11 January 2014

Rwanda: Video-Link Meetings to Improve Service Delivery - Officials

Prime Minister Pierre Damien Habumurenyi on Thursday held his first video-link meeting with several ministers participating from their offices, a practice officials say has made their work much easier.

The video-link technology was rolled out last year in all ministries and district offices. Mayors are already utilising the facility.

In a tweet, the premier said the technology will have much impact in improving governance, especially in "saving time, resources and effective interaction with participants."

The Minister for Youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Ngengimana, told Saturday Times that since its inauguration, government's performance in service delivery is improving.

"In this age, meetings are the major consumers of time and resources. And with this technology, we spend more time serving our people rather than traveling to attend meetings," said Nsengimana.

"This is one of the signs that we are moving toward a technology economy. In a few months, we will make an assessment to know how much government saved from the use of this technology."

The minister said government only spends on purchasing the system but not on bandwidth since all public offices are connected to the fibre optic cable.

Nyamasheke mayor Jean Baptiste Habyalimana, one of the officials who have used the technology since October, last year, said, in the conventional face-to-face format, it was taking him three days to attend a meeting in Kigali.

"Travelling from Nyamasheke to Kigali is six hours. To attend a meeting in Kigali, I had to travel the day before, and back a day after the meeting. It was expensive in terms of hotels and fuel," he said.

Habyalimana added that sometimes due to emergency meetings, appointments with his office would be canceled which was very frustrating to the public.

"The risks involved in frequent long distance travels and the fatigue that comes with it were among the problems solved by this new technology. Now I hold a meeting with the ministers from the comfort of my office and I get enough time to serve my people," said the mayor.

The central-local government meeting via video-link technology is considered a crucial aspect in monitoring, coordination and fast-tracking of development programmes.

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