29 September 2018

Ethiopia: Transport Authority Joins E-Service Platform

Currently five governments use the online service

The Federal Transport Authority joined the Ethiopian e-Services system, a government platform for online services, by placing over half of its services online last week.

The Authority took 18 of its 34 services online, including the issuance of vehicle import permits, competency assurance for garage services and applications for cross-border permits.

The Authority has become one of the five Ethiopian government service providers to take their operations online. When launched on September 11, 2018, it issued its maiden permit licenses to the first three clients that processed their request via the online platform.

"We joined the e-service with the goal of delivering fast and efficient services," said Abdisa Yadeta, state minister of Transport.

The Authority gives services to an average of 300 people a day.

"Considering the variety of services we give and the number of documents involved, there were complications and long lines at the office," said Aynadis Tilahun, information communication technology officer at the Authority.

"Now clients only have to come to the authority to finalise their service requests after everything is processed," Aynadis told Fortune.

Clients of the Authority celebrated the new services as well.

"There had been long delays and a lack of proper communication with the Authority's officers," said Yordanos Teshale, a businessman who imports cars and tractors.

"Now I can start my requests online and just go to the Authority to pay the fees and pick up my certificates," said Yordanos.

The e-service, hosted by the Ministry of Information & Communication Technology, is an online platform that lets people receive services given by government institutions.

To access the site, clients need to first register using their mobile numbers. Upon registration, the system provides them with account usernames and passwords.

About 15 government offices are listed on the site, but only five are currently active, including Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Accounting & Auditing Board of Ethiopia; the Ministry of Water, Irrigation & Electricity; the Ministry of Communication & Information Technology; and the latest entrant, the Federal Transport Authority.

After users apply for the service, the respective institutions process the request, review the documents notifying clients to correct any errors and send text messages setting an appointment date to present original documents for verification, settle service fees and pick up their certificates.

Issuance of diplomatic ID cards by foreigners and competency certificates by auditors and accountants are the most frequently requested services on the platform, according to the website administrators at the Ministry.

The Accounting & Auditing Board of Ethiopia joined the platform two months ago, and it added efficiency to its service delivery, according to Abebe Shiferwau, the board's communications director.

"Since our office does not have branches, the platform has been conducive in providing our service," said Abebe. "We have delivered service to 1,000 clients within a two month period."

The Ministry of Communications trains government staff on technical issues regarding the e-service. The Ministry also works on transferring knowledge to the employees, so that in the future the offices will be able to maintain the e-services on their own.

"The institutions lack initiation to join the platform," said Bethlehem Bedlu, a professional developer at the Ministry. "The Ministry is approaching different government organs to join the service."

The main problems causing institutions not to join the e-service include poor infrastructure development and lack of integration of the knowledge, according to Bethlehem.

"E-governance will create huge convenience for citizens in terms of reducing the time and money involved in processing requests," said Habtu Teklewold, a lecturer at Bahir Dar University who has been working in governance and development studies for half a decade.

"Infrastructure should be well developed," Habtamu said, "and the system also should be secured from manipulation by hackers and officers of the institutions."

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