The message

					        Role of
     Parliament in
    harnessing ICT
   for development
                By GASAMAGERA Wellars
        Member of the Political and Good Governance
                    Standing Committee
       Parliament ICT Steering Committee Focal Point

It might be profitable to look upon government somewhat less as a problem
of power and somewhat more as a problem of steering. Steering is decisively
    a matter of communication, and information is absolutely essential for
                              —Karl W. Deutsch
               The message
• Introduction
• Review on e-democracy and e-parliament,
  current status within the Parliament, future
• The question: What role should the
  Parliament play in harnessing ICT for
• The answer: Leadership and commitment..
• The way to do it: Championing, resources
  mobilization, training (computer litteracy),
  reducing the gap (technological islets),
• Conclusion and recommendations
• Technology:
  – printing (15th century), telegraphy and
    telephony (19th century), radio (20th
    century), television (1950s), public internet
    (1990s), mobile and wireless (late 1990s).
• People:
  – Individuals: elected representatives, citizens
  – Organizations: parliaments, councils,
    government, political parties, NGOs
• People and technology at cross-roads:
  better and more quickly addressing
  societal values through IT towards
  collaborative direct democracy (new
  hybrid representative democracy utilizing
• Managing information: citizen’s need to be
• Enhanced quantity, quality and cost
  effectiveness of information helps making
  sound decisions, coherence
• Full participative democratic processes
• Public space creation and debate
• Power shift – co-production and feedback
• Decentralization, rapidity of interaction,
  scalability (from individual to
• Low barriers to entry, no gatekeepers!
• Parliamentarian: representatives (moral authority
  to act on behalf of their constituency); delegates
• ICT: conveying views to representatives more
  easily; representatives more empowered to make
  decisions, vastly increased knowledge of
  government activities
• Risk of information overload, transforming
  representatives into delegates!
• Democracy and development, the link: Socio-
  economic development is based on extension of
  participation in democratic systems of
  government: freedom of economic and political
  activities is mutually reinforcing (ownership &
• No perfect model... No magic wand!
           Where are we today
          at Parliament House?
• ICT steering committee operational
• ICT sectoral PoA under development, 5 main axes:
  RH training, software, communication, equipment
  and material, R&D...aligning with NICI Plan
• 6 ICT related activities in the Senate 2006 PoA
  including networking, database, e-library,
  videoconference syst...
• Services digitalization plan (2000): Parliament
  equiped with 150 desk-tops, all parliamentarians
  with laptops
• Aquarius integrated Information management
  system available at LH, Optic fibre between both
  chambers, separate intranet systems
• Both houses fitted with WIFI LAN system
• 3 main weaknesses: suppliers dependency, lack of
  trained staff, call for increased capacity for
  MPs,mains shortage (generator substitute at LH)
The question: What is the role of MPs
in harnessing ICT for development?
                                            Source: IT for Parliamentarians WG2, EU, Feb.2005
         The Parliament
         National Laws     Debate and decisions
                           Internal and external dialogue
       The Government
 Rules and regulations     Support regulations
                           Impact assessment activities
            The Ministry                                        The role of
     Plans and policies    Influence policies
              Ministries   Carry out public consultations     Parliamentarians

             The Players
Activities and business    Enforce implementation
 Agencies/Departments      Play a leading role

       The Beneficiaries
        General usage      Public awareness and campaign
             End users     Role of media is paramount!
     Rules and regulations
• Parliament is instrumental in rules and
  regulations setting, which proves to be
  crucial in Rwanda ICT usage today.
• Role of MPs in shaping information society
  using ICT as a tool is to provide visions
  and leadership: Parliament is undertaking
  to play effectively this role.
• Priorities: (1)legislate laws and policies;
  (2)monitor their implementation;
  (3)represent interests of citizens in
  development; (4)work to minimise gaps in
  society/digital unite and (5)use ICT for
  development and act as a leader in this
     The answer: Leadership and
• Openness: operate with transparency, facilitate
  participation of citizens in decision-making
  processes (including budgetary undertakings and
  organizational measures)
• Leadership role: strong political will not only by
  champion, but formation of core strategic team to
  accompany implementation; commitment: support
  to strategic design and corporate culture
• Proactivity: custom made mechanisms, original,
  complete information in real-time according to
  demand defined by citizens
• Multi-channel: combination of possibilities offered
  by internet with those made possible by other
  media e.g. telephone, radio or TV
• Civic values: public institutions easying public
  exchanges by simplifying languages, procedures
  and giving maximum visibility of results
          The way to do it...
• Computer litteracy: broad base of citizens
  knowledgeable in ICT
• Reducing the gap between technological islets
  within institutions and the common citizen (social
• Resource mobilization for continued dynamic
  training and hard/software updating
• Increasing reachability (large number of users
  reached thru facilitation of processes)
• Integration (institutional) and alignment
  with NICI plans and synergy with all national ICT
• It has been proved beyond doubt that ICT
  can be an engine for development, enabler
  not the solution, however!
• Parliament has gone a long way in
  digitalizing its services but loopholes still
  exist: smooth interaction between
  Parliament and citizens still lacking, mainly
  owing to poor public communication.
• Initiatives are developed to enhance
  Parliament public visibility and added value
  may be obtained with the role of media.
• Through different channels (advocacy,
  dialogue, exchanges, control...) Parliament
  can harness ICT for development, if
  following are secured:
• Liberalization of the sector: competition cuts down costs
• Increased affordability: price regulation, flat rates for
  local calls,...
• Support for entrepreneurship: facilitation for start-ups
  to achieve legal status and other formalities
• Enhancing training and public access: a broader
  population base to be knowledgeable
• Local language content: user friendly approach
• Laws and policies: intellecual property, taxation, digital
  contracts, consumer/privacy protection, cyber crimes
• Quickly adopt a regulation system: government
  regulation, self-regulation, user control,....
• Parliament to quickly set forth dynamic citizens interaction
  and consultation mechanisms provided for in its PoA.

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