government for good governance because it is
considered ethically and morally right that workers/stakeholders be involved in the
development of system that will be used and/or affect their lives (Byrne and Sahay,
2007). This approach is argued to overcome the failures of traditional technical
approaches of systems/software design (Fitzgerald et al., 2002; Lyytinen and Klein,
1985). “It is also a pragmatic and ideological approach that helps efficiency, satisfaction
and progress which is morally right” (Mumford, 1984, p.103). E-government, by
definition, inscribes various moral concerns. The concept of participatory design has been
enlarged to include aspects of stakeholders’ emancipation (Lyytinen and Klein, 1985).
According to Asaro (2000), it represents a collective resource approach with emphasis on
improving the quality of systems, empowering stakeholders, autonomy in work group
organizations through power sharing, joint responsibility and multiple leaderships.
However, according to Byrne and Sahay (2007) and Puri et al. (2007) research in this
context and many of the associated debates have been confined to western contexts, with
very limited and peripheral contact with developing country settings.
Byrne and Sahay (2007) report a case of the development of a community-based child
health IS that can be used to advocate and influence decisions and policies on the rights
of children who are excluded from the national health IS in South Africa. The project
that was selected to develop the system draws first the system’s vision, then
organises workshops to discuss the vision of the system, in which it used an iterative and
Assessment of the outcomes of e-government for good governance
evolving participatory approach to make a situational analysis and assessment at the
commencement of the community child health intervention. This involved people
responsible for the children, key people in community, community health workers, the
team of the project and academic researchers. After the workshop, the original objectives
of the vision were changed to represent the different views of the community members.
In our case, the participation of systems operators in some stages of LMIS
development is a form of their inclusion in the process of decision-making which
contributes to good governance. However, this study found this form of participation
negative, and limited to top managers. Perhaps this limited participation is due to the
extremely hierarchical model of organisations entrenched in the culture of Mozambique,
where decisions tend to be taken at the top level without lower levels being consulted or
involved (Macome, 2002). The use of the systems by the lower levels tends to be a
mandated exercise. Arguably, low levels of illiteracy and weak capacity of the field level
staff contributes to this situation, but it should not be unassailable, as various researchers
(Puri et al., 2007; Madon and Sahay, 2002; Byrne and Sahay, 2007) have argued.
This use of a participatory approach in the LMIS case would arguably have
contributed to the generation of local solutions by systems operators.
Involvement in the use of LMIS
One of the expectations of LMIS implementation is to transfer the activities of
participation inscribed in the manual system of land management and administration to
an ICT-supported mode. However, despite noting the degree of visible use of the LMIS
by systems operators in most cases land surveyors, and other staff such as land officers
and land managers, the use of the system has not extended to general citizens and other
organisations due to limited functionalities, such as allowing citizens to electronically
track their application for land registration. Therefore, it is too early to say something
about whether e-participation has been attained. As a consequence, it is too early too to
say something about good governance, with respect to its potential of enabling broader
participatory processes. Much more work needs to be done in this regard, including
expanding the functionalities of the system, and motivating its use.
Involvement in LMIS related activities
This type of participation was found to be positive in the case of LMIS. If we look at
e-government applications not as just the end product, but as a process by which they
come into being and get redefined over time (Byrne and Sahay, 2007), some interesting
modes of participation were seen. For example, the case of the community members
involved in helping in the data collection for the purposes of the creation of the database
also represents a kind of e-participation, such as in the surveying and electronically
marking of plots of land. This approach of involving the community was part of the
local culture, and also helped to digitise the land in a cost effective and accurate manner.
Such participation cannot necessarily be automated, as the local knowledge is inscribed
in practices rather than in a codified and explicit form.
This mode of participation is important in e-government for good governance since it
includes voices of those excluded either by not interacting directly with the e-government
application or by reasons such as being not ICTs-skilled. However, in them lies rich and
invaluable understanding of local solutions and indigenous knowledge, as also described
by Puri and Sahay’s (2003) analysis of the use of indigenous knowledge of local
communities for GIS mapping in the context of addressing the problem of land
G. Macueve
degradation in rural India. Rather than the e-government application trying to shut out
such knowledge, the aim should be to make it visible and integrate it with the formal
knowledge of the application.
6.2 Responsiveness
Amongst other objectives, the LMIS aims to be proactive in addressing the problems of
land conflicts, land investment and development, and responding to the request for
the private sector’s demands for land. Specifically, improving the time response to the
customer is one of the most pressing problems on land concession and management
process that the ‘e’ of the LMIS can solve. The existing functionalities in the system do
not support these broader needs. Lack of responsiveness still undermines good
governance, mainly the external responsiveness towards citizens’ service delivery.
In its current stage, where the application is strengthening internal responsiveness, it
is still not creating any information capacities (Zuboff, 1988), and is primarily serving
automation functions. Through automation, the existing routines can be done faster and
cheaper than manually through the ability of computers to store, analyse, record and
transmit information accurately, speedily and in large quantities. The information
potential of the LMIS may arise, for example, when it is used for resolving land conflicts
in Mozambique, by bringing together data that were kept previously independently by
respective departments. While informing through LMIS can help to detect the underlying
land problems flawing and improve the response to citizens and decision makers,
automating maintains the same land conflicts as before.
6.3 Effectiveness, efficiency and efficacy
Making the best use of resources in land management is, to some extent, a complex issue
in countries with scarce resources. Even in developed countries, it is an extremely
difficult issue due to the high costs of GIS that comprise the LMIS. According to
Longley et al. (2005) most of the costs in GIS are likely to be based on intangibles and
are consequently hard to measure effectively. The assessment of resources involved in
LMIS is complex since it includes equipment (hardware and software), costs (services,
data) and staff. Therefore, consolidation and rationalisation of resources cannot be
measured solely on a system level it has to be done in the context of the overall
infrastructure. Therefore, this paper tried to look to the best use of resources in terms of
existing parallel software system concurring with LMIS.
One of the objectives of LMIS is to integrate the software running in various
institutions dealing with land. Building one integrated system to be used by different
institutions means that the government should be cost-effective and make better use of
resources, since it neglects the fact that each institution develops its own efforts to build
its own database. It means also to produce reliable information based on new
technologies that provide not fragmented, timely and accurate information.
Actually, running many systems is a waste of resources, but seen from the field
visits, the stakeholders are doing that because the ‘best’ solution is not yet available, and
having computerised systems makes some of their activities easy to handle. However, the
implementation of LMIS has not, under this principle, contributed to good governance.
Assessment of the outcomes of e-government for good governance
Conclusions and implications
Our major conclusion in this study is that the LMIS has the potential to deal with
land problems and respond to good governance principles, including participation.
However, the existing context is hindering the realisation of this potential, as such
leaving a wide gap between the promises and results of e-government.
With regard to assessment of e-government applications for good governance this
article has to say that numerous e-government assessment initiatives have been developed
and others are on the way, but fewer have applied an empirical and interpretive
philosophical approach. The use of an interpretive approach helped in this case to gather
various intricacies implied in the implementation of e-government applications which
remain hidden in positivist approaches. For example, to understand why the
implementation of LMIS has been in its current status, rather than to gather only what
principles of good governance are currently delivered and what are not. The usefulness of
this study with regard to assessment frameworks relies upon the fact that will help to
improve the existent frameworks, extending them to more subjective (an assessment
conducted from an engaged position) rather than applying objective (static measurement
framework without considering the dynamics of the context) realms of evaluation.
Specific to the principles of good governance, this article has to say that (e-)
participation in e-government projects is complex in the evaluation of some applications
as it can be presented in different ways. E-government cannot automate all the processes;
for example, those of land concession. However, the non-automated processes play a
great role in the success of e-government application. For example, the participation of
local people and the contribution of their knowledge are extremely important in land
decision-making and the construction of the land cadastre and inventory in Mozambique.
Therefore, they have to be included in e-participation.
The limitations of participation in e-government are not present only in
non-automatable processes, but also in the lack of skills of people to develop their own
solutions; organisational barriers which do not allow people to voice their views in
development of such systems; lack of financial resources which prevent people and
organisations from buying or building their own solutions.
Under responsiveness, the study found that while system’s users are starting to enjoy
some facilities of improvement in the timeframe of their daily activities, from the side of
the customers, the procedures are still slow. The implication for the implementers is that
modules that improve customers’ benefits also should be released to balance the benefits
for internal and external procedures and increase the satisfaction of the users. With regard
to effectiveness, while there are no resources to develop LMIS, the process of land
management will still be expensive due to the use of fragmented solutions.
Lastly, given that sufficient time has passed in order to assess the direction that
e-government applications are taking towards good governance, including e-participation,
this paper is important as it explores, empirically, the outcomes of implementation of
e-government in developing countries. The practical contribution of this study stands
upon the premise that the dissemination of these results to practitioners and decision
makers at this stage will, hopefully, bend the course of the current implementation
situation towards the achievement of good governance. In addition, the expectation
from this study is that researchers and practitioners will, in future studies, apply the
United Nation’s and other similar reference frameworks, not in a remote ways but, rather,
customised to the context. Theoretical contributions to the area of e-government have
G. Macueve
been done in this paper through the enlargement of the view of what e-participation may
mean in different cases (not solely the capacity of people to vote through the electronic
systems but also the capacity for people to participate in the implementation of
e-government applications). With regard to responsiveness, the tendency in most studies
is to assess automation, it is important to examine information and transformation.
All these aspects undermine good governance.
I am indebted to Professor Sundeep Sahay and Dr. Faraja Igira who offered insightful
comments during the elaboration of this paper.
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