The year is 2000. One of the worst things that could happen to you is if you needed to access Government services like say renewing a driving license of registering a business or doing a land search. You would have to be patient on long queues with slow serving attendants. Some services required the use of ‘agents’ who had to be given a ‘small’ token of appreciation.
A simple task such as renewing a driving license would mean you waste a whole afternoon queuing at Forodha or Times Towers, before you pay and get to renew the license. Unfortunately, not everyone in the queue had the agenda of renewing their license and several people lost the money they were to pay for their licenses to be renewed to pick pockets.
Registering a business name was equally difficult as one had to go the Registrar’s office, pay for a name search to be manually done, then wait for a week for the results. Too bad if all the names are taken as you would have to re-do the name search. Only when a name you have chosen is available, are you given forms to fill, then there is still the hustle of returning the filled forms.
Fast forward to 2015, and the rise of the internet and mobile money has made life much easier. Half of everyone in the world using mobile money, and specifically M-PESA, is Kenyan. Moreover, internet access in the country has grown over 100 folds in the last fifteen years with about half of the population having access to the internet thanks to affordable smart-phones.
The rise of M-PESA and access to internet has prompted the Government to take advantage of the two services and introduce most of their services online. There is now an ecitizen platform where you can apply for Government services. This is a wonderful initiative as most of the services that would have required long queues to Government offices, queues in banking halls to pay for the services and later queues to return the forms and banking slips. Now, you just download the forms, and pay for the services using M-PESA.
The Government services are available at www.ecitizen.go.ke. These services include:
• Registrar of Companies
o Business name search and/ or registration
• Registrar of Marriages
o Notice of marriage;
o Issuance of a registrar’s and/ or marriage certificate;
o Solemnization of marriage;
o Commissioning of affidavits.
• National Transport and Safety Authority
o Provisional and Interim driving license;
o Driving test booking;
o Driving license renewal;
o Driving class endorsement;
o Driving license information corrections.
• Ministry of Lands
o Official search
• Department of Immigration
o Passport application for both adults and children
The Government has acquired an M-PESA PayBill number 206206 to make it easier for citizens to easily access Government services and be able to pay through M-PESA without necessarily having to visit the Government offices. This means that you need not carry cash, queue long hours to deposit money in a bank account to present the banking slips to access Government services. You simply use the money in your M-PESA and access the services without any challenges.
Earlier this month, the Chief Justice and the Inspector General of Police gave new guidelines concerning traffic offenses. Initially, any transport offense was a nightmare to the offender as a lot of time was wasted, and sometimes the offender locked up before he can appear before a court and pay the fine. With the new regulations, however, the offender can easily pay the fine in a matter of minutes using M-PESA. This will save both the police and the offender valuable time.
Thanks to M-PESA, we can now access Government services without a hustle and moreover, there is little chance of corruption happening. We can only hope that the Government will add even more services to www.ecitizen.go.ke.