Information Technology (IT) provides business value and brings reforms in public services by improving operational efficiencies and developing transparent and accountable Information Systems. The purpose of this report is to analyze the existing IT sector in Afghanistan, its achievements and shortcomings, and provide suggestions to improve the existing infrastructure and services.
IT is not only a business enabler but also an efficient tool for bringing reforms in public services. The benefits of digitization of public services have been grasped in a number of developed and developing countries and some have developed their national economies based on their IT services and products. These countries have developed strategies for e-development including e-government, e-business and e-society. The need for a similar vision and strategy can be realized for Afghanistan as well. The current ongoing projects such as NDC, Cybersecurity, .AF registry, internet service provision etc. led by Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) however, face limitations. These limitations are primarily due to reasons such as incompetency, exploitation, nepotism, lack of transparency, lack of social inclusion and lack of performance measurement by the leadership.
The MCIT has not been successful in performing capacity development of the IT specialists within the ministry nor has facilitated opportunities for students in universities, members of the civil society or private sector employees, using the existing infrastructure that we have in the country. Similarly, while E-Government strategies have been developed, not a single public service automation has been achieved, resulting in isolated islands of computer networks and Information Systems throughout the government. MCIT also has not been successful in utilizing international aid for local content development. Moreover, Internet Service Providers have failed to provide the level of service the customers were expecting and that is due to lack of monitoring and evaluation by the MCIT.
The theme of this paper revolves around policy development for data security, public service reforms, human resource skills development, infrastructure improvement, local content creation, transparent governance and quality management of the existing services. The recommendations suggested in this paper smoothens the path for a grander vision of a digital Afghanistan, which can only be achieved if the existing services and processes are redefined.