A Comprehensive Examination of the SoCATT Africa Region's Blueprint

About SoCATT 

Strategic Partners

Published on: May, 2023




As the digital revolution continues to reshape the world, the realm of governance, too, finds itself at a crossroads, facing a call to integrate technology into its fabric. The South-South Cooperation for the Transformation of Parliaments (SoCATT) Africa Region has responded to this call by proposing a thoughtfully crafted blueprint for the development of ‘e-Parliaments’. This progressive concept introduces a blend of traditional parliamentary operations with cutting-edge Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). The envisioned e-Parliament is an embodiment of heightened transparency, inclusivity, and efficiency, driven by a comprehensive digital strategy.


The allure of the e-Parliament lies in its promise to democratise access to legislative bodies, fostering a more engaged citizenry. It seeks to use technology to break down barriers and bring people closer to the parliamentary processes that shape their lives. By making these processes more accessible, it invites the public into the heart of decision-making, thereby fostering a more inclusive political discourse.


Furthermore, this approach holds significant potential to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of parliaments. Through the strategic deployment of technology, the e-Parliament blueprint envisages a future where legislative activities are streamlined and optimised. This drive towards efficiency will not only enhance the operational capabilities of parliaments but also yield substantial cost savings in the long run.


The SoCATT Africa Region’s e-Parliament blueprint is a bold and ambitious response to the digital age’s challenges and opportunities. It recognises the transformative potential of technology and seeks to harness it to reimagine the operation of legislative bodies. However, this vision is not without its complexities. Successfully transitioning from traditional parliaments to e-Parliaments will require a deep understanding of the blueprint’s foundational principles, a keen awareness of its core components, and a comprehensive strategy for its implementation.


This essay embarks on an academic exploration of the e-Parliament blueprint. It aims to provide a nuanced understanding of its various facets, critically analyse its merits and potential challenges, and explore the pathways for its successful implementation. The objective is not merely to dissect the blueprint but to contribute to the broader discourse on the role of technology in governance, its transformative potential, and its implications for the future of democratic institutions.


E-Parliaments: Redefining Legislative Frameworks


According to the SoCATT Africa Region report, an e-Parliament signifies a profound fusion of technology into the nucleus of parliamentary procedures, augmenting their efficiency, accessibility, and resilience. The report stresses that the concept of e-Parliaments advances beyond merely transitioning existing processes into the digital realm; it envisages a dynamic, holistic integration of technology into every facet of parliamentary functioning.


In this context, every operational domain within a parliamentary framework, extending from parliamentary support services to enabling services, is required to integrate a technology adviser into its strategic planning structure. As per the report, these advisers will serve as the nexus between the technological and legislative landscapes, guiding the incorporation of ICT into legislative practices, and keeping an active eye on the horizon for new technological developments and trends.


This redefined legislative framework, as proposed in the report, encourages a shift from traditionally rigid structures to more agile institutions. These future-ready entities, continuously primed for innovation, aim to stay ahead of the curve in a rapidly evolving digital landscape. The report emphasises the necessity for such agility, given the pace of technological advancement and the consequential changes in societal expectations and norms.


Notably, the report acknowledges that this ambitious transformation necessitates a shift in institutional mindset. The adoption of e-Parliaments is not just about upgrading technology; it is a fundamental change in the way parliaments engage with their stakeholders, process information, and make decisions. This shift will require institutions to embrace change, foster a culture of continuous learning, and invest in skills development for both administrators and Members of Parliament.


The e-Parliament, as envisioned in the SoCATT Africa Region report, therefore, stands as a testament to the transformative potential of technology in governance. It proposes a model of parliamentary operations that is not only efficient and accessible but also responsive and adaptable to the changing technological landscape. It offers a blueprint for legislative bodies to remain relevant, effective, and trusted in a digital age, demonstrating a profound understanding of the interplay between technology and governance.


The Cornerstones of E-Parliaments


Human Component: People in E-Parliaments


The SoCATT Africa Region report identifies ‘people’ as the first crucial pillar that constitutes the foundation of an effective e-Parliament. This encompasses not merely the end users and beneficiaries of the e-Parliament – a group that includes Members of Parliament (MPs), legislative staff, and the wider public – but also those tasked with the essential duty of developing, maintaining, and supporting the e-Parliament. The success of the e-Parliament initiative, as per the report’s recommendations, hinges on the buy-in and active participation of these individuals. It is they who will implement, utilise, and eventually shape the new Parliament, reinforcing the need for their commitment and vocal advocacy for the e-Parliament initiative.


Operational Transformation: Process in E-Parliaments


The ‘process’ element forms the second key cornerstone, referring to the fundamental parliamentary or democratic operations that are either bolstered or transformed by the introduction of technology. The report underscores that this transformation is not merely about automating existing procedures but rather about reshaping and improving these processes through the integration of technology. In doing so, the e-Parliament model aims to enhance the effectiveness and accessibility of parliamentary functions while also future-proofing them against technological advances.


Technological Framework: Architecture of E-Parliaments


The ‘architecture’ constitutes the third cornerstone, referencing the crucial infrastructure, hardware, and software necessary to enable the transition to an e-Parliament. The report suggests that the architecture should be robust, secure, and adaptable, capable of supporting the e-Parliament’s operations and evolving in line with technological advancements.


Data Management and Utilisation in E-Parliaments


Finally, ‘data’ represents the fourth pillar, embodying the information and documents created, stored, transmitted, and shared within the e-Parliament framework. This element signifies the vital importance of effective data management, protection, and use in the successful operation of an e-Parliament, as identified in the report.


Implementing the E-Parliament Vision: A Multifaceted Approach


The SoCATT Africa Region report delineates a comprehensive strategy for the successful realisation of an e-Parliament. This strategy is rooted in the involvement of key stakeholders, the establishment of guiding committees, and a robust change management programme.


The Human Element


Firstly, the report highlights the critical role of individuals in the transformation process. The institutional leaders and those tasked with the implementation and eventual use of the new parliamentary system must fully endorse the concept of an e-Parliament. The establishment of an e-Parliament committee, ideally chaired by the Speaker and inclusive of representatives from all parties within the legislative body, is suggested to ensure a broad-based commitment to the transformation process.


Role of Steering Committee


Secondly, the report underscores the importance of a steering committee. This committee, preferably chaired by the Secretary, should be constituted by representatives from diverse areas such as technology, core business functions, and support services. Such a committee would play a pivotal role in overseeing the transition, ensuring harmonious coordination across different areas of the institution, and aligning the e-Parliament vision with the broader institutional objectives.


Change Management as the Bedrock of Transformation


Finally, the report accentuates the imperative of change management. To ensure a seamless transition, existing business processes need to be thoroughly reviewed and potentially amended to incorporate the e-activities characteristic of the e-Parliament system. Organisational restructuring, particularly concerning the placement and role of technology owners/drivers within the institution, is seen as a possible outcome. Additionally, the report emphasises the crucial need for a substantial investment in skills development, applicable equally to administrative personnel and Members of Parliament.


Implementing the E-Parliament Vision: A Comprehensive Strategy


The SoCATT Africa Region report provides a comprehensive blueprint for implementing an e-Parliament, emphasising the involvement of key stakeholders, the establishment of guiding committees, and a robust change management programme. This three-pronged strategy offers a pragmatic path towards a successful digital transition within legislative bodies.


The Human Element in Digital Transition


At the heart of the e-Parliament implementation process lies the ‘human’ element. The report underscores the pivotal role of institutional leaders, those charged with the practicalities of implementing the system, and the eventual users of the new parliamentary structure. The full endorsement and active participation of these individuals are instrumental in driving the successful transition to an e-Parliament.


To secure a broad-based commitment to the transformation, the report recommends the formation of an e-Parliament committee. This committee, ideally chaired by the Speaker, should encompass representatives from all parties within the legislative body, thereby ensuring a democratic and inclusive approach towards digital transition. By involving a diverse range of political voices, this committee would serve to legitimise the e-Parliament project, mitigate resistance to change, and foster a shared vision of the future digital legislature.


The Steering Committee: Navigating the Path towards E-Parliament


The second pillar of the e-Parliament implementation strategy, as outlined in the report, is the establishment of a steering committee. This committee, preferably chaired by the Secretary, is suggested to include representatives from technology, core business, and support services within the institution. The role of this committee is multi-faceted, from ensuring the seamless integration of technology into various institutional processes to aligning the e-Parliament objectives with the broader goals of the institution.


By incorporating diverse perspectives within the steering committee, the report underscores the interconnected nature of the transition process. The committee serves as a hub for strategic decision-making, overseeing the alignment of technological and institutional goals, and ensuring that the transition process is guided by a clear and coherent strategy.


Change Management: The Bedrock of Digital Transformation


The final component of the e-Parliament implementation strategy is a robust change management programme. The report recognises that the digital transition is not merely a technical exercise but a fundamental shift in the way the parliament operates. To ensure a seamless transition, the report advocates for a comprehensive review, and potential amendment, of existing business processes to accommodate the e-activities characteristic of an e-Parliament.


This change management programme may necessitate substantial organisational restructuring, particularly concerning the placement and role of technology owners/drivers within the institution. Such restructuring would ensure that technology is not simply bolted onto existing processes but is integrated into the fabric of the institution, thereby maximising its transformative potential.


Maturity Levels: From E-Parliament 1.0 to 2.0


Recognising the nuanced, gradual nature of transformation towards an e-Parliament, the SoCATT Africa Region report introduces a maturity model. This model serves as a roadmap, guiding parliaments through various stages of digital evolution, each marked by distinct characteristics and capabilities.


E-Parliament 1.0: Laying the Foundations


The maturity model’s initial stage, referred to as e-Parliament 1.0, is characterised by the establishment of foundational elements crucial for setting the direction for the broader digital transformation journey. According to the report, this stage involves the formation of an e-Parliament committee and a comprehensive change management plan.


The e-Parliament committee, ideally chaired by the Speaker and representing all parties within the legislative body, ensures that the transformation has the necessary leadership and support. The change management plan, on the other hand, focuses on managing the transition process, including possible modifications of existing business processes to accommodate e-activities and the redesign of organisational structures.


E-Parliament 1.5: Building Momentum


According to the report, the transition from e-Parliament 1.0 to e-Parliament 2.0 is not abrupt, but rather involves an intermediary stage referred to as e-Parliament 1.5. This stage represents a period of consolidating the gains made during the foundational stage and gearing up for the more advanced digital integration of e-Parliament 2.0.


During this stage, the focus shifts towards enhancing the use of ICT in parliamentary operations, improving the interoperability of digital platforms, and establishing more sophisticated mechanisms for digital public engagement. This stage serves as a critical stepping stone, building the momentum needed for the full realisation of the e-Parliament vision.


E-Parliament 2.0: Achieving Advanced Digital Integration


As parliaments mature in their digital transition, they progressively advance to e-Parliament 2.0. This advanced stage of maturity encompasses features that demonstrate a higher degree of digital integration and sophistication.


Referring to the report, e-Parliament 2.0 is characterised by a robust cybersecurity plan and a digital public engagement tool, among other features. A cybersecurity plan is integral for safeguarding the integrity and confidentiality of parliamentary information in the digital realm, while a digital public engagement tool is instrumental in fostering transparency and inclusivity within the democratic process.


This maturity model, as outlined by the report, provides a useful framework for parliaments to navigate their digital transformation journey. It allows for a systematic, structured approach that recognises the challenges, requirements, and milestones associated with each stage of maturity.




The SoCATT Africa Region’s e-Parliament blueprint serves as a powerful testament to the potential of digital transformation within the sphere of legislative governance. The authors have meticulously devised a robust and comprehensive strategy to guide traditional legislative bodies towards becoming digitally proficient, inclusive, and efficient institutions.


The successful manifestation of an e-Parliament, as underscored in the report, extends beyond mere technological integration. It necessitates a strong leadership commitment, broad-based stakeholder engagement, and a rigorously managed transition process. The report astutely highlights the crucial interplay of these elements, weaving them into the fabric of the e-Parliament vision.


The introduction of the maturity model within the blueprint demonstrates the authors’ keen understanding of the iterative nature of digital transformation. Its design offers a practical and insightful roadmap to navigate the complex journey towards an e-Parliament, illustrating the different stages of maturity, from the foundational e-Parliament 1.0 through the more advanced e-Parliament 2.0, with an intermediary stage of e-Parliament 1.5.


In conclusion, the SoCATT Africa Region’s report is a significant contribution to the discourse on legislative digitalisation, offering valuable insights and tools for parliaments worldwide. The authors’ discerning approach and attention to detail have resulted in a blueprint that is both visionary and grounded, making it an essential reference for any legislative body embarking on the journey towards digital transformation.

Support this library and donate

Supporting and donating to this library is more than a contribution; it is a vote for the importance of freely accessible knowledge and a pledge to our shared intellectual growth. Each donation aids in the curation, preservation, and expansion of our resources, ensuring the continued availability of relevant and timely content. It helps us sustain the quality and breadth of our offerings, enabling us to serve our diverse community better. Your contribution signifies your commitment to fostering a vibrant, informed, and connected community, underpinned by the principle of equitable access to knowledge.