Friday, November 18, 2005

Practical example: community of practice on e-government

(Picture: One of the ministry buildings in Ghana)
The World Bank has embraced communities of practice as an important strategy for knowledge management. They have a question and answers section on communities of practice. November 15 they organised a videoconference session for a community of practice on e-government. The two-hours webcast where participants from Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Ghana, Rwanda, Kzakhstan, Moldova and the USA exchange experiences on their e-government projects is available online. (Ghana starts at 1:32 minutes :)). I must say I admire the fact that these kind of webcasts make these project very transparent. On the other hand, it is very raw information, and I rather had a good article on their projects and lessons. I did not hear so many interesting things, and tried to read e-mail, the newspaper, cook and pour drinks for the children at the same time. I can imagine a face-to-face meeting would have provided much more opportunities for participants to exchange and dig deeper. I visited the videoconference facility at GIMPA in Accra (also described in the Iconnect story on Ghana) and the manager told me some people regret the fact that videoconferences reduce the opportunities to travel around the globe....

Ghana reported that it is working on an enabling regulatory environment, including policies and a Telecom Act. And it has set up an information and communication agency. To come up with concrete projects and programs they have surveyed the MDAs (goverment bodies) and found a specific interest in revenue mobilisation, business registration and payroll applications. Public-Private Partnerships are seen an important way to implement more projects with less funding.

The World Bank mentioned that they see this group as a community of practice. I'm very curious to know how the community functions beyond this type of videoconferences. I got the impression there is much more communication between the World Bank (weekly teleconferences were mentioned) and the individual country participants than amongst the countries themselves. I haven't found many case descriptions from the World Bank describing the community of practice nurturing process (but haven't dug their whole website).

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