Chapter 2. Core government functions and digital solutions

The delivery of public services presupposes that governments are primarily capable to ensure and exercise a set of basic functions, such as collecting revenues, monitoring expenditure, managing the civil service or ensuring communication through public bodies and with citizens and businesses. Accordingly, the design and implementation of digital government strategies in African Portuguese-Speaking Countries and Timor-Leste (PALOP-TL) must take into account the ability of their respective governments to carry out a minimum set of core functions, which are deemed as an essential building block to ensure the foundations of a digitally transformed public sector. This chapter assesses how such upstream and downstream core government functions are currently being ensured by the governments of the PALOP-TL countries, as well as how digital solutions are being used to drive, support and improve the delivery of public services.


Ensuring core government functions

The digital transformation of public administrations requires that governments are capable of ensuring the exercise of a minimum set of executive functions, which are essential and preliminary to the delivery of digital or non-digital public services.

Capabilities to leverage digital technologies and government data for the full and effective exercise of these core government functions are considered a fundamental requisite for administrations to move from analogue and e-government systems towards the digital government paradigm. Without these basic government capabilities, a digital transformation simply will not be feasible.

In recent years, multilateral development organisations have identified a common trajectory of institutional and administrative development for countries in the process of transition and development. This trajectory begins with the need to build or re-establish core administrative capacities in key domains of government, both upstream in the areas of public financial management, administration of government, management of the civil service and local government (where applicable); but also downstream, in the delivery of public services. Among important lessons learned in this body of work is the relevance of adopting both a problem-orientation approach by using digital solutions to assist the government to solve problems in the core administration of the public sector; and a political economy perspective, which entails understanding the political interests and priorities of decision makers in government, the need for flexibility and adaptation to changing political circumstances, and the importance of staying the course in the face of temporary reversals. As opposed to adopting comprehensive government reforms, or entirely new business processes (or digital technologies), this initial phase is about building on existing institutional legacies, tailoring to fit or adapting existing systems to the relevant policy and institutional priorities of government, learning by doing, and building on incremental capabilities so as to not overwhelm nascent systems (UNDP, 2014; United Nations/World Bank, 2017).

Taking into account this established body of learning, this chapter identifies the role of digital solutions as a tool to assist governments of PALOP-TL countries to build on or strengthen their core government functions in order to assess how digital solutions are being used - or could be used - to ensure or improve government performance. In undertaking this work of analysis, this review of the six PALOP-TL countries has shown that during the initial phase of administrative development, digital solutions are important tools not only in themselves, but also as a means to achieve basic government functionality. With basic functionality established, digital solutions can then serve to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of administrative capacities, which in turn can create the necessary preconditions for a shift or transition towards the creation of a digital government.

Mapping the needs: From upstream to downstream functions

The core government functions or administrative challenges around which governments in the PALOP-TL region have been adopting the use of digital solutions can be divided into two principal areas:

  • Upstream functions, which comprise the public financial management systems (i.e. collection of revenue and public expenditure), the administration of government (i.e. the executive co-ordination between the government agencies), the management of civil service and the local governance.

  • Downstream functions, which comprise all types of public services borne by the state, both at the central and local levels.

Figure 2.1. Upstream and downstream core government functions

Source: Adapted from United Nations/World Bank (2017), (Re)Building Core Government Functions in Fragile and Conflict Affected Settings,

Using digital solutions to enable the basic functioning of government and to improve government performance

There is considerable variation across the PALOP-TL region in the performance of basic government functions, with some countries demonstrating the necessary preconditions conducive to a digital transformation, while others require more work to ensure administrative systems coherence and functioning.

On the one hand, the experiences of Angola, Cabo Verde and Mozambique demonstrate the door-step conditions for the creation of a digital government, with extant institutional systems and varying efforts being taken towards administrative simplification and efficiency. However, both Angola and Mozambique continue to grapple with persistent challenges, often linked to problems resulting from the lack of interoperability between government digital platforms, despite consistent efforts undertaken by governments to address this problem. On the positive side, all of these countries are working to improve their existing public financial management IT systems to enable greater and better supervision and interaction of central government with provinces, districts and/or municipalities, with the ultimate goal of improving the consolidation, oversight and monitoring of budget planning and execution and, in some cases, ensuring effective financial and fiscal decentralisation (Mozambique and Cabo Verde).

On the other hand, the experiences of Sao Tome and Principe and Timor-Leste reveal more moderate levels of administrative and institutional capacity, with the need for further strengthening basic requirements for the strategic use of digital technologies and information and communication technology (ICT) solutions, including, for example, the improvement of government communication networks, consistent use of email accounts, and data collection and management (including sharing and reuse).

Finally, and somewhat of an outlier, is the current experience in Guinea-Bissau, where government performance remains challenged with poor to limited functioning of key digital systems of government, including those for revenue generation (tax and customs) or human resources management.

Looking forward: National development plans and public administration reform strategies

Understanding government strategies for improving public services delivery in the medium- and long-term is a necessary step for understanding the potential of digital government strategies to shape public policies and administrative procedures (digital by design) for digital public services delivery and for the uptake of digital technologies. Such a forward-looking vision must necessarily take into account national development plans and public administration reforms under implementation in the PALOP-TL region.

In general, the national development plans of all countries in the PALOP-TL region refer to the importance of developing and promoting the simplification of administrative and bureaucratic systems, making public services more responsive to citizens and businesses’ needs, improving the business environment, promoting the transparency and accountability of the administration, and improving the capacity and effectiveness of government institutions at the central and local level (see Table 2.1). However, only Angola, Cabo Verde, Guinea-Bissau and Sao Tome and Principe explicitly consider digital government policies and programmes a strategic priority for the attainment of these objectives.

Priorities also vary according to the needs of each country, including the use of digital technologies as core features of public administration. For example, the government of Sao Tome and Principe has decided to prioritise the modernisation of the justice sector, namely through the digitisation of procedures and registers and the creation of a database for better case management (Ministério da Justiça, Administração Pública e Direitos Humanos, 2017). Similarly, Timor-Leste’s “Guidelines for Public Administration Reform” (Governo de Timor-Leste, 2016) highlight the need to create a specialised unit to support the implementation of government-wide digital transformation strategies (under the supervision of the Prime Minister's Office) (see Section 3.2).1

The approach in other countries is quite different. For instance, in Mozambique, ICT responses to better manage the civil service are embedded in the "Strategic Plan for the State Administration and Civil Service Sector 2016-2019" (Ministério da Administração Estatal e Função Pública, 2016). In Angola, Reform and Modernization of Public Administration, one of the pillars of political and institutional development in Agenda 20252 (Ministério do Planeamento e do Desenvolvimento Territorial, 2008), refers to administrative de-bureaucratisation and simplification as a lever for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of public service delivery, leaving the more concrete measures of technological modernisation to the government’s digital government strategic plans (see Section 3.1). A working group has recently been set up to draft a proposal for the new state reform3, which could provide a good opportunity to embed measurable results and objectives to support the implementation of digital government policies and programmes in the reform proposal that will be submitted for approval.

In Cabo Verde, digital transformation is regarded as a cross-cutting vision shared among all government agencies, academia, businesses and civil society, and has a prominent place in the "Strategic Plan for Sustainable Development 2017-2021". This highlights the simplification of administrative procedures in all public services and the mainstreaming of ICT across government as catalysts to accelerate modernisation of the public sector (Governo de Cabo Verde, 2017). This strategy calls on the government to develop a new public sector reform strategy that takes this vision into account. The case of Cabo Verde is particularly interesting, because the impact of the use of digital technologies throughout the administration is not exclusive to the executive, as it also serves to promote the efficiency and transparency of the judiciary and the legislative branches of the state (see Box 2.1).

Box 2.1. Cabo Verde: Legislative and Parliamentary Information System (SILP)

The Parliament of Cabo Verde has been using SILP, Legislative and Parliamentary Information System (Sistema de Informação Legislativa e Parlamentar), to enable the digital processing of parliamentary activity.

SILP is inspired by BUNGENI, an application developed by UN/DESA (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs) technicians. SILP allows, among others, the digital processing of parliamentary activity, automation of processes and electronic voting, as well as the management and publication of information produced by parliamentary activity.

More information available at

Guinea-Bissau does not yet have an approved strategy for public administration reform, although the national development plan, known as “Terra Ranka 2015-2020”, speaks to the “reform and strengthening of public administration” and is constituted of two pillars: “implementation and modernisation capacities” (Governo da Guiné-Bissau, 2015). As part of this strategy to enhance the efficient and effective management of civil, land and business records, the Terra Ranka proposes the creation of a multifunctional biometric national identity card, the development of geo-referential data through national territory cartography, and the improvement of legal entities registry services (RCCM and Tax Identity). In the area of public financial management, Terra Ranka aims to strengthen the capacities of the National Statistical Institute and to consolidate SIGFIP (Sistema Integrado de Gestão das Finanças Públicas - Integrated Public Financial Management System), the national public financial management system, as a means to reform local authorities and territorial administration and to decentralise the promotion of participatory development.

Table 2.1. References to digital government in national development plans and public sector reform strategies


National development plan (NDP)

Public sector reform strategies (PSRS)

References to ICT and digital government


Angola 2025 and National Development Plan 2018-2022


Reform Program (PREA)


Cabo Verde

Sustainable Development Strategic Plan 2017-2021

State Reform Agenda of Cabo Verde



Strategic and Operational Plan 2015-2020

(Terra Ranka)




Five-Year Government Plan 2015-2019

Strategic Plan for the State Administration and Civil Service Sector



Sao Tome and Príncipe

Transformation Agenda for Sao Tome and Principe 2015-2030

Strategic Plan of the Ministry of Justice, Public Administration and Human Rights 2017-2021



Strategic Development Plan 2011-2030

Public Administration Reform Guidelines


Government upstream functions and digital solutions

Public financial management

Public financial management (PFM), defined as the ability to mobilise revenue, allocate resources, undertake public spending, and account for results and spending4, is a core government function – without the ability to collect and manage revenues, the state becomes unviable. Tasks such as the collection of taxes and customs revenues and fees, budget planning and expenditure management (including recording of disbursements and commitments) are often carried out by the competent services through the use of PFM IT systems. It is often also the case that PFM IT systems are donor funded and modular in their construction, with very different levels of access, use and automation according to the system adopted.

All countries in the PALOP-TL region have developed computerised PFM systems, although their respective levels of development and the use of IT applications widely vary. In Guinea-Bissau, although SIGFIP has all the necessary functionalities to support budget preparation, execution and accounting, the accounting module is only partially used, the general ledger is not complete, and the resulting quality of accounts is poor (IMF, 2014). Similarly, in Timor-Leste, FreeBalance, the government’s accounting system, is only partially used and ill-equipped for programme-based budgeting, which the government has sought to begin now. As a result, the government continues to rely on excel spreadsheets and manual adjustments to reflect the outcome of budgetary negotiations, which is inefficient and prone to errors (OECD, 2017). Among the more advanced of the PALOP-TL countries, Cabo Verde stands out as the only country to have adopted results-based and gender-sensitive budgeting (Governo de Cabo Verde, 2018).

In the area of revenue management, the experiences of the six PALOP-TL countries are highly uneven. For instance, while in Guinea-Bissau and Sao Tome and Principe, the settlement and payment of tax revenues is made manually in paper format (OECD, 2018), in Angola, Cabo Verde, Mozambique and Timor-Leste, the tax administration has made electronic forms available which, in some cases, can be submitted online (cf.,, and In addition, taxes can be paid electronically and/or in person at the bank in these countries.

In Guinea-Bissau, the settlement, collection and taxes/fees payment system is not interconnected to the central bank, nor to the sectoral ministries, nor is there yet a single treasury account. Timor-Leste is still working on the creation of a reliable fiscal identity through a process of data collection, registration and enrolment of natural and legal persons (OECD, 2018).

On the positive side, all countries in the PALOP-TL region use automated systems for the settlement, collection and payment of customs duties and other taxes (customs electronic data interchange systems), as well as customs clearance (all countries are using the “Automated System for Customs Data – ASYCUDA ++/ASYCUDA World”, with the exception of Mozambique, which is using the “Tradenet” online platform5 – cf. and (Box 2.2).

Box 2.2. MCNET Single Electronic Window (Mozambique)

MCNet (Mozambique Community Network) is a public-private partnership that manages the "Single Electronic Window" (Janela Única Eletrónica - JUE) technology application. JUE is a complete trade facilitation solution that includes all the infrastructure and resources needed to establish an efficient, effective and sustainable operation and continuous growth for the customs clearance and monitoring of merchandise.

The JUE system is made up of two distinct IT subsystems which interact with each other: CMS and Tradenet. The CMS (customs management system) is a customs management platform used to process the customs clearance of goods. It provides the customs of Mozambique with information for processing and managing customs declarations and related activities. Tradenet is a computer platform that enables the interconnection and exchange of information with all users of the customs process, such as customs brokers, shipping companies, port operators, freight terminals, commercial banks, and other entities involved in customs clearance processes.

More information available at

Experiences vary regarding the management of treasury balances, with countries experiencing delays and difficulties in calculating treasury balances (Guinea-Bissau and Sao Tome and Principe) and others being able to ensure the predictability of cash flow forecasts in the short and medium term (cf. PEFA reports “Cabo Verde 2015”, “Guinea-Bissau 2014”, “Mozambique 2015”, “São Tome and Principe 2013” and “Timor-Leste 2014” – cf.

In terms of government spending, experiences also vary, for example: Guinea-Bissau and Timor-Leste continue to utilise paper-based procurement procedures, although Timor-Leste has an eProcurement Portal (, which is presented as a dashboard with information on all open tenders grouped by type of business. All awarded tenders can also be reviewed here. Looking forward, the portal can be systematised and more widely communicated across the public administration to support a transition to a full e-procurement portal, whereby service providers can submit tender proposals directly on line (OECD, 2017a). Similarly to Timor-Leste, Angola has recently launched two portals through which several tools are made available to enable potential applicants to access the information and procedures required for participation in public tenders (cf. and The new e-procurement system will be implemented in steps, with paper and electronic forms coexisting until full implementation. Cabo Verde and Mozambique are gradually introducing the necessary conditions (i.e. legislative and technology) for the use of electronic means for the procurement of goods and services.

Intergovernmental fiscal management and fiscal decentralisation, including linking PFM IT systems across institutions of government and connecting PFM in the districts or municipalities to central PFM terminals, are persisting constraints across PALOP-TL countries. This weakens revenue and budgetary coherence, as well as the consolidation and monitoring of budgetary execution across institutions and levels of government. Again, the particular challenges or priorities experienced across PALOP-TL countries differ, and some countries have made greater inroads than others. For example:

  • SIM (Sistema de Informação Municipal - Municipal Information System) was created in 2002 and later implemented in all municipalities of Cabo Verde (cf. SIM makes available various management tools to municipal administrations, including modules on financial management, human resources, tax management, licensing and land management, property rights management and management accounting. In addition, SIM enables the integration of municipal administrations into the state communications network and the provision of the basic services of this network, such as access to email and the Internet. SIM is also used as a management and communication tool between the central administration and the municipalities, and among the municipalities themselves. SIM has enabled municipal administrations to improve the timeliness of their audits, and could thus be a model for other PALOP-TL governments. However, Cabo Verde still needs to take the necessary steps to consolidate the information provided by SIM on the municipal budgets within the government national accounts.

  • Mozambique is about to connect all local governments and districts to the e-SISTAFE central terminal through the development and roll out of PFM modules to local administrations. E-SISTAFE does the following: makes all accounting records of all activities at the time they are carried out; makes it possible to pay most expenditure directly, i.e. by direct transfer to the beneficiaries' accounts, increasing security of payments; ensures timely extraction of reports; and provides essential information for the management (cf.

Progress in each or any of these areas is based on digital technologies and would benefit substantially from dedicated efforts to establish a digital PFM ecosystem (Table 2.2).

Table 2.2. PFM electronic systems







(Integrated Financial Management System)



(Automated System for Customs Data)

Cabo Verde


(Integrated Online Budget Management System)


(Municipal Information


ASYCUDA World (Automated System for Customs Data)



(Integrated Public Financial Management System)


ASYCUDA ++ (Automated System for Customs Data)



(Electronic State Financial Management System)


(Electronic State Financial Management System)


Sao Tome and Principe


(Integrated State Finance

Management System)


ASYCUDA World (Automated System for Customs Data)



(Government Accountability Software)


ASYCUDA World (Automated System for Customs Data)

Given its importance in most least developed countries (LDC), the management of external aid financial resources (in the form of loans or grants) is often regarded as a government function that deserves a separate analysis. In the case of PALOP-TL countries, perhaps with the exception of Angola, development aid is particularly important in the broader context of public financial management. In this respect, it is worth highlighting two examples where the use of digital technologies has served to support and make more efficient and transparent the management of development aid resources6:

  • The Aid Transparency Portal of Timor-Leste is the central repository for all aid information in Timor-Leste. It aims to improve aid transparency, accuracy and predictability and to ensure that the assistance provided is efficient and effective -

  • In Guinea-Bissau, the National Authorizing Office Supporting Unit (NAOSU) is the technical unit of the Ministry of Finance responsible for managing the funds awarded to the country by the European Union external assistance services. In 2010, NAOSU started the development of an unprecedented computerised document management system for processes and procedures in accordance with the ISO 20000 standard in order to facilitate the management of documentation flow. Currently, the system is still in the prototype phase. The document management system not only ensures the security and reliability of records, but also compliance with the procedures and deadlines for contractual and financial management imposed by the European Union.

Administration of government

Effective and efficient administration of government implies a capacity to make and co-ordinate policy at the centre of government, manage government records, and communicate both across the administration and with the population (cf. United Nations/World Bank, 2017). The development of a digital government approach can be instrumental to achieving this goal.

Making policy at the centre of government requires, among other tasks, the ability to collect, process and cross-reference data and statistics to inform the formulation of public policies. However, data and statistical data collection present particular challenges for PALOP-TL countries, as they do for developing countries elsewhere, as low and often unpredictable funding, combined with limited technical capacities, have resulted in irregular and low-quality data collection, weak systems and capacities for data analysis, and thus poor monitoring and evaluation of the effectiveness of public sector policies.

Based on the assessment undertaken, several recommendations can be made, for instance, Cabo Verde could develop applications and systems to archive, disseminate and grant access to statistical products and indicators by citizens and companies, available on an open, free and machine readable format; whereas Mozambique could implement similar initiatives in the context of the National Institute of Statistics, including the production of vital statistics.

In Timor-Leste, unlike the other countries of the PALOP-TL region, statistical data collection and management is the responsibility of Directorates General on Statistics and Policy and Research, which have enabled statistical data collection to benefit from the capabilities of the Ministry of Finance – one of the more capable ministries in government.

Managing government records and communicating both across the administration and with the population are tasks which can be accomplished more effectively and efficiently through the use of government digital communication mechanisms7, including telecommunication networks, government portals and email services, videoconferencing systems and database management systems, among other ICT, which can support varying public administrative functions.

However, in the PALOP-TL region, government telecommunication networks are largely non-extant (Guinea-Bissau and Sao Tome and Principe), or they function only at the level of central government (Angola8 and Mozambique9) (see Box 2.3). More recently, the Government of Timor-Leste has signed a contract with Timor Telecom (the largest telecommunications company operating in the country) for the supply, installation and configuration of the main domestic fibre optic network. The project will allow the interconnection between the administration of 12 municipalities and the data centre hosted at the prime minister's office, which, in the long run, will allow the government to have its own private communications network. Currently, Cabo Verde is the only country where such mechanisms are accessible at all levels of government (central and local)10.

Box 2.3. State private network (Angola)

In Angola, communication between various central government departments (G2G) is carried out through the state's private network (Rede Privativa do Estado), an intranet service that aims to reduce communication costs, ensure the security and privacy of communications and, in general, improve the efficiency of procedures.

To this end, the state's private network is based on a standard system of email addresses, video-conferencing and data and service sharing between government departments. It already interconnects 25 ministerial departments and is intended to be used in the future as a platform for citizens to access publicly available information via the Internet.

Source: Governo de Angola (2014). More information at

Every PALOP-TL country has a government portal11, and in Angola, Cabo Verde, Mozambique and Timor-Leste these exist in an integrated format, providing a single access point to the portals of the other ministries or agencies (see Section 4.3). Conversely, in Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Sao Tome and Principe, government email services are not widely used, and civil servants rely on their own private email accounts, which raises security and integrity risks.

The fact-finding mission observed a common trend in the general resistance to sharing government data between public departments, making it difficult to cross check government data or to create and maintain shared government databases (for example, between tax and social security services). Government departments also often demonstrated a resistance to hosting data in the government data centre (non-existent in Guinea-Bissau). These trends threaten or undermine the viability of strategic digital projects, such as the creation of a single identification number and the promotion of a data-driven public sector (see Section 4.2).

One of the persisting challenges developed and developing countries face when implementing digital government strategies is overcoming such atomised agency-centric approaches, and ensuring that the process is managed in an integrated and coherent way. In line with recommendation #6 of the OECD Recommendation on Digital Government Strategies (OECD, 2014), commonly agreed interoperability frameworks, data standards and the use and sharing of data centres act as important levers to support a coherent, efficient and sustainable digital transformation of the public sector.

Interoperability frameworks that are built upon common architecture and data standards enable ICT platforms to communicate among themselves and governments to better know and understand the needs of citizens and business, which can result in the simplification and tailoring of digital public services delivery.

Almost across the board, PALOP-TL countries are faced with the challenges of enabling the interoperability of their public platforms (Table 2.3).

Table 2.3. Interoperability framework in PALOP-TL countries


Initiatives undertaken


The government’s private network (Rede Privativa do Estado) connects government agencies and provides a common infrastructure for shared digital services across the public sector (see

Box 2.3). The network is considered an important first step for the development of an interoperability platform, which is a top priority of INFOSI, the national digital government agency. After a major investment in the government’s private network, the development of interoperable services and solutions would enhance the efficiency and connectivity of public administration and enable more integrated services delivery to business and citizens.

Cabo Verde

Common standards allowing information and data exchange are already adopted by several public platforms in the country. In addition, and with the objective of improving the confidentiality and security of communications between state services, Cabo Verde created a state-owned technology network that connects virtually all public sector entities, allowing them to access a range of services including email and government and municipal management applications. The Information Society Operational Unit (NOSI) has also developed and currently manages the IGRP (Integrated Government Resources Planning), a platform for the creation and management of electronic government solutions in a simple, safe, integrated, and sustainable way (see see Box 2.4).


The country hasn’t made much progress in the area of interoperability compared to other PALOP-TL countries. However, interoperability is a priority for the government and could begin with the audit of existing digital systems, and subsequent design and inter-agency negotiation of an interoperability roadmap.


The Interoperability Project (Projeto de Interoperabilidade) started in 2013 connecting different IT platforms with the central government. Nevertheless, further efforts are still needed in order to increase information and data exchange, including the adoption of interoperability standards and the development of a system-thinking culture across the different sectors and levels of government.

Sao Tome and Principe

The country hasn’t made much progress in the area of interoperability compared to other PALOP-TL countries. However, as in Guinea-Bissau, interoperability is a priority for the government and could begin with the audit of existing digital systems, and subsequent design and inter-agency negotiation of an interoperability roadmap.


The Ministry of Development and Institutional Reform, headed by the Prime Minister, provides and maintains an intranet service for the central administration, which includes data sharing, digital archive and database management. However, the maintenance of the network is inefficient and these services are not yet available to support communications between the central government and municipal administrations. In order to solve these problems, the National Connectivity Project aims to establish a separate Internet gateway for the government, improving the connectivity between Dili and the local administration offices and developing a root information system between the central government and municipal administrations.

Given the current situation, it is possible to conclude that while in Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome and Principe and Timor-Leste, the interoperability framework still does not exist (although, in Timor-Leste, steps have been taken towards creating a state communications network, which will sooner or later lead to the creation of an interoperability framework), an interoperability plan is underway in Angola and Mozambique. In Cabo Verde, common standards allowing information and data exchange have been adopted by several public platforms in the country.

The progressive integration of digital technologies into the public sector generates several common needs (e.g. hardware, software, services). The existence of shared services to respond to these common needs and generate economies of scale across the public sector is a helpful trend across the OECD member and partner countries. The most basic shared services adopted by PALOP-TL countries, except Guinea Bissau, are public data centres or data rooms capable of hosting, storing and managing information from different government institutions.

Box 2.4. IGRP - Integrated Government Resources Planning (Cabo Verde)

In response to the needs of citizens and businesses, NOSI (Information Society Operational Unit) developed the IGRP (Integrated Government Resources Planning) system. The IGRP system is an innovative model, created from scratch by NOSI, which is based on a unique, client-oriented technology platform that provides integrated packages of governance solutions with efficiency gains in the public sector, and improved transparency and accountability in government functions, as well as reducing costs in public administration. The IGRP bases its entire logic on the principle of "write once, read many", i.e. information (in particular for citizens and businesses) is not duplicated within the administration and can be accessed in an uninterrupted manner between departments.

Being delivered as a service model (PaaS), the platform allows public sector entities to use its services without having to deal with necessary ICT infrastructure. The progressive adoption of this platform by the public sector institutions of Cabo Verde allows an important integration of efforts, enabling the information systems from different sectors of government to better communicate and share information in an optimised way. Interoperability is, in this sense, one of the key benefits of IGRP.

Source: NOSi (2018), Framework IGRP – Integrated Government Resources Planning, Praia,

In Angola and Mozambique, the proliferation of data centres and data rooms is one of the key challenges identified to guarantee the security of public sector information, to optimise public digital infrastructures, and to secure an efficient use of the citizen and business data managed by the public administration. Responding to this scenario, both countries inaugurated public data centres (Angola in 2014 and Mozambique in 2015) but face now the challenge of developing services aligned with policy levers (see Section 3.4) that can better enforce the use of the data centre across the administrations.

Cabo Verde also faces this problem, however, the public data centre (available since 2015) has a very central role in the digital government policy of the country, and the services and applications managed by NOSI are totally integrated or aligned with this infrastructure. The IGRP solution (see Box 2.4) is based in the data centre and contributes to a strategic integration of digital government projects and initiatives in the country. The Government of Cabo Verde should continue improving its public data infrastructure, namely through the data centre, providing more and better services to public sector institutions12.

In Sao Tome and Principe and Timor-Leste, public data rooms are available and distributed across the public administration. Due to the lack of policies, initiatives and resources clearly allocated to improve this area, both countries also face the problem of public institutions using private national or international service providers to store public sector information. The sensitivity of public information, or even of citizens’ personal data, is strongly at risk due to the mentioned inexistence of a clear policy and mandate. Even basic services, such as email accounts used by public servants with professional purposes, are based on private and non-professionally oriented systems (e.g. Gmail). The absence of a national data centre is critical and identified by public stakeholders as a priority.

In Guinea-Bissau, there is an urgent need for a data centre to enable the sustainable digitalisation of the public sector and optimise the interoperability of the government’s information systems. Due to the very early stage of digitalisation of the country’s public administration, the digitalisation of public registers and processes is being made using frequently basic computer hard drives or external drives. The absence of a data centre compromises the efforts underway.

Although the six countries have significantly diverse situations, the need for shared, coherent and safe data infrastructure is recognised as a central requisite for the coherent and sustainable development digitalisation of the public sector13.

Based on the analysis undertaken in this section, it is possible to conclude that some digital solutions (indicative list) are currently being used in some PALOP-TL countries to support the administration of government (Figure 2.2).

Figure 2.2. Indicative list of ICT used to support the administration of government in PALOP-TL countries

Management of the civil service

Civil service management is a core function of government, and yet it is an immensely difficult area to reform, and an area where overambitious politics and poor sequencing have often hindered development efforts. The first task for a developing country government, particularly those countries at an earlier stage of development, is to account for the size and professional profile of civil servants (including their current professional category, remuneration and seniority, as well as their biographical record). This implies conducting civil service censuses, identification processes and professional skills audits – all of which are best achieved using digital technology14.

In Guinea-Bissau, the lack of knowledge about the number and designation of public workers has created considerable instability in payroll and pensions in recent years, and there are regular reports of workers, pensioners and their families receiving either undue or excessive payments for terminated contracts or even deceased workers. Despite the country having developed SIGHRAP (the Integrated Human Resources Management System of the Public Administration), this management system still lacks the necessary IT support tools, which means that it is therefore necessary and urgent to create a government database to enable a single payroll management system. The Government of Guinea-Bissau should give priority to digitising the public service registry in order to immediately stabilise the payroll and ensure government oversight and management of human resources. According to government officials, priority should be given to the rationalisation of security personnel (police and military), teachers and health professionals.

In order to tackle similar challenges, the governments of Angola and Mozambique have undertaken a process of collecting and storing biometric data on public administration workers to reduce the number of "ghost workers" and better manage the civil service payroll15. The challenge now is to keep the biometric database of civil servants updated and to avoid the need for constant identity checks. To this end, the Government of Angola could consider taking advantage of the new identity card features to store and automatically update the information on the life cycle of public administration employees.

Several PALOP-TL countries face problems of data sharing and management due to the poor integration and interoperability of human resource management information systems, or inconsistencies between them, although some countries have taken commendable steps to solve these challenges. In Cabo Verde, the Public Administration Human Resources Database allows for the sharing of information on civil servants. In Timor-Leste, the Personnel Management Information System combines an employee and manager portal, both of which are connected to a central database that provides managers with direct access to human resources data. These could both be experiences or models that other countries could learn from. Mozambique is currently developing a human resources management system that will integrate information on the entire life cycle of public administration employees. In Sao Tome and Principe, setting up a similar system is particularly important, notably to automate the process of authorising the payment of salaries of administration officials.

As countries begin to make the transition from e-government to digital government, there will also be a need to create a career path for ICT specialists (e.g. data analysts and scientists) to recognise this professional cadre and to provide adequate remuneration to ensure talent retention (see Section 3.6).

Local governance

Local governance can take many different forms, with varying degrees of administrative, fiscal and political autonomy. The steps for decentralisation often depend on the political and socio-economic context of the country and its level of development. Across PALOP-TL countries, different levels of political decentralisation (from democratic decentralisation in Cabo Verde, Mozambique and Sao Tome and Principe to administrative de-concentration in Angola, Guinea-Bissau and Timor-Leste) have directly influenced the variable needs and capacities for local government in the areas of planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of public policies, programmes or projects, and their impacts, at the local level.

Irrespective of the model of decentralisation adopted, across the board in PALOP-TL countries there is a general need to use digital technologies to improve the links between central government and local administrations in order to facilitate the flow of information between different levels of government – which ultimately serves to ensure the better definition of public policies and to ensure that the government is more responsive to the needs of its citizens.

Based on a common technological base, the government of Angola is using SIIGAT (Sistema Integrado de Informação e Gestão de Administração do Território - Integrated Territorial Administration Information and Management System) for the collection, data processing and information management of local government bodies, which is part of a strategy, led by the Ministry of Territorial Administration, towards the modernisation and technical, technological and organisational capacity building of the provincial governments and the municipal administrations ( Currently, the Government of Angola aims to improve the performance of SIIGAT in order to collect indicators of public policy performance at the local level.

As mentioned above, Cabo Verde is making use of SIM (Sistema de Informação Municipal – Municipal Information System) to facilitate information flows between the central administration and the municipalities, and among the municipalities themselves.

In Mozambique, effective decentralisation of land-use management instruments is limited to some districts, municipalities and provincial geographical and cadastral services (Serviços Provinciais de Geografia e Cadastro). This constraint affects the public services capability of districts in land-use planning, land management and cadastral services. However, experience from other countries (e.g. Cabo Verde) shows that the delivery and management of cadastral services (including geo-referencing capabilities and technologies – see Box 2.5) is a crucial factor in attracting national and foreign investment projects into regional and local levels, particularly in the area of agriculture and tourism (OECD, 2018).

Box 2.5. IDE-CV Spatial Data Infrastructure (Cabo Verde)

The Spatial Data Infrastructure of Cabo Verde (IDE-CV) is a technological platform created with the objective of making available (for publication or consultation) resources on the existing geo-referenced geo-spatial data for the public and the private sectors. The IDE-CV follows the standards defined by the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC).

Among others, IDE-CV's objectives are to promote the production and updating of geo-spatial data by the various public agencies, municipalities and private entities, and to enable rapid identification and free access to the geospatial data services.

More information available at

Notwithstanding these exceptional cases, in the PALOP-TL region, local governments still find it difficult to ensure administrative public tasks are completed efficiently and effectively because they lack adequate human, financial and technical capacities, and in many cases, because they have not yet developed an appreciable sense of the potential for data and digital technologies.

Using digital technologies to deliver government downstream functions

Enabling effective and efficient public service delivery is a challenge for all PALOP-TL countries, even among the more advanced economies of the cluster. A review of the six PALOP TL countries has shown that there are at least three key areas in which the use of digital technologies could help: 1) through the digitisation of public records (civil, criminal); 2) in the development of identification and registration systems for service users; and 3) in the delivery of public services where otherwise the government would not have the administrative capabilities.

The use of digital solutions to improve the provision of services to populations and businesses in the PALOP-TL region has perhaps been most visible in the physical preservation of public records (civil and criminal) – as evidenced in Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome and Principe and Timor-Leste – and in their gradual digitisation, creating the basis for the civil, legal and proprietary rights of citizens and companies, and securing these rights or interests against all others.

The maintenance and digitisation of registries is often seen as the bedrock of effective public services delivery, and a foundation for digital transformation. It is not possible to develop an integrated strategy for improved public services delivery without first collecting, digitising, processing, sharing and cross-referencing the data available on citizens and companies in the civil and business registries. To this end, the World Bank launched the Identification for Development (ID4D) initiative, aimed at helping countries design solutions and implement new systems to increase the number of people with official identification (World Bank, 2018).

In line with the above, in Cabo Verde, the computerisation and digitisation of registries and notaries – a process started in 2005 – is a central component for digital government in the country. Currently, the full digitalisation of commercial and vehicle records is still ongoing under the Project of Support to Improvement in Quality and Proximity of Public Services of PALOP and Timor-Leste (PASP/PALOP-TL), an intervention co-financed by the European Union and Portugal, and implemented by the Portuguese Development Agency, Camões, I.P. PASP is also present in Guinea-Bissau where priority has been given to the organisation of the physical archives, followed by the digitisation of civil, land and vehicle registration documents, since registration processes are still manual. In Sao Tome and Principe, several digital registers are currently under development (citizen registry, business registry, property registry, land registry, vehicle registry, and others). The government, also aligned with PASP, has begun the computerisation of the civil and notary registry, which includes the digitisation and cataloguing of 360 000 birth, marriage and death registers, and the development of an integrated file management system. This project will greatly facilitate citizen interaction with public administration services, such as social security, health services or educational establishments. In Timor-Leste, a Demography Information Management System has been established through the same Project, in which the Ministry of Justice intends to store and manage the information related to civil registries, passports, identity cards, criminal records and electoral cards (OECD, 2018).

Alongside efforts undertaken to digitalise records, many PALOP-TL countries are also taking steps to ensure the further provision of registration services. This is the case in Guinea-Bissau, where commercial registers have been computerised (see Box 2.6).

In Timor-Leste, the biggest challenge is in the register of land and property (currently non-existent). To this end, geographic cadaster is a priority, since without this data it is not possible to set up a public register of land and property. The Spatial Data Infrastructure of Cabo Verde (see Box 2.5) could serve as a model for the geographic cadaster in Timor-Leste.

Full digitalisation of civil registries has created the necessary conditions to cross-reference and interconnect citizen identification systems (civil and electoral identification, taxpayer numbers, etc.), but also to simplify procedures and enhance service delivery efficiencies. In most PALOP-TL countries, the ultimate goal is to create a single citizen identification card (which already exist in Angola and Cabo Verde) and a digital identity framework to support the delivery of public services transactions (see Section 4.2). Both initiatives could decrease operational costs, expedite procedures and improve data sharing among public service departments.

Box 2.6. Digitisation of commercial registers: The case of RCCM-OHADA (Guinea-Bissau)

RCCM (Registre du Commerce et du Crédit Mobilier) is an integrated system that enables Guinea-Bissau to have reliable information and real statistics on business creation and activity. The RCCM-OHADA is constructed as a pyramid: at the base, local registers are kept in the registry of the competent jurisdiction, or by a body designated by the state; information from the different registers is centralised in a national file; and at the top of the pyramid, the regional file, kept with the CCJA (Common Court of Justice and Arbitration), ensures the centralisation of information recorded in the national files. Complete digitisation enables the preservation and disclosure of reliable and up-to-date information, in real time and in electronic format, for all stakeholders and companies. The purpose of this information sharing is to promote the transparency of business environment in the OHADA member states.

More information available at

In Angola, improved public services delivery has been supported by the standardisation of citizen identification numbers. The new identity card (bilhete de identidade), launched in 2017, represents a significant legal and technical step forward as it stores information on the civil identification number, taxpayer number, social security number, birth certificate, and voter card number. In the medium term, the government's plan is to merge the taxpayer number and the identity card number (OECD, 2018). Adopting a digital identity framework will allow for the sharing of information and data between various entities, facilitating the provision of services to citizens (see Section 4.2).

In Cabo Verde, the new Cartão Nacional de Identificação (National Identification Card), which was launched in 2018, is an initiative of the National System of Identification and Civil Authentication (the central and transversal management system of identification and civil authentication). Following the launch of the new Cartão Nacional de Identificação (which integrates data on civil, tax, social security and electoral identification of the cardholder) (see Section 4.2) and the electronic passport, the Cabo Verdean authorities now envisage the progressive development of an integrated database as a platform for the development of an automatic voting registration system (potentially conducive to the creation of an electronic voting system).

In Guinea-Bissau and Sao Tome and Principe, the administration has made some progress in the identification systems and registries, adopting minimum conditions for the issuing of biometric passports, driving licenses and identity cards.

Regarding Mozambique and Timor-Leste, one of the major problems in the provision of public services lies in the deficiencies of the citizen identification system. While in Mozambique, the proliferation of parallel and non-interoperable identifier numbers have been hampering government capacity to develop a sound identification system, in Timor-Leste, the majority of the population does not yet have an identity card (although the EU-funded PASP PALOP-TL project has created conditions for a substantial extension of the identity card network), and citizens are using voter cards as an alternative. In addition, several Timorese public services have recently developed their own identification systems in a non-interoperable way (electoral commission, civil registry, tax administration, social security, etc.), thus missing the opportunity of building from the start integrated public base registers.

Digital technologies have also been playing a crucial role in the delivery of public services where otherwise the government would not have the capabilities to do so. This is namely the case of the provision of healthcare services, especially at the local level, where there are often no medical specialists or equipment available to meet the needs of the population.

In Angola, the Ministry of Health decided to develop a national telemedicine network through the creation of telemedicine units in strategic locations to enable distance education and tele-expertise activities, using software adapted to local conditions. Cabo Verde has also been investing in training and telemedicine equipment to mitigate the constraints caused by the limited number of doctors and medical diagnostic equipment. The national telemedicine service has enabled medical consultations by videoconference, namely in the areas of medicine where there are no specialists, except in the main hospitals (see Section 4.3).

In Sao Tome and Principe, an important telemedicine project was developed, based on an interface that can be connected to any laptop and medical equipment, allowing images, as well as the patient’s summary to be transferred to an online environment. This information can be shared with doctors in different geographies, enabling the exams to be analyzed by specific medical specialists. In practice, setting medical appointments, uploading clinical files and exams and manipulating them directly, as well as direct patient-doctor contact, are possible with a regular computer with a simple internet connection (1 MB). The project was developed by Marquês de Valle Flôr Institute and funded by Camões –Institute for Cooperation and Language, I.P. Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, within the broader Program “Health for all”, in partnership with the Ministry of Health of Sao Tome and Principe.

In Timor-Leste, the provision of healthcare services relies exclusively on non-digital solutions, especially in rural areas where ICT use is infrequent. For this reason, the government has established partnerships with international and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to support the computerisation of services, promoting the proximity, quality and efficiency of service delivery. One such organisation is Catalpa, an NGO that has been developing applications aimed at improving the quality and speed at which rural communities access health services. This is the case of the Liga Inan project, which is using mobile phones to connect expectant mothers with health providers to improve the likelihood of a healthy pregnancy, birth and post-natal period (see Box 2.7).

Box 2.7. The Liga Inan project (Timor-Leste)

Officially launched in March 2013, Liga Inan is implemented by Health Alliance International (HAI) and Catalpa International, in partnership with the Ministry of Health.

Liga Inan cuts across geographic barriers to directly connect women to better health care in a country with high maternal and neonatal mortality. Health providers use a mobile phone to register expectant mothers, track their progress, know when they go into labour and make arrangements for attending the delivery. Mothers continue to receive support through the first six weeks of the newborn's life.

Liga Inan also sends automated promotional health information via SMS to all registered pregnant mothers throughout their pregnancy and for six months after delivery to help them make better decisions about their pregnancy and link them with regular pre and post-natal care.

More information available at

The education sector also faces several challenges, which sometimes can only be circumvented through the use of digital solutions. In Angola, the Ministry of Education has been implementing an ambitious project called "Meu Kamba", which consists of the installation and usage of technological tools in classrooms through access to interactive content, videos, exercises and other tools available on computers. The project intends to benefit schools countrywide and is targeted at teachers and students from the fifth and sixth grades (cf. Cabo Verde has been implementing a similar project called “Mundo Novu” ( Both projects intend to ensure the access and usage of pedagogical content by teachers and students that could otherwise not be used. In Sao Tome and Principe, the Solar Schools’ project (Escolas Solares), implemented by TESE (an NGO working in the areas of energy and water supply), used standardised photovoltaic solutions for lighting classrooms and delivering power supply for school management activities in over 30 public primary schools countrywide, thus allowing the delivery of adult literacy courses after working hours and the use of computers and other ICT. In Timor-Leste, Catalpa developed an online communication chat system called “Conversa”, through which school principals working in the most remote areas can present their claims to the Ministry of Education on the schools’ physical condition and other logistical problems.

Diagnosing results

The particular added value in the use of digital technologies to administer or fill gaps in the delivery of core functions of government across PALOP-TL countries can be seen in their ability to help governments leapfrog particular stages of development, for example, in the quality and coverage of public services delivery.

Overall, the adoption of digital technologies provides immediate and much needed help to raise taxes and revenues and manage human resources, and serves to build trust between citizens and the state by rendering the government more accessible.

In spite of the efforts undertaken by the PALOP-TL countries to install and develop digital PFM systems, its usage has shown uneven results. Frequently, highly sophisticated applications coexist with manual, paper-based procedures, especially at the level of budgeting, revenue collection and procurement procedures.

Some countries have already begun to develop electronic public procurement systems, thus ensuring the necessary efficiency and transparency in the awarding procedures. Others have created doorstep conditions for the settlement and payment of taxes by electronic means, alongside analogue mechanisms, thus enabling a greater capacity to collect fees and tax revenues. All countries in the PALOP-TL region are using automated systems for the settlement, collection and payment of customs duties and other taxes, as well as customs clearance. This is an exceptional situation that may be explained by the need (often imposed by multilateral organisations) for countries to use standardised customs management systems to ensure and expedite international transactions.

The diagnosis also presents uneven, if not paradoxical, results concerning governmental communication systems and networks, as it was possible to testify within the same country the coexistence of complex state owned telecommunication networks and the usage of private email accounts by state officials, raising security and integrity risks.

There appears to be widespread recognition of the enormous usefulness of using digital solutions to collect, store and cross reference data on the human resources of public administration, with the aim of quantifying the number of workers and pensioners, and thus avoiding the risk of paying undue wages and pensions. In some countries, the collection of biometric data is essential for ensuring the accurate identification and quantification of public officers, generating considerable savings.

Much more needs to be done to bridge the distance between the local and central levels of governments, although some countries have developed very efficient communication systems to facilitate information flows between the central administration and the local authorities.

There is a common ground of understanding shared by all PALOP-TL governments around the need to preserve and digitise public records (civil, criminal, commercial, etc.) as a basic precondition to further process, share and cross reference data on citizens and companies. This is deemed as essential for creating credible identification systems and supporting the efficient delivery of public services transactions.

Health and education sectors have also been using ICT to ensure the provision of a service that the government would otherwise not be able to provide. The combination of the appropriate IT solutions (from telemedicine units and video conference systems, to computers and mobile phones) and training programmes involving doctors, patients, teachers and students, together with the establishment of partnerships with international organisations and NGOs to support service delivery, especially in the most remote areas, have shown an enormous flexibility and capacity to assist governments to deliver basic services and leapfrog particular stages of development.


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← 1. Measure already implemented through the creation of TIC Timor, the Timorese digital government agency.

← 2. The National Long-Term Development Plan. The new National Development Plan (2018-2022) has recently been approved (Ministério da Economia e Planeamento/Governo de Angola, 2018). It is the National Mid-Term Development Plan and it aims to implement the long-term strategic development options contained in the Angola 2025 Long-Term Strategy (which, in turn, should be reviewed and extended by 2050).

← 3. The former Administrative Reform Program (PREA) has been implemented from 2000 to 2016.

← 4. According to the OECD (2003), Public Financial Management (hereinafter PFM) can be defined as the set of laws, rules, systems and processes which cover “all phases of the budget cycle, including the preparation of the budget, internal control and audit, procurement, monitoring and reporting arrangements, and external audit”. Strong PFM systems are essential for effective and sustainable economic management and public service delivery. It is a lever to broader country development, to raising revenues effectively, planning and executing budget decisions reliably and transparently, and to building trust for donors and investors (CIPFA, 2009). In fact, states are effective and accountable when they are underpinned by good PFM institutions and systems. PFM is at the core of the government's administrative performance – without it, the state becomes unviable.

← 5. The design of Tradenet was based on the Singapore model, also deployed in Ghana and Madagascar. The system has two main components: Customs Management System (CMS), and TradeNet electronic data interchange.

← 6. In the broader context of budgetary transparency, see the "Recommendation of the Council on Budgetary Governance" (OECD, 2015), accessible at and the “OECD Budget Transparency Toolkit” (OECD, 2017b), accessible at

← 7. Telecommunications (e.g. satellite and fibre optic networks, document management systems, email services, portals) are important tools for enabling communications and document management in government departments which, in turn, can facilitate better co-ordination and collaboration with the public.

← 8. Rede Privativa do Estado (State Private Network).

← 9. GovNet.

← 10. Rede Tecnológica Privativa do Estado (State Private Technological Network).

← 11. During the drafting of the current report, the Government portal of Guinea-Bissau was offline.

← 12. According to the feedback received from several stakeholders during the fact-finding mission undertaken in Cabo Verde, NOSI should continue its efforts to reduce the fees that institutions are required to pay to benefit from this infrastructure and assure that it constitutes a stimulus, not an obstacle through unbalanced competition, to digital private service providers in the country.

← 13. The governments of the region should prioritise the development of these infrastructures, enabling its use as a shared service for the administrations. Based also on the experience of the most advanced countries of the region in this specific domain (Angola. Cabo Verde and Mozambique), the construction of public data centres should be assumed as the first step towards more sustainable data management. Attractive business models and effective policy levers (see Section 3.4) are required to secure their effective use.

← 14. For a more advanced phase of the core government functions development process, see the following OECD reports on strategic human resources management, merit-based recruitment and promotion, performance management, capable leadership, gender and inclusiveness: “Skills for a High Performing Civil Service” (OECD, 2017), accessible at, “Government at a Glance 2017” (OECD, 2017), accessible at, and “Public Servants as Partners for Growth” (OECD, 2011), accessible at

← 15. “Governo reduz custos com salários de trabalhadores da função pública”, in “Mercado” (29/07/2016), “They missed proof of life: 31 000 workers at risk of losing salaries in Mozambique”, in “Club of Mozambique” (04/07/2016),”

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