Parliament has undergone a thorough digitisation process in a bid to expedite the execution of its responsibilities and to bring about transparency at a cost of seven million Birr.
It took three months to complete the project while parliament was in recess. On October 8, 2018, President Mulatu Teshome (PhD) opened parliament with a speech addressing both legislative bodies.
The digitised system was launched jointly by the Ministry of Innovation and Technology (MoIT), Information Network Security Agency (INSA), Ethio telecom and the Ethiopian Electric Utility.
The cost is covered by the MoIT, according to Misrak Mekonnen (PhD), head of the Office of Parliament.
The new upgrades consist of a redesigned website, a call-free centre, a mobile application and teleconferencing system.
“The reason behind the upgrades is to improve the participation of the public at large and parliament’s engagement with the executive body,” Kereyou Banata, communications director of the parliament, told Fortune. “The house organised proper and formal training for parliamentarians with an official launching plan.”
The website is now multilingual, providing content in English in addition to Amharic that was previously available.
There is also a mobile app dubbed “Meet MP,” which enables citizens to search for and learn about parliamentarians and even send text messages.
All proclamations, regulations and directives will be uploaded to the app to ensure transparency, according to Kereyou.
Draft proclamations will also be included to encourage public participation before bills become law.
Another app has also been designed exclusively for parliamentarians that allows access to reports and delivers documents via text messaging or the internet.
“Given that some reports may include confidential information, an IMEI code in collaboration with INSA has been created,” said the director.
The technology is expected to enable parliamentarians to better follow plans and reports prepared by standing committees.
Teleconferencing will also be employed for MPs to participate in real-time discussions with standing committees, as well as a call-free centre for citizens to forward questions and opinions during hearings. The call centre will have four call centre representatives.
“All these tasks are done as part of the ongoing reform in the country and to ensure accountability,” said Muferiat Kamil, the former speaker of parliament who was recently appointed as minister of the newly established Ministry of Peace.
Habtu Tekleweld, a lecturer on ICT, believes that developing the digital systems will have multiple advantages.
“They are cost-effective, help avoid geographical barriers, make information more accessible and help transparency,” Habtu told Fortune.
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