We review the 2014 results of the UN’s assessment of the development of e-Government across the Caribbean.
Recently, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) published the results of its e-Government Survey 2014. All 193 United Nations member countries were included in the exercise, which was last conducted in 2012, and which we also discussed in an earlier post.
Here, we review the findings of the 2014 survey with respect to the following 16 Caribbean countries: Antigua & Barbuda; Bahamas Barbados; Belize; Cuba; Dominica; Dominican Republic; Grenada; Guyana; Haiti; Jamaica; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Suriname; and Trinidad and Tobago.
Determining the EGDI
The United Nations e-Government Development Index (EGDI) measures the willingness and capacity of governments to use ICTs to deliver public services by assessing national websites and how e-government policies and strategies are applied in general and in specific sectors for delivery of essential services. The EGDI consists of three indices as outlined in Table 1.
The scope and quality of online services; the development status of telecommunication infrastructure; and the inherent human capital, represent what experts consider are the most important dimensions of e-government. The scores for each of those indices are valued between 0 and 1, and the weighted average of the three is used to arrive at the EGDI for each of the 193 countries examined.
How did Caribbean countries perform in the 2014 EGDI assessment?
Overall, the performance of Caribbean countries declined relative to the 2012 results, as reflected in Figure 1, the only exception is Haiti. Within the Caribbean grouping, Barbados is the highest-ranked country at 59, with an EGDI of 0.5933, but it is a drop of 15 places from 44th out of 193, and an EDGI of 0.6566 in 2012. Barbados is followed closely by Antigua and Barbuda at 60, with an EGDI of 0.5927, but this position is a drop of 11 places, from 49th out of 193, and an EGDI of 0.6566 from 2012.
Unlike 2012, no Caribbean/CARICOM country is ranked within the top 50, but six countries made the top 100 of the ranking, as shown in Table 2.
Figure 2 shows the scores Caribbean countries received for each of the sub-indices that comprise the EGDI.
For the Online Services Index, Antigua and Barbuda scored the highest with 0.4173, and was followed by the Bahamas (0.3866) and the Dominican Republic (0.3858). Haiti scored the lowest with 0.1102.
For the Telecommunications Infrastructure Index within the group under review, Barbados scored the highest with 0.6730, whilst again, Haiti received the lowest score, 0.0952. Barbados was followed by Antigua and Barbuda (0.5938) and Saint Kitts and Nevis (0.6321).
With regard to the Human Capital Index, Cuba received the received the highest score for this index within the Caribbean grouping, 0.8497. Barbados and Grenada go the second and third highest scores, respectively. Haiti received the lowest score in the group, 0.3372.
What do these results suggest about e-Government in the region?
As indicated in the previous section, Caribbean countries got lower scores and slipped in the ranking in the 2014 exercise. Table 3 shows the results of the 2012 and 2014 assessments. Essentially, the efforts Caribbean countries made between 2012 and 2014 was not significant enough to improve their scoring, relative to what other countries had accomplished in the same period.
In virtually all of the Caribbean countries reviewed, the Human Capital Index, which again evaluates literacy and schooling, is relatively high. The scores received for Telecommunications Infrastructure Index are also, relatively speaking, good. However, most countries received their lowest scores for the Online services Index, which measures the scope and quality of the services offered (Table 4).
The Online Services Index comprises the following four stages of online services development:
- Stage 1, “emerging information services”, where websites provide information on public policy, governance, laws, regulations, relevant documentation and types of government services provided.
- Stage 2, “enhanced information services”, would include downloadable forms for government services and applications, plus a number of other features, such as audio, video and multilingual capabilities, as appropriate
- Stage 3, consists of “transactional services”, where websites engage in two-way transactions with users. At this stage, the websites should be able to support both financial and non-financial transactions
- Stage 4, where the Government websites should be demonstrating “connected services”, which would have changed how they interact with its citizens (Source: UN DESA).