SAJIC Issue 4, 2003

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    Towards a Framework for Assessing the Maturity of Government Capabilities for 'E-Government'
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2003-12-15) Oyomno, Gordon Z.
    The new reality of the 21st Century is characterised by increasing centrality of information and knowledge and pervasive application of new information and communication technologies (ICTs). The unavoidability of the new applications on the one hand, and their considerable complexity and costliness on the other, compel organisations to seek better understanding of these applications to guide their successful development and implementation. The ability to accurately establish and articulate needs and prioritise them on the basis of their potential benefits and challenges, within a framework of institutional capabilities, is an important dimension of this understanding. This is where assessment comes in. This paper proposes a framework for assessing the maturity of government capabilities for “e-government.” It first traces the conceptual development of e-government, noting a successive broadening of the conceptual scope and a shift in focus from technology to government. It reviews pertinent literature on “e-readiness” assessment and “capability maturity” assessments, noting their strengths and limitations in a government institutional environment. It proposes an e-government capability maturity assessment framework based on six capability factors (development and business agenda, ICT application portfolio, ICT infrastructure development, human and intellectual capital, governance and institutional infrastructure, and leadership and management), six levels of maturity (business as usual, online information services, on-line interactivity, on-line transactional services, service integration, and organisational transformation), and a mapping function that traces the logistic trajectory of resulting growth curves.
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    Technological Learning and Capability-Building: How do African Telecommunication Firms Learn?
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2003-12-15) Marcelle, Gillian
    This paper presents the results of a larger study that focusses on technological learning in developing country firms, using empirical data from 26 telecommunication firms in Uganda, Ghana, Tanzania and South Africa. The paper adds to knowledge by providing a cross-disciplinary study of how African firms undertake technological learning and capability-building. The conceptual framework used in the paper, the TCB system approach, suggests that the underdevelopment of the strategic and systematic management of technological learning capability development is a major constraint for developing country firms and cannot be explained by country-level factors only. It therefore suggests that a simultaneous focus on internal factors that contribute to effectiveness, and on boundary conditions, is necessary. This paper focuses on the internal, intrafirm dimension and provides insights on how features such as ability to manage cultural change, leadership and organisational integration influence and explain variation in the ability of telecom firms to build capabilities. These insights have implications for firm strategy and policy and offer avenues for future research.
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    ICT Development in Botswana: Connectivity for Rural Communities
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2003-12-15) Sebusang, S.E.M.; Masupe, S.
    The paper motivates for the need for rural communities in Botswana to gain access to information and communication technologies (ICTs). It generally acknowledges the excellent telecommunications infrastructure in the country, and the stated policy of the government and the Botswana Telecommunications Authority (BTA) to provide universal access to ICTs. The paper then explores why the policy and the infrastructural endowments have not combined to make Botswana an “information society” according to the timeframe envisaged in the national vision document, Vision 2016. Citing the phenomenal growth of the mobile phone in the Botswana telecommunications market, the paper proposes that a nascent information society could be upon Botswana, if only the mobile cellular platform and Internet connectivity could be fully harnessed to give people a foothold into the vast ICT field. The paper outlines the technological, institutional and policy issues that need to be tackled to ensure that Botswana’s rural communities get the benefits of new ICTs, with particular emphasis on the need for integrated public access centres and a new legal framework guaranteeing access to information.
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    Preparing South Africa for Information Society 'E-Services': The Significance of the VANS Sector
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2003-12-15) Melody, William H.; Currie, Willie; Kane, Sean
    New Value-Added Network Services (VANS) provide the foundation for the wide variety of applications (e-commerce, e-government, e-education, etc.,) that will make-up the e-economy in new information societies. Internet services are only a part of the VANS sector. The development of VANS is influenced primarily by three factors – technological improvements, government policies/ regulations, and the market structure of the VANS sector. South Africa has announced clear information society policies, but has not yet implemented them. Although the national fixed telecom network has experienced declining coverage in recent years, for those connected, the network is fully digitalised and makes increasing use of Internet Protocol. Technologically, South Africa is well prepared to be a leader in VANS development. However, its policy and regulation arena has been a site of continuous conflict and indecision, which has resulted in VANS development being restricted rather than promoted by government policy. Telkom’s aggressive activity in attempting to maximise its service exclusivities has restricted VANS development even further. Telkom’s exclusivity period under the government’s “managed liberalisation” policy ended 7 May 2002. If South Africa is to see its information society and e-economy policies implemented, it will have to establish, and implement through strong regulation, a commitment to promoting an innovative VANS sector. The forthcoming convergence legislation provides an opportunity to do so.
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    Spectrum Management Reform and the Notion of the 'Spectrum Commons'
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2003-12-15) Hatfield, Dale N.
    Spectrum management is an extremely important part of telecommunications policy and regulation. The allocation of spectrum for particular uses, and development of specific technical and service rules governing those allocations, are crucial determinants of telecommunications industry structure and performance. Not only does the management of the resource have an enormous impact on a nation’s economic and social well-being, it is also of critical importance to the safety of life and property, and to national defense. Fast-growing demand, coupled with rapid technological change, have put increased pressure on the traditional, centralised, often bureaucratic, “command-and-control” methods of managing the resource. One alternative to the traditional, centralised method is moving spectrum management in the direction of a marketoriented solution, wherein property-like rights in the resource are traded on a decentralised basis, more like other resources. Another method for reducing the rigidities in the current system is for policy-makers to move spectrum management in the direction of a “spectrum commons” solution. Under this alternative, anyone can gain access to a particular block of spectrum or set of channels, subject only to certain basic rules. Recently, there has been increased interest in the spectrum commons approach, because of the success of unlicensed spectrum in providing consumer benefits and increased opportunities for entrepreneurial activity. This paper explores the spectrum commons approach and concludes that, even in the face of significant challenges, the potential benefits are significant enough to warrant serious consideration by telecommunications policy-makers in their role as spectrum managers. This conclusion applies not only to developed countries but also to developing countries, where the more decentralised, less bureaucratic approach could empower individuals and communities to expand networks, applications and services on their own initiative.