E-Government: Usability of Government Ministry Websites in Zambia

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Chewe, Pailet
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This study evaluated the ministerial websites in Zambia to investigate their role as information communication channels. The study used the survey research strategy. The goal was to establish usability of government ministry websites with a view of providing recommendations for improvement. The present study selected West’s (2005) stages of e-government model as the basis of the theoretical framework. This model is described as “Stages of e-Government: From billboards and service delivery to interactive democracy”. According to this model, there are four general stages of e-government development that distinguish where government agencies are on the road to transformation: These are the billboard stage, the partial service-delivery stage, the portal stage with fully executable and integrated service delivery, and interactive democracy.The population of the study was government ministries which made 16 units of analysis. The techniques for data collection were an interview schedule, an administered questionnaire and a website evaluation form. The data was then analyzed using SPSS version 11.0 for Windows for statistical processing. Data sets from the interview schedule and the open-ended questions from the questionnaire were analysed by content analysis. The research established that the country has developed an appropriate ICT policy. This policy promises a favorable climate that would enhance the development and implementation of e-government in Zambia. The research further revealed that the country has already embarked on a number of e-government initiatives.These initiatives include information services (government organization and structures, directory information, access to information, and policy documents and reports). Information services are normally the first category of e-government components. The process began with the establishment of a government websites to which different categories of government information are posted. The overall research findings showed that web features that are critical in fostering government openness and citizen participation and satisfaction were still infrequent or completely absent in the ministerial websites. Zambia’s e-government index stands at 0.3454, bringing the country to position 125 when rated against countries of the world in terms of e-government development and implementation. This state of affairs means the country’s e-government is still at the infancy stage of development in terms of West’s (2005) model of e-government. The study concludes that government websites are partially effective and did not optimally fulfill their purpose as information communication channels. Evaluation results provide the Zambian Government with a clear picture of what needs to be improved according to international website design standards. The study suggests that the government needs to cultivate standards for its Web site design exploit the benefits offered by information and communication technologies to promote good governance through electronic government. The government should also continuously evolve the site design techniques to meet citizens' expectations.
e-government , Government websites , Website usability , Website evaluation, Zambia