This morning I went toTeleposta Towers to collect mail and pay for our postal boxes and was pleasantly surprised to be ushered in by lovely ladies and asked what they could do for me today. It then hit me that I was having a customer experience at the pilot centre known as Huduma centre – Huduma Kenya. My President 5 days ago launched a ”one-stop shop” to access and pay for government services electronically in order to cut corruption and bureaucracy. Great initiative!
Huduma, which means “service” in Swahili, is part of a government plan to fully digitize government services.
“For the longest time we have been subjected to moving from place to place in search of services from the government. Both Kenyans and visitors became accustomed to being frustrated numerous times in their quest for public service: ‘Come tomorrow’; ‘Go to this or that other office first’; ‘Bring a copy of your identity card’; and so on. Endless, static queues have been the order of the day, wasting countless hours. Public service became the epitome of inefficiency.
In properly managed queues, I was able to renew a driving licence, amend my health insurance, register a business and renew my postal box all in less than 40 minutes.
I guess my dream of getting birth certificates, passports, national identity cards, registration of business names, application of marriage certificates, driving licences, police abstracts and many more in one place has arrived.
Couple of years ago, I had to take a whole day off work to order a replacement of my ID card. It involved reporting the loss at a police station, going to a district officer to have the loss certified, then going to the national ID office and queuing for forms. I then joined another queue to submit the forms and then had to wait to be called for finger-printing and queued again to have a photo taken. At the time most stages, I was asked for money and then there was at least a three-month wait until the card was ready, which involved queuing again to collect it.
Under the Huduma Kenya program, one should be able to report the loss and apply for a replacement ID card at the Huduma centre – and as the system is connected directly to a government database, there would be no need for finger-printing and photos as ones’ records can be automatically accessed.