Morocco's e-government programme is only in its first year but it still has a long way to go.
Just 31% of government departments are computerised, according to a government study released December 16th. There is only one computer for every three civil servants. Internet connectivity is no more than 60%.
"Administrative departments provide 208 electronic services, 47% of which are available in Arabic. The number of civil servants working in this area represents only 1.19% of the total. On average, they receive three days of training. Further efforts need to be made on this issue. There is more work to do to meet the challenge," said Public Sector Modernisation Minister Mohamed Saâd Alami.
The technology transformation plan was intended as a tool to simplify public services and provide sustainable development. The programme has a budget of 2.2 billion dirhams (nearly 200 million euros) and aims to get 89 services online by 2013.
The government has made progress towards the goal, including the introduction of biometric passports, online payments for local taxes and customs services for businesses, online follow-up for sickness payments by National Social Security Fund (CNSS), and pension-related services. 52,000 certificates have been issued and 345,000 claims processed online by the Moroccan pension service.
The DAMANCOM system set up by CNSS allows 24,500 companies to make payments online while also allowing them to manage the contributions of 1,098,000 employees.
"2011 will be a special year for Morocco, because towards the end of next year, we're planning to see 15 basic administrative services go live, particularly to do with business start-ups, and the computerisation of import-export procedures and birth certificates," said Trade Minister Ahmed Reda Chami.
Mohamed, a civil servant who preferred to not be identified, told Magharebia that there are many employees who do not have the computers they need to do their work, despite insistent demands from those concerned.
"They keep going on about the lack of funding. Added to which, most civil servants will need training before they can use the IT equipment," he said.
Economist Mohamed Jouadri said that the challenges of bringing IT into the public services are considerable but worth tackling, as it will bring government closer to the people it governs, be they private citizens or businesses. He said there is a lot of ground to be made up, because the idea is to simplify procedures and speed up administration.
"The e-government programme objectives need to be achieved within the deadlines set, so that public administrative bodies can be more responsive to users. By providing more information, they can encourage a culture of transparency and efficiency," Jouadri said.