CAIRO: In an effort to combat intense bureaucratic procedures that citizens have to endure, the Egyptian Non-governmental Organizations (NGO) Support Center is currently working on a project under the title “Raising Awareness of E-government Services.
The Egyptian NGO Support Center, whose mission is to have an effective civil society in Egypt, is working with different NGOs in Egypt and training them to raise awareness on e-government services in their areas.
“The idea of the project came about when we saw that governments worldwide use the e-government services for two main reasons: first, it is much easier and convenient for the citizen to do any government services online rather than going to the office and paying money on transportation, and so on, explained Mahmoud El Bably, project manager.
And second, to fight the corruption in government bodies which exists in the form of bribes the citizen pays to get a free service done, he said.
The Egyptian e-government’s program ranks 28 worldwide, based on a report by the United Nations released in 2008, however people in Egypt don’t know anything about it. “People have worked really hard on this program and the citizens for whom it is made know nothing about it, said El Bably.
After these findings, the center decided to go to a funding body, the American Development Association, who gave them around LE 170,000 for the project. It’s not a lot because we are doing it as a pilot project and later on we can get a bigger fund working with the Ministry of Administrative Development, said El Bably.
The Egyptian NGOs Support Center is collaborating with two other parties on this project. The Media Arts for Development, which is also responsible for doing the posters, brochures and the media campaign, and the Egyptian Humanitarian Relief and Rehabilitation Organization who are working on the training part of the project, organizing workshops to train the participating NGOs on using the e-government services.
With the limited budget, the center we will only be able to focus on two governorates, Cairo and Giza, for the time being. Since last July, the center has been training nearly 50 NGOs on the e-government program, 30 of which will receive funds for starting an awareness campaign in their area.
“The NGOs [campaigns will] have two objectives, first, to familiarize computer users with the e-government services, and second, for those who are not as technology-savvy to come seek their help in providing these services, explained El Bably.
The Ministry of Administrative Development’s support to the project surpassed all expectations. The ministry wants to make the NGOs official providers of these all government services, giving them licenses to provide all government services from their offices after they are done with the workshops on the e-government program.
“This came from the notion that not a lot of people are computer literate so they won’t be able to use the e-government services and this is where the NGO steps in. Any citizen who wants a service done could go to the NGO in their area and tell them and they will do it electronically or if needed they will send a representative to the government.
There has been a great demand from NGOs to participate in the project.
According to El Bably, the project is attracting NGOs that will use their participation as fundraising channels, charging citizens LE 2 for providing these services. “An NGO’s objective is to increase social welfare and make everything easier for the people and there is nothing better than providing them with any government service without making them go through the tiring process, he added.
The Egyptian NGO Support Center will end the training in February. “As the Egyptian NGO Support Center we are not working directly with the people, we are working with the NGOs, developing them and making them stronger bodies that would provide high-quality services to the people, said El Bably.
On the other hand, the NGOs are scheduled to start implementing the project this November.
The center’s future plans for this project is to give the NGOs bigger funds so that they would have computer training classes for the people in their areas, they also want to spread in other governorates. “The ministry is really supportive as their aim is to make the 26,000 NGOs around Egypt providers of government services, said El Bably.