In the wake of Hosni Mubarak's overthrow, Associate Professor Christopher Reddick is assisting Egypt's effort at having its citizens gain greater access to data and services via e-government tools, making the government more efficient and responsive to its citizens' needs.
An email, a revolution and new technology merge to offer new
possibilities to Egyptians
An email to Christopher Reddick, Chair of
the Department of Public Administration, resulted
in an international partnership that could
change the relationship between Egyptians and
In 2009, Hisham Abdelsalam searched through the scholarly
work of researchers and experts on the potential of e-government-,
a system that uses internet-based-technology
to enhance interaction between citizens, business owners
and government. Abdelsalam, an associate professor
at Cairo University in Egypt and director of the Decision
Support and Future Studies Center, wanted to explore how
technology might offer Egyptians greater access to local,
regional and national government information and improve
governance of the country.
Reddick’s Handbook of Research on Strategies for Local
-Government-Adoption and Implementation: Comparative
Studies, a two-volume-collection of studies on the impact
of e-government-in 21 countries, led to Abdelsalam’s note
to Reddick, asking if he would participate in his project,
The project, headed by Abdelsalam and his center, examines
how the country could increase access by Egyptians
to government data and services through web sites
and mobile phones. LoGIn2EGYPT is funded through a
grant from the International Development Research Centre
in Canada and is sponsored by the Egyptian Ministry
of State for Administrative Development.
The project team already had researchers with backgrounds
in engineering or information technology who
were focused on the technical side of the program. But
Abdelsalam was seeking something more.
"We needed a distinguished researcher who would
help us see the other side of the program—the impact and
usefulness [or] weaknesses of the e-government-applications,"
he said. "Dr. Reddick, with his scholarly articles
in e-government-maturity, was the right person to help,
and he kindly agreed to do so, giving us the chance to
achieve all of our project’s objectives."
Reddick now serves as consultant for LoGIn2EGYPT
and has developed surveys and assisted in the research
and writing of several academic papers for the project.
In the summer, he traveled to Egypt for a two–day workshop,
where he explained how e–government tools could
assist the wider populace as well as the country’s leaders
in developing a more efficient and effective system
The project’s timing turns out to have been ideal. The
2011 Egyptian Revolution, in which dissidents overthrew
president Hosni Mubarak, was an opportunity for change
and transparency in the country, Abdelsalam said. There
was a shocking amount of organized corruption under
the Mubarak regime that was exposed, he added.
"Throughout Egyptian society, voices are...calling for
a law ensuring freedom of disclosure and access to information,"
Abdelsalam said. "There have been a notable
number of journal articles, TV...talk–shows and conferences
going around this critical issue."
The recent uprisings have led to the possibility of more
open government than Egyptians have experienced during
the 40 years of Mubarak’s rule. Team members hope
they will be able to acquire database records from some
government agencies so they can begin to build prototypes
of online web–based systems that Egyptians can
use to request information, similar to the U.S. web site
www.data.gov. There is no open records law in Egypt, so
the LoGIn2EGYPT team will have to rely on their ability
to persuade governmental authorities to release the data.
"How can e-government-change corruption? Instead
of [seeking help at] a counter, services can be done
online, which reduces the ability to ask for bribes,"
Because 70 percent of Egyptians have access to mobile
phones, "this could be the next wave of e-government-,"
Reddick said such a site would benefit all Egyptians,
and the government itself. "To be a democracy, you have
to be open," he said
–Sherrie Voss Matthews