Rwanda plans to have over 400 more services digitised on Irembo – an online portal that serves as a gateway to different government services – by June 2024, with a view to ensuring efficiency in responding to citizens’ needs, according to the Ministry of ICT and Innovation. The development intends to enable Rwandan residents to access more services electronically, reducing the time and transport costs they would incur while seeking them at various physical offices. Today, 103 services are digitised on Irembo, according to data from the Ministry. ALSO READ: Irembo further eases online public services delivery Speaking to The New Times, the Minister of ICT and Innovation, Paula Ingabire, said over 400 services are being re-designed and digitalised, under a project estimated to cost over $12 million (about Rwf13 billion). During a session on ICT development with the Senate held on June 1, the Minister said that the process started in March this year, with the identification of the services in question, and is expected to be completed in June next year. The amenities, she said, are across different sectors such as forest services, livestock movement, licenses to open and operate a health facility, import permits, research permits, and various Rwanda Utilities and Regulatory Authority (RURA) licenses. Others are various documents issued at village, cell, and sector levels, accreditation and inspection services, payment of certain specific services like cemetery fees, cleaning fees, and market fees, and provision of laboratory analysis services at the National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB), to mention but a few, she said. ALSO READ: Irembo, a digital services afro champion becomes a member of the Smart Africa Alliance The move is in line with the government’s target of digitising all of its services by 2024, under the first phase of the National Strategy for Transformation (NST1). According to Ingabire, the next phase of digitisation will be transformational in terms of re-designing and digitising all remaining manual services, “enabling time efficiency and removing unnecessary costs and processes that come with paperwork or transport as citizens make trips to different government offices.” Meanwhile, she said, it’s worth noting that since 2015, Irembo registered enormous achievements. Irembo CEO Israel Bimpe told senators on June 1 that the portal employs 7,700 agents in different parts of the country who facilitate residents to access services, adding that there are over 1,500 government officers who use it to approve and offer the needed services. “We have so far processed over 25 million service applications/transactions since Irembo started operating [in 2015], whereby over 100 million working hours were saved, for both officials and Rwandan residents that would be otherwise spent on transport or other factors that would delay service delivery in the absence of the technology,” he said. ALSO READ: Citizens can now get e-provisional driver's license through Irembo Furthermore, Minister Ingabire said that Irembo helped the government to collect more than Rwf300 billion in fees paid for various services, which she described as something to appreciate because it ensures the monitoring of revenues into the national treasury. She pointed out that the payment methods used are cashless, and dominated by mobile money. “This next phase looks to build on previous achievements to create a more sustainable service experience for citizens, ease of government operations, but also allow the local technology companies to contribute,” she observed. Speeding up the process, leveraging digital ID Minister Ingabire indicated that Irembo 3.0, which is a new platform on which the current manual services will be digitised and integrated, will offer a one-stop directory to access hundreds of services, apply and pay conveniently. Additionally, she pointed out, the 3.0 portal which is a no/low code platform, will offer immense capabilities for government entities to on-board and launch new services in hours as opposed to the traditional approaches that took long periods of development. No/low-code is a rapid application development approach that enables automated code generation through the use of visual tools and techniques, allowing developers to drag and drop application components, connect them together, and create mobile or web apps. They reduce or eliminate the need for traditional methods that require writing code line by line. Bimpe said, “Currently it takes us about two or three months to put one service on Irembo. What we want is that it takes a few hours.” The Minister said this comes at a time when the government is launching another complementary digital ID initiative, “hence digitisation will usher in a complete end-end experience.” ALSO READ: Digital IDs bill gets Parliamentary green light While Irembo has made strides towards digitising services and enhancing citizen experience, Ingabire observed, often, there have been challenges where certain services still require making trips to sector offices or require to submit multiple supporting documents every time citizens need those services, Ingabire remarked. “Irembo 3.0 will leverage the power and capabilities of digital ID to offer a seamless experience to citizens,” she said. Meanwhile, Minister Ingabire said the government is putting more effort into ensuring internet speed, reliability, and affordability to enable easy access to services via Irembo across the country.