Influences of Information and Communication Technology on Fight against Corruption in Afghanistan
Cropped shot of two businessmen shaking hands while money passes hands under a table
Corruption in Afghanistan undermines basic services and high level of administration services, enables the production and trafficking of narcotics and fuels instability. In the short term, government officials and development institutions assistance has prevented the collapse of the afghan administration and management functions. However, international donors’ highly fragmented, poorly executed stabilization and democratization measures have strengthened structures of neo-patrimonial governance and allowed parallel structures of service delivery to develop. Additionally, a significant number of international donors and development institutions cut their funding in various factions in Afghanistan recently. However the government has made reform of anti-corruption in Afghanistan’s legal code. . Nonetheless, gaps remain in the institutional framework and lack of enforcement continues to be a barrier to state-building.
U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, in their 2019, investigated the causes of in Afghanistan in different categories. First of the current war and conflict situation which continues from last 40 years, therefore, the effects of war and conflicts, Afghanistan continues to be aid dependent, and it is unlikely that the Afghan state can maintain all of its basic core functions in the case of a sudden pull out of international donors. Indeed, the Afghan government is unable to raise the revenue to finance even its most basic expenditures and does not have the resilience to withstand a large donor pull out. In fact, corruption is a deeply entrenched, systematic and widespread issue in Afghanistan, according to the national corruption survey by Integrity Watch in 2018, 72% of the responders believe that corruption has become the main issue in the last two years. Moreover in 2017, the Asia foundation did a survey 83.7% of respondents believe corruption to be a major problem in future.
Goldstein stated in the U4 Anti-Corruption report in 2019 that this system of governance gives way to high levels of political corruption the evidence can be referable specifically to elections. Both 2014 and 2018 elections have corrupted highly irregular voting patterns and fraud. Therefore, a significant number of international donors cut their funding and support with the current government. Moreover, Integrity Watch reported in 2018 that an estimated 4.6 million of Afghan adults paid a bribe; a bribe referring to the part of the process of applying for jobs, interacting with provincial administration, security services and agents. These evidence show the high rate of corruption and systematic corrupted system of government.
However, the government of Afghanistan created some anti-corruption institutions and frameworks to tackle the corruption in some parts of the system. Afghanistan has multi anti-corruption institutions such as the High Council for Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (High Council) established in March 2016, and the high council is the highest ranking anti-corruption institution in Afghanistan. It’s working along the high level of the government as well as ministers and its members are from high level of the government and there some international institutions that are participating along with the government of Afghanistan to tackle down the systematic corruption from body of the government but still the level of corruption is very high in the center and state governance.
In this complicated system and situation still there hope for solving the issue through the experiences and using the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) along with anti-corruption institutions. The ICT can have significant roles against corruption in the government administration.
E-government has become popular in recent years, many countries resorting to Information and Communication Technology (ICTs) to bring change and modernize their government system, improve efficiency and improve public services delivery. Moreover, ICTs are helping the anti-corruption institutions to reduce the problem by promoting transparency, opening government data to the public, and by automating government processes, restricting discretion of officials and limiting citizens’ interaction with gatekeepers to access key services. Despite these high expectations and massive investment in advance technology and e-government, however, the evidence of impact is not the same. There are some high rate of failure because of the contextual factors, as well as, the type and quality services of the ICTs interventions. Indeed, the roles of ICTs and government are to reduce corruption in key government process systems such as procurement, taxation, human resource management, open data and service delivery. It also explores the potential of ICTs and social media for citizens’ mobilization and empowerment.
In conclusion, the influences of ICTs in reducing corruption from the government and organization system is widespread such as reducing information asymmetries between office holders and citizens, enabling the latter to assert their rights without corruption interfering, receiving feedback and reports from service users to regularly track satisfaction, identify problems, report corruption and improve service quality. In addition, Davies and Fumega, the writers of U4 anti-corruption magazine in 2014, categorized the ICT interventions in to two different types of interventions firs the transaction reform for the controlling automatically the government process, restrict discretion of officials and increase the detection of corruption; second the related to the transparency reforms that focusing to the opening up the states and increasing the circulation of the information from the state government to citizens. It makes the actions of the state and its administration more visible to citizens, civil society and private sectors who are working along with the government like NGOs and international donors.
Lastly it must be made policy in regards to advance the level of Information and Communication Technology (ICTs) in the government system along with the anti-corruption institutions across the states from the central government. This is a crucial step needed to take in order to reduce the rate of corruption and further fraud in states and centers of the Afghanistan government.