Improving citizen-state relations via electronic governance: A field experiment in Botswana
For many citizens in countries of the Global South, the relationship with the state is rather vague and not characterised by high levels of interaction. Low state presence is a particularly strong phenomenon in Sub-Saharan Africa, where governments are heavily resource-constrained and historically struggle to project and exercise power across their territory. Digitalisation, and in particular e-government services reduce the cost and preconditions to engage directly with citizens.
In this paper, we test the effect of the exposure to e-government services on citizen’s perceptions about how much politicians care for their problems. The results of a randomised controlled trial in cooperation with the tax administration of Botswana and an original survey on the use of e-services and political attitudes in Gaborone indicate that the use of e-services positively affects this perception. These results have major implications on how digital tools can be used and misused to improve the relationship between citizens and the state in democratic countries characterised by low state capacity.
Paper written by: Markus Geray (ETH Zurich) Armin von Schiller (DIE) David Sebudubudu (University of Botswana) Sebastian Ziaja (DIE)
Speaker: Dr. Armin von Schiller is researcher at the German Development Institute (DIE)
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