It is early in the morning and Uwimana Fracine had only a few minutes to catch a bus from Kabuga to the capital Kigali. Though she had no money left in her purse, she nevertheless rushed to the taxi park to board a KBS bus to her destination. Armed with her tap and go card, Uwimana says she can move freely from place to place without having money in her purse thanks to the digitalized bus fare payments.
According to her, since she started using the tap and go card, an immediate benefit was realized in terms of time and money saved by being able to avoid situations where, for example, a bus conductor exploits inclement weather conditions to try and charge riders more or claims to not have the correct change.
“Before the system, we used to hassle with conductors about change at the time alighting off the bus and at times they would increase the fare at their convenience. But today, all I have to do is tap and go which is very convenient for most of us,” says Uwimana.
Another longer-term benefit she realizes is that customer convenience is also enhanced by a speeded up boarding process – sometimes shaving as much as twenty minutes off the total trip time.
“It is faster to board now that no money has to exchange hands. So we find that we save a lot of time that would have been wasted in looking for change or demanding a ticket from the conductor,” explains Uwimana.
People care about public services and depend on them being delivered well. Public services provide the most common interface between people and the state, and their functioning shapes people’s sense of trust in and expectations of government.
At a national level, public services underpin human welfare and economic growth.
Public services need to be delivered with integrity, centered around citizens, and responsive to their needs, particularly the needs of the most vulnerable.
Promoting greater transparency and enabling ordinary citizens to assess the quality, adequacy and effectiveness of basic services, to voice their needs and preferences and to become involved in innovation offers an opportunity to enable better use of public funds, and improve service delivery.
Kayitare Jean Baptiste has always craved to get a driving permit so that he can ferry passengers for a living in Kigali. Though he has tried the exams once and failed, Mbonyumuvunyi believes that he failed because was not ready and blames no one.
Jean Baptiste while listening to news heard that there was a new development by Rwanda National Police traffic and road safety department, where those seeking for a driving permit can apply online.
“In July 2017 I registered for provisional licence online for free using my mobile phone by typing *909# and following the prompts. Immediately after, i got a billing number and I made payment via mobile money and after a duration of one week, I got a code number, site and the date for the exams” says Jean Baptiste.
In order to develop an e-Government services platform in Rwanda, the Government partnered with RwandaOnline Platform Limited (ROPL) and barely a year later, the company launched its first product, Irembo which today provides access to over 85 government services to Rwandan citizens.
It was established to develop technology-enabled delivery of government services and digitization of corresponding payments via platforms like IREMBO.
Today the 85 services that are currently available on the portal include among others; application for birth certificate, registration for provisional driving licence, electronic birth certificate, criminal record, Mutuelle de Sante, Land title transfers, museum visitor permit, tourism permit, NGO/FBO Registrations and traffic fines.
Also foreigners to the country have been kept in mind with the new Visa services; single entry Visa, EA Visa, Conference Visa and Transit Visa.
Online services in fighting corruption
Rwanda has for the second year running ranked third least corrupt country in Africa, , 2017 and globally ranked 48th least corrupt nation improving two places from 2016, according to the latest Corruption Perception Index released last week.
Recently while briefing journalists about the report in Kigali, Kavatiri Rwego Albert, the programme manager at Transparency International-Rwanda Chapter, said that strong and effective institutions, such as government, civil society, and media are the key factors behind Rwanda’s sustained fight against corruption.
Rwego pointed out that Bertelsmann Foundation Sustainable Governance Indicators, used by Transparency International, showed that corruption in Rwanda National Police significantly reduced from 15 per cent in 2016 to 8 per cent in 2017, while graft went down from 5.4 per cent to 4.9 per cent in local government.
These findings, he said, match the World Internal Security and Police Index of 2016, which ranked Rwanda National Police second in assuming its responsibilities, after Botswana.
ACP Jean Nepo Mbonyumuvunyi, the Commissioner of Inspectorate of Services and Ethics at RNP, said the police had initiated electronic systems like Irembo platform through which contact between a service seeker and provider was reduced. He cited traffic and vehicle inspection services, as well as filing of cases.
RwandaOnline Platform Limited (ROPL)
RwandaOnline, the company behind the National centralized digital platform for Government services-Irembo has over 2, 700,000 applications from over 2.4 million unique users were successfully processed. The introduction of Irembo in July 2015 has significantly contributed to reducing the common pain point of queuing in public offices while also demystifying access to Government.
The platform Irembo avails 85 services from 12 Government institutions and 8 digital payment channels putting forward citizen’s experience and privacy.
According to Jules Ntabwoba the person responsible for communications at RwandaOnline, the platform is designed to reduce citizens waiting in long lines at all sectors, or cell level.
“Citizens save money on trips from government offices to banks and vice versa. The idea is to make it a one step process not only for the application of services, but also the payment of the services. Irembo will ensure that government officers aren’t dealing with an enormous amount of paperwork (paperless) on a regular basis. It significantly reduces chances of corruption, present transparency, and the ability for government officers to easily access and track all necessary files” he adds
Rwanda Online plans to bring 100 government services online over a period of three years. By maximizing digital payment use-cases, one aim is to create greater traction for financial products and services and thereby achieve greater financial inclusion.