ICT is an ideal tool for good governance

The trials and tribulations in Kenya and Zimbabwe demonstrated just how perceptions of election outcome are crucial to peace and stability in Africa. In what could well turn out to be the standard of electoral transparency on the continent, Rwanda’s parliamentary polls held last year gave us an opportunity to demonstrate a tool that sheds more light on the election process.

The trials and tribulations in Kenya and Zimbabwe demonstrated just how perceptions of election outcome are crucial to peace and stability in Africa.

In what could well turn out to be the standard of electoral transparency on the continent, Rwanda’s parliamentary polls held last year gave us an opportunity to demonstrate a tool that sheds more light on the election process.

During Rwanda’s parliamentary polls, television viewers were surprised that Rwanda TV could bring live feeds of what was going on in different locations. It covered a few locations due to an embryonic fiber and VSAT network, which are operational in those locations. 

If everything goes as planned with the rollout of the fiber optic countrywide, we shall be capable of streaming live feeds from all the 30 districts during the 2010 presidential elections and in other future elections.

With a complete infrastructure in place, in 2010, the whole world should be able to follow our presidential elections live. That will be a great tool for good governance since the entire election process is one of the most sensitive issues in Africa.

The first pillar of Rwanda’s vision 2020 is to build systems for good governance and to build a state that runs and manages public resources efficiently thereby driving the country’s development.

One of the key areas that need to be looked at is how ICT can support other efforts geared towards good governance within government.

This requires deployment of various applications and for this to be possible, skills development and a national backbone infrastructure is key. 

The majority of the projects and programs being undertaken are intended to bring enhancement and efficiency into government. For instance, ICTs have been deployed to ease the management of budgets in the public sector down to the district level.

This has reduced the reporting time for finance officers and resulted in more effective management of the national budget.

Previously, Rwandan identifications records were made and kept at a local level. That meant that if somebody changed location, the record was left at the point of original.

Under Rwanda’s new generation ID, all these records have now been digitized and stored in a central data base.

This is a great leap forward for the country and its citizens because a lot of government services are tied to identification.

Having positive identification brings efficiency gains in service delivery as it reduces time spent in verifying an individual’s identification.

An example is the processing of travel documents that currently takes nine days for a national passport. That is still an incredibly short time but a lot of that time is spent just verifying the applicant.

That period could be reduced to fewer days as it will now be possible to quickly verify one’s identity by querying the national database and using the individual’s biometric (finger printer) for authentication.

So ideally, you could move from 10 days to 2 days timeline for issuing a passport. That is efficiency.

The author works with RDB-IT

ensekanabo@gmail.com  

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