UNESCO implements information ethics and e-government initiative in Africa
UNESCO, in cooperation with the International Centre for Information Ethics and the Government of South Africa, organized an Information Ethics and e-Government High Level Executive Seminar followed by a training workshop. The two events were held in the framework of UNESCO's Information for All Programme (IFAP) in Pretoria, South Africa, from 23 to 26 February 2009.
This initiative is a direct response to the outcomes of the African Information Ethics Conference that took place in Tshwane, South Africa, in February 2007. It is also part of the implementation of the World Summit on the Information Society decisions, where information ethics are identified as a critical component in building a people-centred, development-focused and inclusive information society.
The training workshop was attended by about 50 participants from 13 African countries: Botswana, Burundi, Chad, Eritrea, Ghana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Senegal, Republic of South Africa, Swaziland, Union of the Comoros and Zambia. It was designed by a team of leading international academic institutions with expertise in the field of information ethics, including:
- the International Centre for Information Ethics based at the Stuttgart Media University in Germany,
- the School of Information Studies (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA) and
- the faculty of Information Science (University of Pretoria, South Africa),
as well as by leading practitioners in the field of e-government.
This e-government and information ethics initiative in Africa aims to significantly improve the quantity and quality of government services provided to the public, businesses and the civil society over those provided by traditional methods. This objective could be reached through simplifying, streamlining and speeding up the processes of applying for and securing entitlement. It is also important to ensure that the benefits and services required are delivered on time, accurately and completely, without compromising legal and ethical norms such as openness and fairness in bidding policies and procedures.
Another objective of this initiative is to incorporate greater transparency into the provision of government products and services to the public and businesses. It requires making information on the availability of those services more complete and pro-actively accessible to both the media and the public. Therefore, all elements of the society will be better informed and educated about what is being offered precisely; when and how to obtain those services; and how to ensure that promised services are, in fact, delivered.
Information ethics is one of the five priorities of the Information for All Programme of UNESCO.