How Responsive is Kazakhstan’s e-Government?
This year’s Global Information Technology Report showed Kazakhstan performing relatively well in terms of technological propaganda: the country was ranked 68th out of 134. However, this does not necessarily mean that Kazakhstan’s government is using its online resource effectively.
The term “e-government,” according to Wikipedia, refers to “the use of technology to enhance the access to and delivery of government services to benefit citizens, business partners and employees.” This means citizens are supposed to use these services, but it also means that a government’s electronic portal is supposed to respond to user demands. In Kazakhstan, however, it is more often the case that the government decides what services its people need and how they are going to access them.
The biggest flaw in the project is that its user interface is, to put it lightly, below par, which is actually a flaw of all government websites.
“Take, for example, the government website www.government.kz . The domain name is in English. There are letters in the middle of the word, which are not pronounced. Someone who doesn’t speak English will find it very difficult to remember the name, although they could, of course, locate it using a search engine,” says Yulia Natarova, deputy director of the Zubr Foundation, which evaluated the website.
Another problem is accessibility. How many people can access the e-government website and find the information they need? Are all those who need to use it able to? Officially, the number of internet users in Kazakhstan is growing, but the majority of them are residents of large cities (Almaty, Astana, Karaganda). Those who have to make long trips from their villages to larger cities in order to get documents are unlikely to get high-speed internet access in the near future.
When we say that we are watching the internet in our country grow before our very eyes, we don’t take these “small details” into account. I should add that, if we are planning to start using electronic documents, we have to make sure the process is streamlined on all levels of government (village, district and regional), otherwise documents used in rural areas might not be accepted in urban centers for technical reasons (for example, computers may not be equipped to handle some types of paperwork).
A few days ago, the website’s usability improved somewhat. Now, we just have to wait until user demands are taken into account.