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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Web 2.0 amplifies citizens’ voice to govt – Prof. Afolabi

Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Prof. Oladapo Afolabi, has identified Web 2.0 as an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tool that amplifies the voice of the people to their government.

Prof. Afolabi made this observation in a keynote address at the public presentation of broadband access partnership between Galaxy Backbone Plc and MainOne Cable Company, which held in Abuja at the weekend.

Free Online encyclopedia, wikipedia.org, has described the term Web 2.0 as commonly associated with web applications that facilitate interactive systemic biases, interoperability, user-centered design and development of the World Wide Web (www).

In other words, a Web 2.0 site allows users to interact and collaborate with each other in a social media dialogue as consumers of user-generated content in a virtual community, in contrast to websites where users (prosumers) are limited to the active viewing of content that they created and controlled.

These includes social networking sites, blogs, wikis, video sharing sites, hosted services, web applications, mashups and folksonomies to name a few.

Stressing the importance of Web 2.0, Afolabi said that the effect for government is that it has increased people’s expectations as both citizens and public servants could now contribute and participate in an interactive dialogue as opposed to passively consuming digital media.

“They can share information and collaborate across organizational boundaries,” he said.

The heads service noted that recent evolution has seen the creation and emergence of Face book users’ number about 29,000 to protest at the 2am over the lockout on bars in Melbourne CBD and followers of President Goodluck Jonathan urging him to reverse his ban on Nigerian football soon after the 2010 FIFA World Cup, where the Super Eagles performed abysmally.

He pointed out that currently in the country, President Jonathan’s Face book platform has become a centre of gravity for national issues yearning for discussion.

“And citizens can have direct access to him (Jonathan) and the executive arm of government,” he said, underscoring the fact that the Face book forum has provided
access to the president to over 350,000 followers.

“The new social networking platforms provide powerful new ways for individuals to aggregate their points of view and amplify their voices to the government,” he declared.

According to him, connected government is now the dominant theme in electronic government (e-government), citing an instance of a recent United Nations e-Government survey.

Prof. Afolabi pointed out that connected government emphasises the benefits of seeking to ‘make the whole more than the sum of the parts’ by creating connected governance mechanisms aimed at orchestrating hitherto known as disjointed e-government themes.

He was quick to add that connected government is not, a universal trend nor an inevitable ‘one size fits all’ destination for all jurisdictions in the manner of the earlier government online programmes.

“Connected government deals with a more subtle and difficult set of leadership issues relating to infrastructure platforms, information sharing, coordination and collaboration,” Afolabi said.

He outlined six foundational pillars of connected government to include citizen centricity, standardized common infrastructure, back-office reorganization, governance, new organizational model and social inclusion.

Commending the partnership, Afolabi noted that as government begins to put services online and citizens begin to expect services online, the demands for bandwidth capacity, support and technical efficiency on the partnership will increase tremendously.

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