Addis Fortune (Addis Ababa)

25 November 2012

Ethiopia: Government Introduces E-Service With 3.8 Million Br

The Ministry of Communications & Information Technology (MoCIT) launched 49 e-service portals developed in order to enable seven governmental institutions give online services at a ceremony held at Churchill Hotel on November 22, 2012.

Two private IT solution providers were involved in developing and installing the e-service system, which cost 3.8 million Br, all provided by the World Bank. Africom Technologies Plc has developed 33 of the e-services with 2.8 million Br and eSystemAfricahad the rest 16 with one million Birr, both after winning the tender a year ago.

Africom is also developing 31 e-services with 1.9 million Br and eSystems Africa 44 services for 12 government institutions including Addis Abeba City Administration, Ministry of Finance & Economic Development (MoFED), Ministry of Culture & Tourism (MoCT), Ministry of Industry (MoI), Ministry of Trade (MoT) and Ministry of Labour & Social Affairs (MoLSA).

The institutions that have been prioritised for the e-services include the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Agriculture, Health, Labour & Social Affairs, Urban Development, as well as the Federal Transport Authority and the Agency for Government Houses. The Ministry has planned to develop 219 e-services by 2015 as part of the five year plan started in 2011.

"This is the first part of the e-government plan set to elevate ICT and reach citizens with time, power and cost reducing services," said Debretsion Gebremichael, minister of MoCIT.

The Ministry also launched the Ethiopian Information Technology & Government Award (EITGA) by awarding Ethiopian National Archives & Library Agency, MoFED and the Ethiopian Social Security Agency for the first time for upgrading their portals timely, using e-mails and following their reports monthly.

A person who seeks the e-services is expected to go to these government offices only once to give fingerprints or signature, in case of getting ID, birth certificate, driving license or passport after taking appointment on the new www.eservices.gov.et, according to Mesay Hailemariam, Government Application Development & Electronic Services team leader at MoCIT.

"The portal is a generic tool that the institutions can use to start other e-services anytime they are ready to change their working system in addition to the 49 e-services on it. We also installed an escalation point in the software to inform to the next higher official level, if a citizen could not get a service at a level in a provided time for manual involving services. The official chain ends in the data system installed in the prime minister office," said Bahru Zeynu, managing director of Africom Technologies.

The portal is available for any citizen with e-mail address and phone number to log in to the sites and get online services in Amharic, Oromifa, Tigrigna and English languages. The citizens can use the service to take appointments, exchange attached files, chat and upload photos for ID, licenses and passport.

The portal is designed to operate manually and automatically and the log in system will be changed after the national ID comes to force, according to Mesay.

E-government strategy is started in 2010 under the national ICT policy in order to provide customer focused, cost effective, and easy to use services for citizens and business and to improve the internal workings of government. According to the United Nations e-government survey in 2012,Ethiopiastands at 172nd out of 190 countries in 2010 and 2012.

Currently, the country has three ICT-enabled development projects, the SchoolNet, which connects more than 550 high schools with VSAT-based broadband connection for delivery of video-based distance and standardised education; the WoredaNet, which connects over 600 weredas (local administrative districts) in 11 regional capitals with broadband internet access for the purpose of enhancing local administration and the HealthNet, designed to connect hospitals and health institutions for health workers to access information services relevant to health care.

RevenueNet, AgriNet and EtherNet (which is planned to connect all public higher learning institutions at campus, local, institutional, regional and national levels) are also under process.

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