Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Professor closes in on the ‘digital divide’

The end of January marked the beginning of the ongoing Egyptian revolution, and next month Egyptians will again witness a major building block in their fight for a corruption-free government; the country’s first open elections.

In support of this country’s significant time in history, UTSA expert Dr. Christopher Reddick is helping Egyptian academic and political leaders develop an e-government system that will help the new democratic system.

Last year, Reddick was approached by Cairo University and was identified through his other publication “Handbook of Research on Strategies for Local E-Government Adoption and Implementation: Comparative Studies.” The book consists of two volumes and provides research on 21 different countries and the impact e-government has had on them.

Reddick took his first trip to Egypt last June where he met with Cairo University associate Hisham Abdelsalam, and they began talking about how they were going to implement grants. They began work on some of the papers they would be working on in the upcoming year.

In the United States, more than 50 percent of citizens use the internet to pay bills and taxes online or to look up trash collection pick-up and voting registration information. In Egypt, the statistics are much lower; only 15 percent use the internet to gather taht information.

Though most of Reddick’s research is based on citizens’ interaction with the government through the internet, businesses are using the internet to contact the government for licensing.

“The whole idea of e-government is so the citizens (or businesses) can contact their government 24/7,” Reddick said.

E-government in Egypt is still a developing operation because Egypt’s goverment is in a rebuilding process.

“The promise for developing countries is that they will be able to use this technology and utilize e-government and mobile banking,” Reddick said. “I think the future is mobile technology, especially for developing technologies.”

With more government services online, one of Reddick’s goals is to “eliminate some of the corruption and give Egyptians more trust and confidence in their government.”

The ‘digital divide’ in Egypt falls mostly on the side of the people who do not have internet and technology access, but more than 50 percent of Egyptians have the use of basic cell phones. They may not have the access to smart phones, but they are able to send and receive text messages, and in some cases even read web pages, and those are the beginning steps for this developing government.

It is largely in the hands of the younger generation to make a difference in the upcoming elections, and it is the youth that this new notion of internet and technology based government will take off with.

“Technology is not something that is going away and governments have to keep pace. If they don’t, citizens will demand more,” Reddick said. “The future is very promising in what is put online; it’s just part of the issue that technology doesn’t take place alone. It takes place in a social setting.”

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