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Digital divide within society: an account of poverty, community and e-governance in Fiji

Rahman, Mohammad H. and Naz, Rafia (2006) Digital divide within society: an account of poverty, community and e-governance in Fiji. E-Learning: Special Issue, on Models for Bridging Digital Divide, Symposium Journals, 3 (3). pp. 325-343. ISSN 2042-7530

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The importance and potential of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to develop economies has been demonstrated through various studies around the globe. For the Pacific, especially Fiji, where development is hampered by dispersed populations, small sizes and vast ocean distances, ICT can help overcome these restrictive circumstances, of digital divide within society, by empowering the poor. An attempt is made to illustrate that, despite various initiatives and strategies designed by the governments in power, poverty in Fiji is still daunting and has in fact increased by almost 33% over the last 10 years. Therefore, it becomes prudent to look at government policies and e-governance initiatives in Fiji and analyze the reasons as to why results are not being achieved at the grass-roots level. Based on findings from a rapid appraisal among various stakeholders, the article highlights that e-governance initiative thus far could not be largely effective due to lack of participatory processes in e-governance and ICT practices. Community perception of e-governance and understanding of the issue are explored and it is argued that public awareness of e-governance is critical for projects to work. Along with this, some critical constraints facing e-governance in Fiji, with an emphasis on the role of community involvement to reduce poverty at the grass-roots level, are discussed. Solutions of citizen-centered e-governance are stressed and a down-to-earth approach to poverty is highlighted. This article asks for paradigm shifts in government’s perception to see society as partners of governance and not merely recipients of state policies and service delivery systems. It raises the issue of community involvement in dialogue and decision making at the public policy and practice levels by making government departments reachable to stakeholders by harnessing the potential of ICT, new technologies and media. It also talks about the need to bridge information-data gaps and lapses which lead to inappropriate planning and decision making divorced from sharable scientific statistical data amongst the government departments and planning agencies. It emphasizes shared visions for strategies both at horizontal and vertical levels of planning and management in e-governance.

Item Type: Journal Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Divisions: Faculty of Business and Economics (FBE) > School of Management and Public Administration
Depositing User: Ms Neha Harakh
Date Deposited: 17 Mar 2006 02:35
Last Modified: 14 May 2012 04:32

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