Use and deployment of the new Information and Communications Technology (ICT) has been rapidly growing since the early 1990s. While the initial focus of the so-called "ICT revolution" was on infrastructure deployment and connectivity, a critical shift has now taken place.
While most developing countries still face, to various degrees, serious access challenges, the focus is now on the deployment and use of specific ICT applications and to address traditional development problems and challenges.
A surge in the use of ICTs by government, civil society and the private sector started in the late 1990s with the aim not only of improving government efficiency and service delivery but also to promote increase participation of citizens in the various governance and democratic processes.
The use of ICT in the overall field democratic governance activities relates to three distinct areas where UNDP has already been doing innovative work to support the achievement of the MDGs.
First, e-governance which encompasses the use of the ICT tool to enhance both government efficiency, transparency, accountability and service delivery, and citizen participation and engagement in the various democratic and governance processes.
Second, the mainstreaming of ICT into the various UNDP Democratic Governance Practice service lines such as Parliaments (e-parliaments), elections (e-elections) and others.
And third, the governance of the new ICT which addresses the institutional mechanisms related to emerging issues of privacy, security, censorship and control of the means of information and communications at the national and global levels.
Although e-governance is a new dedicated sub-practice area of UNDP, the organization's support for e-governance related services predates the creation of the dedicated sub-practice and builds upon the pioneering work that UNDP has done since 1992. The bulk of this work has focused on providing support to governments and civil society organizations (CSOs) in using ICT to deliver better public services and enhance the participation and involvement on citizens through networking in the various governance-related processes and issues.