Algeria Moving Towards Implementing E-Government through the E-Algeria 2013 Project

Like many developing countries, Algeria has recognized the importance of modernizing governance through digitalization and e-government initiatives. Reducing bureaucracy and facilitating access to public services online promises more efficient and accountable administration. Since the 2000s, Algeria has invested substantially in e-governance infrastructure from fiberoptics to online portals. The centerpiece is the ambitious “e-Algeria 2013” project launched in 2010 to make e-government a pillar of Algeria’s modernization.

However, realizing e-government’s potential requires surmounting considerable challenges around legacy mindsets, digital divides, and bureaucratic resistance. Despite investments, Algeria’s e-government adoption lags regional peers. Barriers include low internet penetration, lack of online payment systems, poor coordination across ministries, and limited training for civil servants on e-governance.

This paper analyzes the e-Algeria 2013 project and path forward. First, it provides background on the goals and components of the initiative. Second, it examines implementation progress and limitations. Third, it outlines lessons from international e-government best practices applicable to the Algerian context. Finally, it offers policy recommendations toward an e-government enabled public administration. With sustained leadership and targeted strategies, “e-Algeria 2013” can catalyze a new era of citizen-centered digital governance—but delivery gaps must still be addressed.

Background on E-Algeria 2013 Project Goals and Pillars

Algeria formally adopted a national e-government program in 2010 through the e-Algeria 2013 initiative. This aimed to digitalize public administration through online delivery of government services and records, integrated databases, and expanded internet infrastructure. Understanding e-Algeria 2013 requires analyzing the context and stated vision behind it.

Rationale for E-Government Focus

Algeria’s move towards e-governance responded to several public sector needs. First, modernizing stagnant bureaucracy offered potential gains in efficiency, responsiveness and transparency (1). Transitioning manual workflows online promised convenience and cost savings. E-government further provided opportunity to tackle corruption by reducing official discretion and increasing civic oversight.

Second, an e-government platform enabled provision of public services to remote regions where physical access to administrative offices is difficult (2). Algeria’s vast territory made online delivery an important channel to boost citizen engagement and access.

Third, the digital economy’s growth globally compelled Algeria to adapt. As internet usage rose, citizens demanded public sector digitalization on par with private sector tech innovation (3). E-government became an imperative to keep pace both economically and administratively.

Finally, given Algeria’s youthful demographics, technology served as a conduit to better meet needs of the burgeoning youth generation. Young Algerians grew up with digital fluency and favored tech-enabled governance.

National Vision and Institutional Framework

To realize e-governance, the Algerian government emphasized integrating internet applications across ministerial activities to forge an interconnected public administration (4). The Ministry of Post, Information Technology and Communications (MPTIC) provided central coordination.

The e-Algeria 2013 plan aimed for wide availability of citizen-facing digital services by 2013 through public-private partnerships and civil society engagement. This included ambitious targets like establishing universal high-speed internet access and computer literacy by 2013. The vision embraced public sector modernization and Algeria’s integration into the global digital economy (5).

Legislatively, Law No. 15-04 on e-government enacted in 2004 established the overall framework. It mandated public bodies digitalize operations, created accountability structures, and required websites offering essential public information (6). Combined with telecoms liberalization,foundations were set for e-Algeria 2013’s rollout.

Four Pillars of E-Algeria 2013

Operationally, “e-Algeria 2013” encompassed four key programs targeting infrastructure, training, services and interoperability:

1) Expanding Connectivity – Building out internet networks and fiberoptics nationwide including rural access.

2) Promoting Computer Literacy – Skills development and public awareness campaigns around digital literacy and e-government functionality.

3) Online Public Services – Developing portals for citizens to access essential public services through integrated government databases.

4) Institutional Integration – Creating interconnected systems across ministries and bodies to allow information sharing and seamless e-governance.

This multi-pronged structure sought to nurture both supply of and demand for e-services. Before analyzing the outcomes, Algeria’s vision reflected aspirations to leverage digitalization for public sector excellence and inclusive development.

Assessing Progress and Limitations of E-Algeria 2013 Rollout

Algeria invested extensive resources into e-Algeria 2013 through public spending and private outsourcing of technology projects. How did outcomes align with the four key pillars? Progress occurred on infrastructure and online portals but training and institutional coordination lagged. Several factors obstructed the program from fully delivering intended e-government adoption.

Status of Infrastructure and Connectivity

On establishing wider connectivity, Algeria made significant strides. As of 2011, 96% of the population lived in areas with broadband network coverage (7). Fiberoptics expanded to connect 48 provincial capitals by 2013, with plans to reach all municipalities (8). Teledensity reached over 100% indicating access even in poorer regions.

However, only about 30% of Algerians use the internet given affordability barriers. Prices remain high for average households with 4G mobile broadband costing nearly 5% of per capita income, limiting mass connectivity (9). And speeds lag global averages. Rural penetration also trails urban zones. Thus, despite infrastructure growth, usage barriers persist.

Availability of Online Public Services

In terms of online services availability, the number of portals and sites mushroomed from 43 government domains in 2008 to over 1,000 by 2014 (10). Portals included customs processes, passport services, driving records, real estate registration, education databases and tax filing. Usage of sites offering student grants, passport renewals and business registers rose steadily.

However, most sites simply provide information rather than full e-services for transactions. Only around 10% of available public services can be executed fully online, with the rest requiring in-person processes like document submission (11). Algeria also lacks integrated government databases for easy information sharing. Citizens still make frequent bureaucratic visits indicating low e-government displacement of traditional channels.

Shortcomings in Digital Skills Training

Regarding digital literacy initiatives, the Education Ministry indeed incorporated ICT into school curricula, helping develop youth skills (12). Around 13 universities established dedicated faculties for ICT training. In 2013 alone 150,000 citizens received government funded ICT education including women and vulnerable groups.

Yet only 38% of the population reports basic or above basic digital skills (13). Reaching older demographics remains difficult. Lack of computer ownership also impedes skills uptake for average Algerians. More intensive digital literacy initiatives are imperative even for accessing existing e-services. The training pillar exhibits gaps in reach outside cities and the youth segment.

Weaknesses in Institutional Coordination

Finally, on the goal of interconnected government, the record is mixed. The MPTIC established a dedicated Institutional Integration Department to develop frameworks aligning systems across ministries. Some databases were made jointly accessible like company registers. However, ministerial siloes remain strong given reluctance to share control over information.

A 2020 UN study found only 36% of government entities were linked through the e-government network (14). Individual agencies digitize in isolation thwarting integration. Weak horizontal coordination and data sharing persists within Algeria’s sprawling bureaucracy. This illustrates cultural obstacles to technological connectivity.

Assessing Obstacles to E-Algeria 2013 Success

While Algeria’s e-government efforts represent commendable progress on infrastructure and online presence, the e-Algeria 2013 project fell short ofTargets in usage, skills development and institutional coordination. Both technical and administrative hurdles explain implementation shortfalls.

Financial and Technological Limitations

First, some obstacles were unavoidable given the sheer investment required in limited timeframes. The global economic downturn after 2008 squeezed ICT budgets through declining oil revenues (15). Cybersecurity costs also grew with systems expansion. Such unforeseen strains hampered delivering e-Algeria commitments in full despite sizable appropriations. Maintaining technology infrastructure remains expensive over the long-term.

Public Sector Cultural Resistance

Second, bureaucratic inertia and unwillingness to change accounting, monitoring and oversight procedures to digital formats slowed adoption. Despite directives, administrators resisted abandoning familiar paper-based systems (16). Daily habits shaped by legacy protocols persisted, like requirements for physical signatures and stamps. Algeria’s public sector culture exhibits rigidity.

Weak Private Sector IT Consultancy Role

Third, Algeria’s underdeveloped private sector IT ecosystem constrained service delivery. Most e-government contracts went to foreign firms. But their solutions often overlooked contextual realities. Domestic consultants were few and lacked specialized expertise to tailor systems. This created mismatches and coordination issues during rollout. Building the local IT industry remains a priority.

Low Internet Penetration and Digital Literacy

Fourth, takeup lagged among citizens given limited connectivity and skills. Unaffordable access prices coupled with inadequate digital literacy programs impeded usage scale up. Especially older Algerians found the learning curve to utilize e-services challenging without sufficient support. Broader community readiness programs are imperative.

Coordination Struggles Across Massive Bureaucracy

Finally, siloed mentalities between Algeria’s sprawling public organizations hindered integrated e-governance. Responsibility fragmentation reduced incentives for information sharing and joint digital protocols across the architecture. Improving technological linkages requires surmounting administrative fragmentation by fostering shared standards, oversight and incentives.

Lessons from International E-Government Best Practices

While the obstacles Algeria faced are not unique, global experiences provide instructive best practices on overcoming common e-government implementation hurdles. Studying cases of successful adoption offers models to consider. Relevant lessons with applicability to Algeria’s path forward include the following areas.

Citizen-Centric Design Thinking

Too often, technology projects get overly focused on technical specifications rather than user-centric design. Taking a human-centered approach to e-service portals can boost adoption. Studying citizen interactions, building user-friendly interfaces, and incorporating feedback mechanisms improves outcomes. Platforms should adapt to evolving usage patterns. Korea’s e-government design process provides a useful example for Algeria (17).

Integrating Online and Offline Channels

Since 100% migration online is difficult, maintaining select bricks-and-mortar facilities alongside digital access assists inclusivity. Blending physical and virtual helps serve all demographics during transition periods. India retained public internet kiosks even while expanding e-services. Such hybrid approaches prevent excluding segments like the elderly.

Cybersecurity and Data Protection

With massive data generation, adequate safeguards against breaches like hacking grow critical to gain user trust. Robust cybersecurity protocols and legislation protecting privacy should feature in e-governance frameworks. Models like the EU’s strong General Data Protection Regulation offer guidance for data protection standards.

Interagency Collaboration Structures

Coordinating horizontally across government is enhanced through bodies with mandate to develop joint standards and metrics. Dedicated project management offices (PMOs) and centralized steering committees allow harmonizing efforts. Singapore’s e-government PMO exemplifies effective collaborative structuresbenefitlng Algeria.

Public-Private Partnership Models

ICT infrastructure and e-service delivery can be strengthened through public-private partnerships bringing specialized expertise. While retaining public oversight, partnerships expand capacity and innovation. India’s extensive IT outsourcing keeps costs low. Identifying win-win engagement models between Algerian government and tech companies is advantageous.

Gradualist, Iterative Rollouts

Big bang approaches often falter. Prioritizing a few high-demand services early on and then gradually expanding based on monitoring allows refinement. Taking an agile, iterative approach adjusts rollouts to ground realities. Startup digital culture focusing on rapid testing informs e-government evolution.

These global cases highlight principles Algeria can assimilate contextually in areas from user-centricity to partnerships. Adopting best practices while customizing them to local needs offers useful models as e-Algeria plans future phases.

Policy Recommendations to Advance Algeria’s E-Government Agenda

Building on progress made and lessons from peer countries, Algeria is well positioned to renew momentum on e-government. But realization requires strategic interventions to improve results. Targeted recommendations include:

  • National Digital Literacy Campaign – Launch comprehensive public literacy programs via schools, vocational centers, universities and media to boost e-government usage skills. Digital upskilling is imperative.
  • Customer Experience Redesign – Conduct user research on interactions with portals and processes to uncover pain points, and redesign interfaces simplifying citizen experiences through behavioral insights.
  • Public-Private Partnership Office – Create dedicated PPP units to forge partnerships with domestic and international tech companies that can support innovation and fill capacity gaps in e-governance.
  • Cybersecurity Enhancement – Upgrade cybersecurity standards and monitoring capabilities to safeguard critical government databases and infrastructure through steps like mandatory reporting of breaches.
  • Interagency E-Governance Working Group – Constitute a senior cross-departmental working group to better coordinate e-government programs, data sharing protocols and policy priorities across ministries. Break down siloes.
  • Incentives for Administrators – Provide financial and professional incentives for administrators undertaking training in e-governance systems and meeting digitalization targets to motivate ground-level bureaucratic change.
  • Rural Access Expansion – Develop subsidized programs to spur computer and internet penetration in rural municipalities through partnerships with telecoms, businesses and non-profits focused on accessibility.
  • E-Government Innovation Fund – Finance a fund supporting startups and entrepreneurs developing homegrown solutions tailored to improving Algeria’s public sector service delivery through technology.
  • High-Level Advisory Council – Create a non-partisan advisory council of civil society leaders, technical experts and youth representatives to guide strategic e-government initiatives and monitor implementation.

Conclusion

Modernizing governance through the e-Algeria 2013 project and associated e-government initiatives represents a pivotal pillar in Algeria’s reform and development agenda. The expansion of digital infrastructure and online public services to date marks commendable progress. However, fulfilling the transformational potential of e-governance requires redoubling efforts to improve integration, training, accessibility and user experiences.

By pursuing deliberate upgrades like bolstering cybersecurity, fostering interagency coordination and driving digital literacy, Algeria can overcome existing obstacles impeding effective e-government. Learning from global best practices while customizing to local context is key. With visionary leadership and multiparty cooperation, a digitally powered public administration lies within reach to reorient the state around citizens and harness technology for the public good. The e-Algeria project manufactured success but needs rebooted momentum. A vibrant e-governance ecosystem promises to enhance economic dynamism and trust between Algerian society and institutions. Converting digital investments into tangible returns remains a key pending task.

References:

1) Mahmood, Rosli et al. “E-Government Implementation in Algeria: Telecentre Support.” Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy, vol. 7, no. 4, 2013, pp. 425-440.

2) Ifinedo, Princely and Uwadia, Charles O. “Constraints to E-Government Implementation and Utilization in the Developing World: The Nigerian Experience.” Journal of Global Information Technology Management, vol. 8, no. 4, 2005, pp. 31-54.

3) Chatfield, Akemi Takeoka and AlAnazi, Jaber. “Collaboration through Capacity Building: Sheik Khalifa Government Excellence Program in the Middle East.” In Connecting Democracy: Online Consultation and the Flow of Political Communication, edited by Davies, Todd and Gangadharan, Seeta Peña. MIT Press, 2009.

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6) Dris, Charef Rekik and Gasmi, Foued. “The Internet and Freedom of Expression in Algeria: Assessing Legal Restrictions and Government Policing of Online Speech.” Al Jazeera Centre for Studies Report, 2016, pp. 1-6.

7) Muente-Kunigami, Arturo and Navas-Sabater, Juan. Options to Increase Access to Telecommunications Services in Rural and Low-Income Areas. World Bank Working Paper No. 178, Washington, DC, 2010.

8) Boudjada, Nabil and Senouci, Khelifa. “New Vision for Algeria’s Broadband Infrastructure: Prospects and Challenges.” 15th International Conference on Computer Systems and Applications, 2018, pp. 1-6, doi: 10.1109/AICCSA.2018.8612767.

9) Gelvanovska, Natalija et al. Broadband Networks in the Middle East and North Africa. World Bank Report No. 93519, Washington, DC, 2014.

10) Mahieddine, Ali. “E-Government Services Initiatives in Algeria.” Developing Country Studies, vol. 5, no. 2, 2015, pp. 87-92.

11) Success of E-Government Services Delivery Is Dependent on Public Servants’ Satisfaction and Training. IDAL – In Depth Analysis Ltd., 2013.

12) Laabidi, Mohammed and Dahmani, Salah. “Educational Policy and the Future of E-Learning in Algeria: The Essential Role of Teacher Training.” Journal of Learning for Development, vol. 7, no. 1, 2020, pp. 59-71.

13) International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Statistics, Algeria Profile, 2022. https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Statistics/Pages/stat/default.aspx

14) Project Office for E-Government and Institutional Integration (DGEPSI). E-Government Survey 2020: Synthesis Report. Algiers.

15) Belaid, Fatima and Zekri, Ines. “ICT Infrastructure and diffusion in Algeria.” Journal of Innovation Economics Management, no. 18, 2015, pp. 169-187, doi: 10.3917/jie.018.0169.

16) Ranja, Belkacem and Zahi, Bouraya. “Obstacles for Achieving E-Government in Algeria.” Journal of Economics and Engineering, vol. 4, no 1, 2013, pp. 12-19.

17) Lee, Jungwoo. “Future of E-Government from a User Experience Perspective.” OECD E-Leaders Conference on E-Government, Brussels, 2010.

SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a bachelor's degree in political science and international relations as well as a Master's degree in international security studies, alongside a passion for web development. During my studies, I gained a strong understanding of key political concepts, theories in international relations, security and strategic studies, as well as the tools and research methods used in these fields.

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