National Assembly of Mauritius
The National Assembly of Mauritius represents a compelling case study for how an institution can effectively leverage digital transformation to streamline operations, increase transparency, and better serve its constituents. Starting from an organization without a local area network, the National Assembly has experienced a significant transformation over the past two decades, evolving into a paperless Parliament with advanced digital capabilities.
The Evolution of the Digital Parliament
Mauritius’ parliamentary digital transformation journey began nearly 20 years ago. As with most organisations, the advent of digital and social technologies brought about profound changes in the way the Assembly operated. The citizens’ transformation into ‘smart citizens’ necessitated a corresponding change in how the Parliament communicated, necessitating a shift towards more accessible and transparent digital practices.
The digitization process started with the establishment of a local area network and gradually expanded to include various digital initiatives, including a fully paperless system and the strategic use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for transparent auditing and effective communication.
The digital transformation made the Parliament more accessible to the citizens, allowing them to access decisions made in the Parliament at a click. This marked a significant shift from the traditional method of having to physically come to Parliament to access documents.
Digital Parliament Goals and Challenges
The primary goal of the digital transformation was to make the Parliament more representative, transparent, and accessible. Applying digital technologies to processes resulted in enhanced transparency, integrity, and authenticity, benefitting both auditing purposes and the citizens.
Despite its successes, the digital transformation journey was not without its challenges. Notably, securing the necessary funding for ICT projects often required appealing to the executive government. Additionally, the availability of expert skills, particularly in open-source technologies, was somewhat limited.
Key Digital Initiatives
The digital transformation journey of the National Assembly of Mauritius involved a number of key initiatives. These included:
Despite the advancements, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted areas of the National Assembly’s digital transformation that needed improvement, particularly in terms of sustainability and resilience.
Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic acted as a catalyst for the National Assembly’s digital transformation. While some processes could not be done remotely, the Assembly was able to continue its operations through remote access to systems, video conferencing, and other digital processes. The pandemic also necessitated changes to physical infrastructure, such as the chamber’s recording and live streaming facilities.
The pandemic also pushed the Assembly to become entirely paperless, with members forced to utilise digital platforms for communication. This transition was facilitated by providing members with training and ICT allowances for the purchase of digital devices.
The digital transformation journey of the National Assembly of Mauritius highlights the potential benefits of leveraging digital technologies to modernise traditional parliamentary processes. Despite the challenges encountered, the Assembly’s commitment to digitisation has resulted in a more accessible, transparent, and efficient Parliament.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic also underscored the importance of ensuring that digital transformation efforts are sustainable and resilient. As the Assembly moves forward, it will need to confront new challenges and questions, such as those related to cloud computing and security. The journey of digital transformation continues, offering exciting opportunities and challenges.
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