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