How ICT has helped Rwanda's DGIE to improve service delivery

The use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) is increasingly becoming central in providing better and efficient services in both public and private institutions in Rwanda.

The Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration (DGIE) is one of the public institutions that have embraced ICT to improve on services to Rwandans and foreigners.

The DGIE has embraced the use of ICT in service delivery progressively since 2005 and this has made it easier for Rwandans to get travel documents and foreigners to visit and work in Rwanda.


The mandate of DGIE

The DGIE is a public institution whose responsibilities range from the issuance of travel documents to Rwandans, issuance of entry visa to tourists and visitors, work and   resident   permits to foreign workers, self-employed business people and investors.

DGIE issues the following travel documents: ordinary passport, service passport, diplomatic passport, laissez- passer, travel document, emergency travel document, collective laissez- passer, refugee travel document and border pass.

The  institution  is  also  mandated  to handle  cases  of  foreigners  applying for Rwandan citizenship, control and manage    borders;    and    registration of International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) wishing to operate in Rwanda.

Introduction of e-Immigration Since 2005, the DGIE has embraced the use of ICT in service delivery.  This has seen the introduction of e-Immigration, a set of services offered by the use of ICT.

Director General of Immigration and Emigration  Mr.  Anaclet  Kalibata  says the use of ICT was embraced  following adoption of the government policy which  sought   to  put  service   delivery at the centre  of a successful economic liberalisation.

At  the  time,   other  public  institutions such  as investment and tourism promotion agencies were moving  so quickly to showcase Rwanda  as an investment  destination  and   a  tourist hub in the region.

However,   to  achieve their  objectives, they  had  to rely  on the  DGIE  for it to ease  the  process  of  acquiring  visas and  work  permits to  the  tourists  and foreign  investors coming to Rwanda.

The   DGIE   was   equally    facing    the increasing   number    of    citizens   all applying  to   have   travel   documents mainly  passports and  laissez-passer. This was challenging but it took a brink of an  eye  for  the  institution to  realise that the challenges it was facing  could be solved  easily.

This    resulted     in    the    Government adopting a  National   Migration  Policy and  strategies in January  2008  which has Skills and  Business attraction programmes, tourism  promotion, promotion of the use of ICT in service delivery,  and  maintaining security  and stability  of the nation.

The DGIE quickly embarked on introduction of ICT backed solutions which have so far placed it at the top of the league  in service  delivery.

"It  is  clear   that   service   delivery   as a government policy  is actually  a catalyst  to  the  overall  social,  political and economic development," says Mr. Kalibata.

The ideas to automate services originated  within   the   institution  and they  were  driven   by  staff  members. The   DGIE   did   not   hire   consultants to  conceptualize the  systems,  but worked   with  a  number   of  individuals and  private  companies to design and install  some of the applications.

All the systems  currently in place  are a result of innovative ideas from staff members. "There was no consultant," explains Kalibata, "the outcome was the thinking on how we can be able to solve the existing  challenges.

In     2005,     the     DGIE     developed "Innovation and Work Improvement Teams"  and  employees could  choose the team  to join and  contribute ideas. The   teams    generated   many   ideas and   some   of   them   were   adopted and  implemented. This  inspired the institution to introduce more ways to serve the public.

Before the introduction of e-lmmigration, the availability and access  to  services   offered   at  DGIE was   limited   to  physical  presence  of the persons at immigration offices  or at the few Rwandan diplomatic missions abroad.

All services were manual  which was costly in terms of distance covered and the frequency of visiting  offices  to acquire a service.

For visitors  intending to travel  to Rwanda, the situation  was more difficult for them to acquire entry visa as they were required to either travel or send application documents by  courier   to  Rwandan  embassies.  This was  costly  in terms  of travel  costs,  time and security  risks associated with mailing their travel documents.

The manual  system  was also a barrier  to trade  and disincentive to tourism  industry thus leading to loss of revenues  for the country.  However,  the use of ICT has seen DGIE   tackling  most   of  the   challenges clients   faced   before   automation  of services.

For instance the DGIE introduced online visas   to   the   foreigners, an   innovation that  has  not  only  helped to increase the number  of visitors  to the country  but  also cut the cost applicants had to incur  in the process of applying for Rwandan entry visas in terms of travelling to the Rwandan embassies or mailing  their applications. ........ more