To assess the impact of public programs on people, the Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) has over the past years produced the annual Citizen Report Card (CRC). Based on information gathered in all 30 districts in the country on different sectors, CRC reports mainly focus on the level of citizen satisfaction when it comes to actual service delivery.
RGB also produces the Rwanda Governance Scorecard, which is a kind of an index to reflect the status of governance in the country.
And from last year, a new law (Law N°56/2016 of 16/12/2016 Establishing the Rwanda Governance Board and Determining its Mission, Organisation and Functioning) mandates RGB to include among other things, assessment of the quality of service delivery in the private sector and civil society organizations
In regard to service delivery, and as stated in article 5 of the law establishing RGB, the institution is mandated to:
-1° “to regularly monitor service delivery and compliance with the principles of good governance in public and private sector as well as in non-governmental organisations” and
-“6° to promote principles of good governance, democracy, performance and quality services delivery and advise the Government and other concerned institutions thereof.”
And according to article 6 which details powers, RGB is invested with specific powers on service delivery to “request for explanations relating to governance, performance and service delivery in public and private institutions and to request for administrative sanctions against defaulting institutions or staff members.”
It must be clarified therefore that RGB is not in charge of administrating sanctions to private or public sector. It is only entrusted with powers to propose sanctions if need arise. In addition, the conduct of this mandate, it doesn’t interfere with the functions of concerned organizations as stipulated in article 28. In its operations RGB ‘s preference will be to impacting change and transformation through advises and engagements.
Last month, we caught up with Professor Anastase Shyaka, the RGB Chief Executive Officer, who explained how the broader mandate will work and the impact they expect for quality of services and delivery of transformation.
Can you briefly explain the rationale for RGB’s new mandate?
The rationale that called for a new mandate for RGB can be explained by the following 4 imperatives:
The Service delivery imperative - The stake of service delivery in national development is very high and 48% GDP comes from the service sector. Yet, quality of services is still low in many sectors. RGB has produced evidence but in the old set up the evidence was seen as just reports, it was not fully impactful.
In addition, we previously only looked at public sector, which left services provided by private operating not fully checked. This created a huge deficit in improving service delivery in the country.
Under the new mandate, RGB will also monitor the private sector in addition to public sector. This will give us comprehensive perspectives on this sector and will ultimately help streamline strategies geared towards greater impact of service sector on development.
The second imperative is the imperative of research capabilities and independence. It intends to expand the independence of the institution in its operations and the quality of its research. It also aims to widen and deepen RGB’s capabilities in policy advocacy and strategic engagements nationally and globally.
The imperative to preserve and scale up Home Grown Solutions (HGS) seeks to make RGB a full custodian of HGS. Previously RGB was mainly assessing the impact of home grown solutions through research. In the new mandate, RGB’s scope ranges from certification of innovations that qualify to be HGS, their documentation and impact assessment, their preservation and protection to the design of strategies geared towards their promotion and how to apply them profitably.
Lastly there was an imperative for enhanced convening authority to be able to impact service delivery in public and private sector and to be able to deliver on its regulatory and coordination functions.
Considering that there are already government bodies regulating different institutions with regards to service, can you please elaborate on the exact role RGB will play?
The fact that the new law gives RGB more powers to monitor service delivery and its impact does not take away the responsibilities of other institutions – they will continue to handle their mandate.
For example, if our objective is to ensure that farmers get seeds and fertilizers on time and that they are of the right quality, it is the responsibility of local government and the Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB), National Agriculture and Export Board (NAEB) to deliver them. And the Ministry of Local Government (MINALOC) and Ministry of Agriculture (MINAGRI) which are respective overseers of the above will continue to ensure it is done.
Therefore, RGB role is to enhance accountability and effectiveness in delivery chain to citizens. In doing so, we will enable higher performance and faster development.
Won’t this new regulation affect competition and revenue for companies?
There is nothing that should alarm you on monitoring service delivery in the private sector. On the contrary this new service will impact on the profitability of our companies because it aims at improving their services which will in return attract more clients and their satisfaction. Ultimately RGB’s role will spur investments and growth.
If someone gives you good money, then you should work to offer a product worth the value. We will encourage companies to run healthy business and improve customer care. If businesses make smart products and deliver smart services, there is no doubt that they will make more profit sustainably.
According to the CRC, the level of service satisfaction in urban areas is lower compared to rural regions. One could say it is because people in cities are better educated and thus expect more. How would you explain this?
There is nothing wrong for people in the cities having different expectations in service delivery compared to their peers in rural areas.
For example, people from Gatsibo or Nyagatare District may prioritize milk processing plant, while those in Rusizi District would go for cross border trade; and people in Kigali opt for high speed internet, etc.
The government of Rwanda believes in a people-centered governance. If people’s needs are different, their needs satisfiers must be as well.
Therefore, local leaders should align their service delivery approaches with the wishes and the needs of their constituencies. If you lead an urban constituency and you treat it as appropriate for rural areas or vice versa, sooner or later you might have challenges in meeting their expectations.
Lastly, other countries look at Rwanda as a good example of improved governance. Do you see these reports as an efficient way of checks and balances that will see organizations deliver the best services for the country’s development?
First, our reports have had an impact, because we have seen changes in many sectors, although not yet in all of them.
But we also have seen a change in the way people speak out. So our research products have become trusted tools through which citizens communicate what they like and what they don’t like. People ownership has gone up, and together with it vertical accountability.
However, as I mentioned, while some service providers have used the Citizen Report Card to improve, others still haven’t acted on them. Because of that, we haven’t yet achieved the full potential in improving service delivery. With the new set up, we expect this to change for better.
Read this article and more in issue n° 73 of Hope Magazine.