By Birhanu Fikade
High ranking officials of Ethiopia will be heading to South Korea next month to receive training on electronic governance and public services, South Korea’s Minister of Government Administration and Home Affairs said.
In an exclusive interview with The Reporter, the South Korean official Chong Jong-sup, said Ethiopia’s high ranking officials will be joined by their counterparts from Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.
Jong-sup met ministers of the five east African nations during the Korea-Africa Ministerial Meeting on Public Governance, hosted in Addis Ababa on Wednesday at Hilton. After the conclusion of the meeting, Jong-sup noted that it is essential for the high level officials to be acquainted with the ever sought e-governance services by citizens across the board.
According to the minister, the nations are selected to receive the training and support from South Korea on the basis of the economic development they registered. In addition, the nations are on course to eradicate poverty from their countries, he said.
One of the probabilities for the countries to successfully achieve e-governance would be via adopting the “Korean new community movement model”. The model, according to the official, would serve as a means of improving the daily lives of people in the rural areas of Africa.
The minister urged African nations to embark on e-governance, improve public services and innovative technologies. For that to be achieved, the high level officials need to be trained, Jong-sup said.
The daylong meeting with East African ministers and state ministers of the five nations was attended by Aster Mamo, coordinator of civil service and good governance cluster with the rank of deputy prime minister and minister of civil service. Aster welcomed South Korea’s support and expertise on the matter.
“Ethiopia, unlike the other east African nations, has an infant, a decade old information technology genesis. However, the country is working to establish electronic based national payment system, e-bills, school nets and woreda (district) net systems to address e-governance gaps,” Aster said.
Countries like Rwanda have established a system where President Paul Kagame, virtually, follows and learns the daily activities of various authorities of his government form his office. In Kenya public services are stipulated as constitutional rights. Qualities of the delivery of the public services are also enshrined in Kenya’s constitution. Hence, according to Fred Okengo Matiang’I, cabinet minister of information, communication and technology, certificates and other credentials are issued digitally in Kenya.
Being one of the most digitalized nations, South Korea spends some USD 32 billion on ICT every year, out of which some USD 1.8 billion are budgeted for basic e-governance operations, according to Jong-sup. Korea has managed to reduce the cost of customs clearances amounting to USD two billion annually. On top of that, the Korean government was able to process procurements electronically which in turn helped reduce costs of some USD 67 billion last year.
A memorandum of understanding was signed between Ethiopia and Korea to further extend cooperation in public governance for the coming two years. Similarly, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda also signed an MoU with Korea. No MoU was signed with Kenya as a proper dignitary was not present for the later.
Before his departure, the South Korean official also met Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on Thursday.
By Birhanu Fikade