Towards Open Government in Morocco: Fez Empirical Case

One defining feature of the 21st Century is the growing diffusion of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) worldwide. These are not only changing the world but also changing features and characteristics inherent in their design; and therefore, bringing about the second ICT generation: Web 2.0 as well as the new possibilities it facilitates (e.g. social networking and effects associated with it). Respectively, “Openness” is increasingly an emerging trend in ICT domains; a trend facilitating new possibilities and presenting new challenges.

This abstract proposes to shed some empirical insight with respect to some characteristics of Openness. It the purpose of sharing the experience of a triad, made of the Public-Private collaborative partnership between the ICT4D Research Laboratory at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane (AUI) and the City of Fez, Morocco, which received research support from the Canadian organization: International Development and Research Center (IDRC). This triad initially started working on Fez e-Government Project (or eFez); the major outcome was collaborative organized research action initiating real-life introduction of a shift towards Open Government in Morocco. eFez 1) abandoned exclusionary proprietary technologies and used open Source technologies, 2) followed open design-implementation guiding principles via the promotion of “co-creation” and ‘prosumption’ of government citizen-oriented electronic services, and 3) promoted open practices via the enabling of unprecedented openings of local government offices (known as Bureaux d’Etat Civil) allowing direct access to citizen-oriented records and certificates associated with the administrations through first-time introductions of self-service technology at the local scale. Within Morocco’s developing country context, these Openness-facilitated innovations in public service delivery have trigged socio-organizational changes, which generated a greater public value of local administrations, namely recognizable improvements in certain day-to-day operations. With the recently IDRC-funded research project: Wireless Metropolitan Area Network at Fez (wman@fez), the joint-venture is furthering openness and sophistication in Fez real-life practices of Open Government in Morocco.

The paper uses an empirical approach to present the multi-level achievements of Fez real-life experience that enabled the initiation of shift towards Open Government in Morocco; discuss the challenges (at the micro and macro levels) currently restricting the optimum gain and potential value generated from ICT-facilitated Openness, and investigate new opportunities to develop and support in eGovernment practice and development.

Authors: Driss Kettani and Asmae El Mahdi

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