The process enables applicants to accomplish most of their activities virtually
The Agency responsible for registering and authenticating documents launched an online power of attorney service at its four branches last month.
The Document Authentications & Registration Agency launched the service to enable users to register and request power of attorney and authentication of documents online without their physical presence, at its Qera, Jemo, Sidist Kilo and Gotera branches.
The service is an extension of the Agency's 5.3 million Br project to upgrade a system developed by Custor Computing Plc, a local company that installed most of the online services at the Agency. In June the Agency launched online document registration and authentication services at its nine branches. Last month, it added power of attorney online registration.
"We launched the services in phases," says Meresa G.Yohannes, director general of the Agency. "In the next six months, we'll put all our services online."
Power of attorney services are done in three forms: general, giving all the powers and rights to the second party; family, delegating family members; and lawyers, giving powers to a lawyer in representing before courts and other legal proceedings.
Customers fill out application forms online by logging onto the website and receive a registration number. This initiates the process at one of the four branches of the Agency, where for the final step customers appear in person for signature with or without witnesses, depending on the case.
"Forged documents and IDs are some of the challenges the Agency encounters," said Alemeshet Meshesha, deputy communication director of the Agency, which was established in 1987 and currently operates with 715 staff members.
To fight such illegal activities, the United States Embassy has provided the staff with forensic training and donated forged document identifying devices, according to him.
Businesses have received training and were given access to the system to assist customers with services that are not yet incorporated in the online system.
On a daily basis over 7,000 customers are served at the Agency, which generates 1.2 million Br in revenue. In the last fiscal year, the Agency delivered the service to 1.7 million customers and earned 357 million Br.
For Daniel Solomon, a customer who was at the Agency to process ownership transfers for his automobile, the online service has decreased the number of reappearances to the Agency, which has created a convenience for him.
Not all customers cheer the service, however. Bogale Mengistu, a customer who was at the main branch of the Agency to register for power of attorney was frustrated by the system.
"I was asked additional fees after applying for the service through a business centre," Bogale told Fortuneafter paying 60 Br to submit the online application.
These discrepancies will happen for some time until customers start fully utilising the system, according to Menur Mohammed, branch manager of the main office located in the Alsam Cheleleqe building on Chad Avenue.
An expert in ICT at the Addis Abeba University for more than one and half decades appreciates the system but cautions the Agency to make crucial moves.
"The system has to be well secured and sustained as the documents that will be loaded in the database are very sensitive," said Mesfin Fikre (PhD), "until we start utilising a blockchain protocol, which is the ultimate solution for data security and transparency."