Government goes cashless in collection of fees for services

President William Ruto during the unveiling of e-Citizen services, GavaMkononi App

President William Ruto during the unveiling of e-Citizen services, GavaMkononi App and Gava Express at the KICC, Nairobi, on June 30. 

Photo credit: Billy Ogada | Nation Media Group

President William Ruto yesterday banned cash payments for all government services, and launched one pay-bill number for all such transactions, even as he announced the plan to roll out a digital identity card in the next 90 days.

Dr Ruto said a total of 5,084 government services are live on the rebranded eCitizen account, and Kenyans can enjoy use and payment of all government-provided services under one roof, and paying with one central account.

“Citizens need only pay the gazetted fees for government services, and not a shilling more. These fees are accurately accounted for in real-time through ICTs and remain visible at all times to the National Treasury and the Kenya Revenue Authority for efficient revenue administration,” said Dr Ruto when he launched the GavaMkononi App at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC).

He added: “We are well on our way to paperless governance, where there will be no physical registries and files to be mislaid by mischievous persons in search of a bribe, or movement of people from office to office.”

All payments are expected to be made to pay-bill number 222222, which goes directly to the National Treasury.

The President expects 10,000 services to be available by December 30 on the eCitizen platform that can be accessed by dialling *2222#. Banks and Fintech companies like M-Pesa and Visa will be partnering with the government to make the services accessible through Gava Express, an offline service.

“Gava Express will be available in more than 250,000 M-Pesa shops, 28,000 KCB shops, 40,000 Equity shops and 22,000 Cooperative Bank shops, to serve those without smartphones,” he said.

Dr Ruto used the opportunity to rubbish his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta’s Huduma Namba plan—the idea of having one identity that brings together all else—as a fraud, which he said should urgently be replaced by a working system.

“In the next 90 days, we must have a digital identification and signature to help Kenyans easily transact on digital platforms. The phantom project Huduma number was a fraud that cost Sh15 billion,” he said.

Accompanied by his deputy, Rigathi Gachagua, and Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi, Dr Ruto went around the KICC exhibition, as different government agencies and ministries showcased services that have been made available on the platform.

Cabinet Secretaries and Principal Secretaries such as Foreign Affairs CS Alfred Mutua and Health CS Susan Wafula were put on the spot by the President to back up their ideas and affirm that they would work and not fall through the cracks.

“I am aware that there are some government agencies that are resisting this change. All government services must be available on E-citizen by December 30. For a long time, seeking government services was a painful experience that Kenyans only endured, if they could not avoid it, and the relationship between citizens and the state was characterised by extremely low trust,” he said.

Cooperatives CS Simon Chelugui, whose ministry manages the Sh30 billion Hustler Fund, showed that the fund has over seven million regular borrowers. “We have seen that 53 per cent of the borrowers are men, while 47 per cent are women. We are seeing that we will need to do more sensitisation for women as we know women are usually more likely to take loans; 70 percent of borrowers are under the age of 39,” he said.

Sh5K smartphone

The Ministry of ICT and Safaricom pledged to roll out a 4G smartphone to be priced at Sh5,000 by August so that all Kenyans can have a phone that connects to the Internet for them to access online services. The President also promised to ensure Internet connectivity becomes accessible for all citizens, wherever they live or work.

“We pledged to provide universal broadband connectivity throughout the country by constructing 100,000 kilometres of new fibre-optic lines, establish 25,000 free Wi-Fi hotspots in market centres in every part of Kenya, and build 1450 digital hubs in every ward,” said the President.

Offshore jobs

Dr Mutua said Kenyans would be able to apply for jobs abroad using the platform. He said the Foreign Affairs and Labour ministries are working on bilateral agreements with countries offering jobs to ensure Kenyans are taken care of when they go to work and live abroad. This also includes using trusted and verified agents to eradicate scams.

Government agencies such as Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation showed that farmers will be able to buy fertilisers through the app, check the weather patterns for the next 14 days and anticipate rain for planting.

E-citizen had 300 government services available before the launch. One of the services offered by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations is the application for a certificate of good conduct used by citizens to show that they do not have a criminal record. Currently, the service collects Sh1 billion per year.

The GavaMkononi app is available on Google Play store for Android phones and App Store for Apple devices.

The application has already uploaded information for Kenyans who have used E-citizen services such as applying for a smart driving licence, which has a digital version on the app.