Citizen participation is considered as one of the hall marksof democracy dating far back into early forms of representative government.Participation are means used by the public to have their voices and ideasincluded in decision making in matters affecting their livelihoods1. It aimsto bridge the gap between citizens and governments by providing avenues throughwhich citizens are engaged in public decision making, avenues by whichinformation is disseminated to them and avenues by which they engage thegovernment in meaningful consultations. Citizen participation is a form ofparticipatory democracy and indeed many governments across the world strive touphold democracy2. Milakovich notes that participatory democracy impliescitizens being involved in governmental decision making and should beencouraged and expected3.
He notes that citizen participation exists invarious forms including providing information to citizens and gettinginformation from them, involving citizens in public decision making andproviding means for citizen consultation4. Public participation is a political principle that lies atthe heart of the Constitution of Pakistan 2010. The constitution providesvarious regulations that serve to ensure citizen participation is upheld5.The Constitution in Article 35 grants allows citizens by virtue of right toaccess information held by state agencies. With information from the state itfollows that citizens will be more aware of government activities, the servicesit offers, how public utilities and monies are spent and many others. Theconstitution also requires that counties promote participation in all processeswithin a county6.
When ICTs are used to promote citizen participation, the newconcept is referred to as Electronic participation (E-participation). ICT isviewed as having the ability to empower people in relation to citizenparticipation. E-participation allows individuals who cannot access thegovernment agencies and public officials for purposes of getting information,giving information and making their voices heard or influencing decision makingto do so7. These individuals, who in the traditional forms of participatione.g. public meetings were considered to be otherwise invisible and silent, getan opportunity to be visible and to be heard.
E-participation therefore has thepotential to reveal the diversity of the society voice and range of opinions.This potential benefit of e-participation is the driving factor for itsadoption by various countries8.