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Rwanda: Expansion of Irembo Services Must Go Hand in Hand With Digital Literacy

Government has announced an ambitious plan to introduce at least 200 more public services on the online public portal Irembo by the end of this fiscal year. Currently, over 100 government services are accessible electronically via Irembo.

Irembo has made life so easy for Rwandans that the mere thought of how things were before it was introduced, only evokes nightmares.

People would make dozens of kilometres – many on foot – to local government offices to seek such services, and at worst, they would find they went on the day the particular service they wanted was being provided. This meant going back and returning on another day.

With Irembo, life has become much easy, so much that one can easily access those services in the comfort of their home, using their mobile phone. With the increasing penetration of mobile phones in the country, more Rwandans are now able to easily access these services.

However, a lot needs to be done in the area of educating people on how to get these services on their own because this is the intended purpose. As things stand today, the introduction of these services created another unnecessary layer of ‘agents’ who continue to sprout up in many trading centres in the country, to help those seeking to obtain a service from Irembo, of course at a fee.

While this has created jobs for thousands of our youths, it undermines the intended purpose establishing the Irembo portal because, that small cost that Rwandans seeking such services are forced to incur may be prohibitive to some people.

The reason Irembo was created was to make sure all Rwandans access these services at their own convenience, without the involvement of any third party.

The good news is that the government, through the Ministry of ICT and Innovation has embarked on a vigorous digital literacy campaign that will see millions of Rwandans taught how to access these services without using third parties.

This will also be supplemented with the already ongoing campaigns such as Connect Rwanda that aims at making at least each household in the country having access to a smartphone, which is important for one to access Irembo services.

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