More than a year into EDPRS II, public officials and the public agree almost in equal measure that the road to better service delivery — the second priority area in the five-year program — remains rough and winding.
Launched in May 2013, EDPRS II (the second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy) outlines service delivery as the second most important area under the thematic area of Accountable Governance that must be tackled to propel the country to middle income status by 2020. Rwanda is targeting this area to improve its standing as a regional hub of excellence for service or customer care.
But excellent service delivery benchmarks cannot be attained overnight, public officials say, as they insist that some considerable progress has been made in the past 14 months.
The public (consumers of services), are however impatient and have expressed continued dissatisfaction with the quality of services the private and to some extent public sector.
One of those unhappy with the quality of services in the public sector is Johnson Rukundo, a PhD candidate in economics at Jonkoping University, in Sweden.
“Service delivery is talked about and everyone in these big corporate companies but the real practice is still far below the expected rate… Most only focus on how many clients come in, and not what the clients really want. Imagine that in most restaurants, food is served only from12h00-14h00, meaning that at 16h00 or 17h00, one cannot have food,” he pointed out.
For Jovani Ntabgoba, a Kigali resident, time management is the problem that must be fixed quickly.
“Time is still a major challenge in delivery of services in both public and private institutions. There is need to tag every service—from food in a restaurant to a bank loan—to time. All services must have a time frame. For example, on the menu, say, chips and chicken: 30minutes.”
EDPRSII wants to usher in a culture of efficient and effective service delivery in both public and private sectors to accelerate progress towards development targets set out in Vision 2020. Rwanda, it is noted, takes the issue of service delivery seriously in recognition of the fact that public service delivery is the most important function of government officials, who must be accountable to the citizens that they are employed to serve.
But some sections of the public say public institutions need to rise up to the occasion quickly in sectors such as health.
“Some hospitals prohibit [food from outside the hospital] yet offer a uniform oily diet with three square meals. The food doesn’t suit patients with special needs. Medical procedures like timely administration are not followed, and the word emergency lost its meaning since you don’t get attention if you still show some [sign of] life. Hospital staff should be trained to be proactive in any situation and demonstrate concern or hospitality,” a Kigali resident on condition of anonymity.
According to the Director General of territorial administration and governance in the Ministry of Local Government (Minaloc), Fred Mufuruke, improving service delivery is “a process and cannot be achieved overnight.”
He said that some progress has been made; such as training of over 500 people, including sector executive secretaries and directors at provincial and district levels, on good leadership, ethics and values.
“Experts from Singapore conducted the training. All this was in the spirit of delivering good services to our people. It entails many things, such as listening to people properly. This [training] was the most vibrant but similar ones will be done at lower levels.”
Service delivery inspections in public and private institutions have also been conducted by Minaloc, Mifotra, Rwanda Development Board, Rwanda Governance Board and the Private Sector Federation.
According to the EDPRS2 implementation unit in Minecofin, service charters and citizen report cards are being used to track performance indicators that measure progress in service delivery. Districts commit to improve and track service delivery, yearly, in their performance contract, (Imihigo).
With regards to capacity building, Mifotra has hired Korea Institute of Public Administration (KIPA) to train senior public officials under the theme; “Leading a Highly Performing Government in Rwanda.”
The training was conducted in Kigali, from July 21 to 25, the main objective being to create a platform and a framework that would enable Rwanda civil service leaders and top managers enhance efficiency and effectiveness.
Dr. Félicien Usengumukiza, RGB Deputy CEO in charge of Governance Research and Monitoring, said EDPRS II was targeting 85 per cent level of satisfaction in service delivery for citizens. In 2012, he said, citizen satisfaction [of service delivery] was at 70 per cent.
He noted that unfortunately some indicators in the citizen report card had diminished. “This may not be because local government is no longer providing better services, but because citizens are becoming more demanding in terms of quality services,” he said.
“Take the case of electricity; years ago, people in rural areas did not consider electricity as a priority, but now it is one of their major priorities,” Usengumukiza said.
He added that RGB recommended that every public institution have a competent service delivery officer. Such an officer’s job description, he explained, will include being responsive, and ensuring that appropriate facilities such as “waiting rooms,” are in place, as well as information and hotlines.
“Our target and ambition is to transform Rwanda into a regional service hub. You cannot be a service hub in the region while at the same time you are poor in service delivery.”