Make e-Citizen safe

The government has made clear its intention to streamline payments for its services and enhance efficiency. It has, therefore, chosen the e-Citizen portal as the best means to achieve this. Indeed, it should ease access information and the services provided.

During its launch last June, President William Ruto unveiled access to more than 5,000 government services and expected these to be scaled up. Steady progress has been made in a relatively short period with over 19,000 public services now available on e-Citizen. This has thus been billed as a milestone in improving service delivery and curbing inefficiency. This platform is also expected to combat corruption and wastage.

One of the most significant moves was to collapse all payment platforms into one pay bill, 222222. With the collections through the platform averaging Sh350 million daily, up from Sh50 million in the financial year ended June 2023, it is quite promising. But there is some serious concern over its safety.

Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu’s revelation that the government has little control over the e-Citizen self-service and payment portal is shocking. According to the Auditor-General, the platform is being run by private firms. This then raises concern over data security risks and the possibility of compromising the accountability of billions of shillings in public funds processed through the platform.

The e-Citizen platform is of strategic importance to the country and should not be left fully in the hands of entities the government does not have full control over. This, the auditor points out, has also made it difficult for the Government Digital Payments Unit (GDPU) to on-board some services.

It is, therefore, encouraging to note the Auditor-General is undertaking a special audit of the e-Citizen platform to establish its credibility and reliability. The much-anticipated gains from the online government payments platform will be compromised unless these shortcomings are identified and plugged.