Rwanda to host Commonwealth e-Governance forum

At least 200 information and telecommunication policymakers, members of academia and private sector players from Commonwealth nations will, next week, meet in Kigali for an Electronic Governance forum organised by the Ministry of Youth and ICT and Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation.
Software developers at K-Lab, an ICT hub, in Kigali.  (Timothy Kisambira)
Software developers at K-Lab, an ICT hub, in Kigali. (Timothy Kisambira)

At least 200 information and telecommunication policymakers, members of academia and private sector players from Commonwealth nations will, next week, meet in Kigali for an Electronic Governance forum organised by the Ministry of Youth and ICT and Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation.

The two-day conference, scheduled to open on March 24, comes at a time when Rwanda is entering the last five years of its Vision 2020, whose target is to transform the country from an agriculture-driven into a knowledge-based economy with convenient service provision through electronic governance.

E-Governance is the employment of technology in providing efficient service to citizens and easing government’s role.

The forum also comes during the first phase of the institution of Rwanda Online Platform, which aims at making all government services available online for improved service delivery.

The platform will be made possible courtesy of a partnership between the government and a private firm, Rwanda Online Platform Limited.

The first phase of the initiative kicked off last year in August with 10 select institutions expected to be automated by May.

The conference, dubbed “Commonwealth e-Governance Africa Summit 2015,” will be held under the theme, “Smart Governance through a Networked Government.”

Exploring e-Governance potential

Officials from the ICT ministry said the forum will avail an opportunity to explore enormous contributions of e-Government on socio-economic transformation of the people.

Didier Nkurikiyimfura, the director-general of ICT at the Ministry of Youth and ICT, said the forum will provide a chance to showcase Rwanda’s progress in regard to e-Governance as well as learn from other countries and stakeholders.

“We already have a number of private sector players who have been involved in the development of e-Governance systems. The forum will be a good avenue for them to showcase their work to our sister countries with the hope of landing business opportunities,” Nkurikiyimfura said.

He noted that the forum was timely because the country is in the process of boosting existing e-Governance systems for improved service delivery.

“The stakeholders will evaluate progress made, take into account lessons learnt and share best practices with other countries that are keen on e-Governance,” Nkurikiyimfura said.

Delegates are expected to deliberate on; ways of achieving next generation government, implementation of strategies, government business process re-engineering, ICT investment in local government, and accessible governance.

Robert Ford, the chief executive of Filmax Web Technologies Ltd, an ICT firm involved in the development of e-Governance system, said that the forum was important for the country’s e-Governance development process as it would provide an opportunity to evaluate progress thus far and to determine the way forward.

Filmax Web Technologies has also developed electronic governance systems in Uganda and will soon begin operations in South Sudan.

Ford noted that the nation’s e-Governance platform had come a long way in an attempt to make service delivery efficient.

“This conference is timely and Rwanda should be able to use the opportunity to evaluate the milestones achieved in trying to realise the ambitions,” Ford told The New Times.

Having built more than 90 per cent of Rwanda’s online presence, Ford said the government had come a long way in recent years with view to improving service delivery.

“In 2005, Rwanda government’s web presence was less than 15 per cent, today it is more than 90 per cent, you can get almost all government services online, what they haven’t been able to do is design applications that become a self service tool for citizens which Rwanda Online platform is currently working on,” he said.

Ford said among the issues that should be deliberated at the forum that are of importance to the country at the moment include putting in place policies and regulations that will allow for online payments when acquiring government services.

Rwanda is currently working to leverage latest ICT capabilities such analytics, social media, mobility, among others, to deliver transparent, efficient, citizen centric and accountable governance.

Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) is an international body based in London which is engaged in multilateral collaboration of ICTs and uses its experience and expertise to support its members in integrating ICTs to deliver interventions that enrich people within the Commonwealth and beyond.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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