As public servants and other citizens across the continent celebrate the Africa Public Service Day, today, delegates gathered in Kigali as part of events to mark the day have urged governments to leverage recent advancements in ICTs to improve service delivery.
The call was made on the second day of the ongoing three-day meeting organised to mark the Africa Public Service Day on the continental level.
Panelists at yesterday’s discussions emphasised that citizens across Africa need to be conversant with ICTs and that their governments need to create conducive environments for them to both innovate to use and provide digitally delivered services.
The Minister for Youth and ICT, Jean-Philbert Nsengimana, said at the panel that leveraging ICTs to deliver quality public services requires the task of digitising citizens’ experience in the pursuit of services.
It also requires digitally empowering the public service workforce so they can deliver the services using ICTs, the minister said, noting the need to train citizens to ensure that they are able to use digital services provided to them.
However, Nsengimana emphasised that none of the above is possible without access to connectivity by the population across the continent.
“One of the big tasks that we have to do in Africa is to make sure that our people are connected and we need to think Pan-African while doing this,” he said, urging African states to work together to build an efficient ICT infrastructure.
Celebrated on June 23 annually by African Union (AU) member states, the Africa Public Service Day is also marked every two years at a continental level and hosted by one of AU member countries.
The event at the continental level in Kigali is being held under the theme, “Entrenching a citizen-centred service delivery culture: partnering with the youth for Africa’s transformation.”
‘ICT for potholes’
Matodzi Amisi, director of evaluation and research in the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation at the Presidency of South Africa, told delegates that ICT is being used in her country to inform cities about potholes in their roads and hospitals about patients queuing longer in search of services.
She urged public servants across the continent to be compassionate with people they serve before applying ICTs to bring solutions.
“You want public servants who are people-oriented; who want to help people first and then they can use ICTs to provide services,” Amisi said.
Apart from leveraging ICT skills to deliver quality public services, discussions at the three-day conference in Kigali also focused on how to entrench citizen-centred public service delivery by involving the youth for the continent’s transformation, using the youth to develop a responsive and sustainable public service system, and promoting self-reliance and empowerment of African youths for socio-economic development.
Buchana challenges youths
A young Rwandan entrepreneur, Patrick Buchana, chief executive of AC Group, a technology company that provides smart transport solutions in Rwanda, told the meeting that governments need to create an enabling environment for young people to innovate.
“There is a lot that needs to be done when it comes to delivery of services using ICTs and governments can’t do it alone. They need to invest in young people so they can contribute,” he said.
Buchana, who has started extending his company’s services to other African countries, said young people need to understand that government’s role is not to innovate but create an environment for that to happen from people’s initiatives.
“I have a secret that I want to share with young people. Governments can’t innovate faster than we can. What the government should do is to create an enabling environment for young people to innovate,” Buchana said.
Nura Lisa Innocentia, a delegate from Tanzania, urged governments across to reform the education sector in order to empower young people with up-to-date knowledge and skills so they can compete on both domestic and global markets.
“The current education system in Africa doesn’t cope with the economy that these young people are going to face. We need our governments to be bold and innovative and change the education curriculum to make it competitive,” she said.
The Africa Public Service Day is celebrated to mark and appreciate the work being done by the public service to advance socio-economic development on the continent.