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Will The Shift To E-Gov't Decrease Corruption in Kenya?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, November 7 2013

"Complaint box for corruption." (Flickr/watchsmart)

Today Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta launched the first e-government service center in Nairobi. The Huduma Centers ('Huduma' means 'service' in Swahili) are supposed to be “one-stop shop[s]” for government services like seasonal parking tickets, student loan applications, reporting corruption and drivers licenses, among others.

The Center's services will be integrated with an online portal called Huduma Kenya, which launched in June.

At the launch, President Kenyatta said inefficiency in public services “bred corruption, initiating a cycle of vice which has tormented many and cost the country billions," reports the BBC.

He continued: "Kenyans and visitors became accustomed to being frustrated numerous times in their quest for public service: 'Come tomorrow'; 'Go to this or that other office first'; 'Bring a copy of your identity card'; and so on.”

The new government services share the name with an Ushahidi-powered citizen initiative that monitors government services and provides feedback on their delivery.

A BBC reporter based in Nairobi described the process of getting a replacement ID card for his employer:

It involved reporting the loss at a police station, going to a district officer to have the loss certified, then going to the national ID office and queuing for forms.

He then joined another queue to submit the forms and then had to wait to be called for finger-printing and queued again to have a photo taken.

At most stages, he was asked for money and then there was at least a three-month wait until the card was ready, which involved queuing again to collect it, he says.

Under the new system, our reporter should be able to report the loss and apply for a replacement ID card at the Huduma centre - and as the system is connected directly to a government database, there would be no need for finger-printing and photos as his records could be automatically accessed.

In a promising move, it hasn't all been about the shift from people-driven services to electronic services. Ministry staff have also been retrained, with a focus on “customer service standards and practices based on international best practice.”

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