In August this year, Rwanda commissioned its first online portal for e-governance widely known in the Kinyarwanda dialect as ‘Irembo’ which is loosely translated as ‘gateway’ in English.
The portal is meant to offer e-government solutions that fast-track service delivery and increase efficiency in public institutions.
Clement Uwajeneza, chief executive of Rwanda Online Platform Limited (ROPL), the technology company that is implementing the project said when the platform went live, that “Irembo,” which means gateway or door, would have most services available on www.irembo.gov.rw to everyone.
Uwajeneza said as a one-stop portal for e-Government services, Irembo acts as the gateway to all Rwandan Government services and provides the services with ease, efficiency and reliability.
So far, five services are available online namely; application for a birth certificate, registration for provisional or definitive and supplementary driving license tests, and application for a criminal record.
ROPL entered a 25-Year Public Private Partnership with the Government of Rwanda to digitize all Government to Citizen and Government to Businesses services, with 100 services coming online in the next 3 years.
With Rwanda continuously striving to become a knowledge-based economy as well as its high involvement in the ICT field, Rwanda Online Platform Limited’s vision is to become the catalyst of the transformation of Rwanda through technology.
“We have set out a mission to “Build and operate a platform that enables the automated and online provision of services to citizens and businesses”,” reads a statement on the company’s website.
The company seeks to provide Rwandan Citizens and Businesses an improved interaction with the Government; to enable efficient government service delivery, and to pursue continuous innovation and improvements in electronic service delivery.
A number of Rwandans have expressed the relief the online portal has brought to them, providing them an easier way of accessing government services and paying for them.
“Many people had to travel to Kigali to get access to some services but with Irembo, many of these services are accessed online. We are happy to bridge this gap in service delivery and the trainings on the platform’s use have equipped us with everything we need to know about it,” said Ephraim Nkurunziza, the managing director of Mayange Village, a knowledge hub centre in Bugesera district in Rwanda’s Southern Province in a previous interview.
Nkurunziza, who estimated the number of residents in his village to be 30,000, said about 19,000 of them will use the services, a prospect that excites him.
The government through the Ministry of Youth and ICT, together with ROPL and Rwanda Telecenter Network (RTN) has been carrying out training of telecenter managers on the use of the Irembo platform.
The Rwanda Development Board (RDB), in 2010 introduced telecenters in every district of the country which had a mandate of promoting the innovative use of ICTs in Rwanda’s rural areas.
With the coming of Irembo, the trainings are aimed at equipping the telecenter managers with the skills to facilitate citizens to access e-government services currently available on the Irembo platform.
“We are looking at re-branding existing ICT access points under the RTN flagship into ‘Irembo centres’,” said Paul Barera, the executive director of RTN to the media recently.
This branding exercise will help to promote and re-use private ICT access points as recognised places where citizens can converge to access e-government services.
Apart from the rebranding, ROPL is also introducing different payment options on the Irembo portal.
In the same month of the portal’s launch, telecommunications services provider, Tigo Rwanda partnered with ROPL to provide an e-government services option on Irembo using Tigo Cash, the telecom’s mobile financial wallet.
Tongai Maramba, the Tigo Rwanda chief executive officer, said the firm’s over 2.5 million Tigo Cash subscribers will save time while paying for e-government services on Rwanda Online Platform.
Maramba added that the addition of Tigo Cash on the modes of payments for e-Government services demonstrates the telecom firm’s commitment to the delivery of a cashless economy.
In order to use the platform, a person who successfully applies for an e-government service from the Irembo payment portal, receives a code which they use on their mobile phones for confirmation of payment.
We shouldn’t forget that this is just the start for Irembo. Much more is coming our way!