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EVALUATION INTO THE CHALLENGES OF ICT IMPLEMENTATION FOR PUBLIC SECTOR ACCOUNTABILITY IN CAMEROON

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EVALUATION INTO THE CHALLENGES OF ICT IMPLEMENTATION FOR PUBLIC SECTOR ACCOUNTABILITY IN CAMEROON

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the Study

The advent of information and communication technology (ICT) has created transformative possibilities for enhancing public sector accountability in developing countries. As Addison (1996) rightly observed lack of accountability in the public sector creates opportunities for corruption with its attendant negative consequences. For instance, through corruption the commonwealth of citizens is being diverted by a few, leaving the nation at a loss. Due to the poor culture of accountability, corruption has become a way of life for most developing; to the extent that it is trite to say that officials are not only corrupt, but corruption is official. Nduagba (2021) mentioned that the scandalous revelations of large scale corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government officials contained in nation’s  audit report  released and mor=st time it is found that  virtually all Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government bureaucracy had contravened the Public Service Rules, Financial Regulations, and Due Process procedures in spending government funds. This drops a loophole for adopting technical measures to breach the reoccurrence in developing economy.

Consequently, Fountain (2021) opined that for developing countries to better public service, accountability and transparency, this requires first a thorough rethinking and reexamination of the structure of public services and then to exploit possibilities of creating value by working across boundaries and jurisdiction to foster potential gains of redesigned services in terms of speed and cost which can be achieved through ICT integration.  Jimoh (2019) defines Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as the handling and processing of information (texts, images graphs, instruction, etc.) for use, by means of electronic and communication devices such as computers, cameras, telephones. Offodu (2021) also refer to ICT as electronic or computerized devices, assisted by human and interactive materials that can be used for wide range of teaching and learning as well as for personal use.  Olorunsola and Ekong (2021) emphasized that the importance of computers in the exchange of electronic mail (e-mail) with other users, transfer of public domain software from another computer into another disk so that anybody can run the programme on the computer and hold conference with a number of other users. Also Bhuiyan (2011) studies maintained that computerization of infrastructure in civil service impacts public sector in Bangladesh has been taking place to replace internal manual work processes by ICT-based automation.

Contextually, in Cameroon, the government has likewise prioritized ICT integration as a key strategy for advancing socioeconomic development, strengthening accountability and promoting good governance (Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, Cameroon, 2019). Initiatives such as the National ICT Strategic Plan (2018-2022) underscore the government's commitment to leveraging digital technologies to enhance public service delivery, promote e-governance, and foster innovation (Government of Cameroon, 2018). According to Ovum Cameroon had initiated several reforms in organizational and technological level. Technological reforms involve the implementation of ICT tools to support the human resource information systems for the management of the entire civil servants. The first tool, known as ANTILOPE¸ was developed for the management of the payroll. This system was launched in 1986. The second tool, known as SIGIPES, was developed for the management of civil servant careers. This second ICT project was launched in the year 2000. Regardless of the use of these two ICT tools, the government of Cameroon did not succeed in meeting its objectives related to the mastering of civil servants in terms of quantity, quality, organization and wage bill. The third attempt, aiming to solve these problems, consisted in the implementation of an integrated human resource information system based on the ERP SAP for greater efficiency and effectiveness. The attempt was launched in the year 2012. In Tandem with the 2016 strategic plan for a digital Cameroon by 2020, the National Development Strategy (NDS30) was adopted in 2020 as a new benchmark for public action that emphasizes the digitalization of administrations at the national and local levels in achieving development objectives of making Cameroon an emerging economy by 2035 (Government of Cameroon, 2020).

1.2 Statement of Problem

In recent times, the digitalization of service delivery has been successfully assimilated by most governmental institutions, which now consider ICT to be a strategic tool to efficiently support the implementation of government service delivery and economic emergence policies at both national and local government levels. This development has impelled a fury of ICT policymaking in Africa and other developing countries (Chiumbu, 2018). No doubt, by harnessing ICT interventions, the government can enhance transparency, promote good governance, and foster sustainable development. However, the effective implementation and utilization of ICT interventions are contingent upon an array of interdependent factors and conditions (Dasuki,2022). Similarly, Vishanth (2019) argues that for the logical implementation of e-government initiatives, alignment with diverse government structures, local cultures, economic conditions, technological resources, citizens' trust, and socio-political factors are necessary. Hence Shim and Eom (2018) and Kurfalı et al. (2017) advocate for ongoing evaluation of e-government processes to promote good governance, strengthen reform-oriented initiatives, enhance citizen relationships, and facilitate more efficient monitoring and evaluation processes. Kalsi et al. (2019) also suggest that effective implementation of digitalization initiatives must directly benefit citizens by enabling direct transactions with governmental services, thereby contributing to higher efficiency in public service delivery through the empowerment of civil servants with ICT tools

However, despite the efforts put in place by Cameroon government in transition to electronic (e)-processes, the effective integration of ICT within the public sector for accountability purposes remains a mirage. As pointed by Sindeu (2023), the country has faced various structural, institutional, and socio-economic barriers that impede the seamless adoption and utilization of ICT in public administration. To buttress further, Afro barometer (2021) argued that for under developed countries ICT integration for accountability is often challenged by technology resistant attitude of public servant due to benefits of corruption, limited ICT infrastructure, inadequate human capacity, regulatory constraints, and financial constraints due to poor budget. 

Although studies abound on the relevance of ICT for public sector, there is a paucity of empirical research and systematic assessments that provide insights into the current status, challenges, and opportunities regarding ICT integration in Cameroon public sector (Ndi, 2019). Moreover, existing studies often focus on specific aspects of ICT adoption or rely on anecdotal evidence, thereby limiting the comprehensiveness and generalizability of findings Against this backdrop, this study seeks to fill the existing gap in knowledge by conducting a comprehensive evaluation into the challenges of ICT implementation for public sector accountability in Cameroon.

Objectives of the Study

The aim of this study is focused on challenges of ICT implementation for public sector accountability in Cameroon. Specifically, the study seeks to conduct an assessment on ICT integration in civil service: a case of Cameroon

Examine the extent of ICT adoption into administrative processes in Cameroon Public Sector

Ascertain the impact of ICT integration on   public sector accountability and transparency in Cameroon 

Investigate the challenges of ICT implementation for public sector accountability in Cameroon.

Research Question

What is the extent of ICT adoption into administrative processes in Cameroon Public Sector?

What is the impact of ICT integration on   public sector accountability and transparency in Cameroon ?

What are the challenges of ICT implementation for public sector accountability in Cameroon.

Research Hypotheses

Ho: There are no challenges limiting ICT implementation for public sector accountability in Cameroon.

Hi: There are challenges limiting ICT implementation for public sector accountability in Cameroon.

1.6 Significance of the Study

From a practical standpoint, this study holds significant implications for policymakers, practitioners, and stakeholders involved in public sector reform and digital transformation efforts in Cameroon. By offering empirical evidence and actionable recommendations, the study equips decision-makers with valuable insights to inform policy formulation, strategic planning, and resource allocation related to ICT integration initiatives. Moreover, by identifying key challenges and opportunities, the study provides practical guidance for overcoming barriers to ICT adoption and maximizing the benefits of digitalization within the civil service. Ultimately, the findings of this study have the potential to catalyze tangible improvements in service delivery, transparency, and accountability, thereby contributing to the overarching goal of enhancing governance effectiveness and fostering sustainable development in Cameroon.

Theoretically, the study contributes to understanding of ICT integration within the civil service context, particularly in the context of developing countries like Cameroon. By drawing on theoretical frameworks from fields such as public administration, information systems, and development studies, the study aims to elucidate the dynamics and determinants of ICT adoption and utilization within bureaucratic structures. Furthermore, by exploring concepts such as digital governance, e-government maturity models, and technological determinism, the study seeks to provide theoretical insights into the factors shaping the trajectory of ICT integration and its implications for governance effectiveness and public service delivery. Through its theoretical contributions, the study enriches academic discourse on ICT-enabled governance reforms and provides a conceptual foundation for future research endeavors in this area.

Scope of the Study

The scope of the study borders challenges of ICT implementation for public sector accountability in Cameroon.. In content, the study will examine the extent of ICT adoption into administrative processes in Cameroon Public Sector, ascertain the impact of ICT integration on   public sector accountability and transparency in Cameroon and investigate the challenges of ICT implementation for public sector accountability in Cameroon. Geographically, the study will draw its respondent from Ministry of Economy, Planning and Regional Development in Yaoundé Municipal, Cameroon.

Limitations of the Study

While the study aims to provide a comprehensive analysis, certain limitations may arise, such as constraints related to data availability, access to certain regions or institutions, and the inherent challenges of measuring and assessing corruption. Firstly, limited availability of data or access to official government records may constrain the depth and breadth of the analysis. Due to the case study approach focusing on specific Civil servants in Yaoundé Municipal, the findings may lack generalizability to other regions or countries. Therefore, caution will be exercised in extrapolating the results beyond the study context. More so, the study's sample selection process may introduce bias, as certain communities or demographic groups may be overrepresented or underrepresented. This could affect the validity and representativeness of the findings. Limited time and resources may restrict the scope of the study, impacting the depth of data collected and the comprehensiveness of the analysis. This could result in overlooking certain aspects or dynamics relevant to the research questions. Despite these limitations, the researcher will acknowledge and address these challenges transparently to enhance the credibility and rigor of the study.

1.9 Definition of term

Public sector: The public sector, also called the state sector, is the part of the economy composed of both public services and public enterprises. Public sectors include the public goods and governmental services such as the military, law enforcement, infrastructure, public transit, public education, along with health care and those working for the government itself, such as elected officials

Information and Communication Technology (ICT): ICT refers to the diverse set of technologies used to manage and communicate information. It encompasses hardware, software, networks, and services that enable the processing, transmission, and storage of data.

Integration: Integration in the context of this study refers to the process of incorporating ICT into the operations, processes, and functions of the civil service. It involves the seamless incorporation of ICT tools, systems, and strategies into existing administrative structures and workflows to enhance efficiency, effectiveness, and performance.

Accountability: Public sector entities are accountable for fulfilling their duties and mandates effectively and efficiently. This includes delivering public services, implementing policies, and managing resources in accordance with legal frameworks and ethical standards.


This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research



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