The Ministry of Communication & Information Technology (MCIT) is to launch in a month, 20 mobile applications (apps) for 20 government offices, which it has been working on since September, 2015.
Given the mandate to introduce and implement new technology and communication systems in Ethiopia, the project operator, MCIT, has had an e-government plan since 2010. The plan vies to improve the online presence of government services and to improve access to the general public.
The Government Information System Development & Data Centre Administration team under the e-Government Directorate is managing projects targeted towards development of combined information systems to benefit government services online.
The strategy to implement the e-government plan includes the development of mobile applications for the 219 e-services that have been identified. Anyone with a smartphone can download these apps.
The 20 offices “are just the first few government offices that are selected based on the number of their clients and the number of clients that seek information,” said Abyot Byu, e- government director.
Among those selected are the Ministry of Trade (MoT), Ethiopian Revenue & Customs Authority (ERCA) and Ethiopian Postal Services, each to have its own app.
Some of the e-government projects that require internal system development are undertaken by the Ministry’s own professionals, while most of the app development and the backend software development work is outsourced to Ahadoo Tech ICT Solution Plc and a German company, Meelogic Consulting AG, with which it is working in partnership. They were selected through a bid announced at the end of June, 2015. Accordingly, Ahadoo is develops all 20 apps, while Meelogic will work on the other software.
“All apps share the same feature of informing clients about the particular office and its services, but they differ in that they are specifically produced according to the specifications of each service,” Eskinder Ahadoo, founder, told Fortune.
The application for the Ethiopian Postal Services, for example, allows users to input only the weight of the good they are sending and the destination, to know how much it will cost them. Once mailed, confirmation of delivery could also come through the application.
“The aim is to make the lives of people easier. Now they can know what to do and what not do before coming to these institutions,” Eskinder added.
The government offices for which the apps are being developed are now creating content that will be accessed through the apps. An employee with the Ministry of Trade told Fortune that information required for the apps is being emailed to Ahadoo regularly.
Abiyot said that the mobile apps were preferred to websites because more people are believed to have access to mobile phones than to computers. Data from ethio telecom indicate that there were 40 million mobile subscriptions at the end of 2015.
“I know the website of the Customs Authority provides a lot of information, like lists of imported items with prices and quantities as well as a tax calculator, but it requires patience to navigate through the website and find the information you need. You also need a computer to access that information. It seems more interesting to have it available everywhere through the mobile app,” said Yared Mulugeta, an importer.
The Ministry and the federal Supreme Court have launched on January 18, 2016, a system that reminds clients about their appointment through a mobile text message. Solomon Amare, ICT department director of the federal Supreme Court has indicated that this service will be available for clients of all courts starting this week.
The text reminder is aimed at people who forget their appointments for cases.
“There are a lot of arguments every day from clients forgetting or misunderstanding their appointments. If the case was in the morning and the client comes in the afternoon then he will not be able to follow his case because the judge will have already closed the file.” Solomon added.
The text now will be sent from their own ICT centre by registering only the client’s name and phone number.
“I have been following my cases from the High Court to Supreme Court. I still have an appointment after six months so I am happy that this reminder has come. Even though it is late compared to their website that tells me every detail about my cases, I believe it is going to be helpful for forgetful people like me,” said Ayalnesh Desalegn, a client registering her address on a form produced for this purpose.
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