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Updated: June 4, 2011 20:16 IST

Governance services for the neighbourhood

D. Murali
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A kebele (Amharic for ‘neighbourhood’) is the smallest administrative unit of Ethiopia similar to ward, a neighbourhood or a localised and delimited group of people, informs Wikipedia. “It is part of a woreda, or district, itself usually part of a Zone, which in turn is grouped into one of the Regions based on ethno-linguistic communities (or kililoch) that comprise the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Each kebele consists of at least five hundred families, or the equivalent of 3,500 to 4,000 persons.”

You can read about the Kebele Life-Event Services System (KLESS) in one of the essays included in ‘Local Governance and ICTs in Africa: Case studies and guidelines for implementation and evaluation,’ edited by Timothy Mwololo Waema and Edith Ofwona Adera (www.idrc.ca). Kebele – described by the Addis Ababa city government’s charter as ‘a centre for development and direct popular participation as well as a location for the delivery of basic services’ – provides development services such as for the small industries and education, and also life-event services such as birth and marriage registration.

“The services provided by the kebeles include: issuing identity cards to kebele residents; registering kebele house-seekers; supplying documentation verifying eligibility for free health treatment; … and communicating with utility agencies regarding maintenance and other services that are essential for government and kebele houses.” Ethiopia’s ICT policy, as the authors note, aims to create a knowledge-based society, and promote ICT use in all sectors of the economy to nurture democratic values, good governance, transparency, and accountability.

The book is a veritable treat for those looking for stories about e-governance, similar to the Ethiopian experience. Among the examples discussed are the automation of civil registration in Morocco, the e-local governance roadmap in Kenya, a training course for non-IT decision-makers in South Africa, the e-national project in Mauritius, and the adoption of business process mapping methodology in Egypt.

A final finding of the research documented in the book is on the importance of a sustained e-local governance leadership throughout the life of the project. For instance, in Kenya, “the success of rolling out the Integrated Financial Management Information System was partly attributed to the sustained leadership provided by the local government reform programme in the Ministry of Local Government and consistent leadership from the accounts departments of the two municipal councils studied.”

Useful study for those in the governance domain.

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Tailpiece

“Whenever the system becomes slow…”

“You know that it is getting overloaded?”

“No, it means negotiations are on!”

**

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