Home OPINIONS How Public Private Partnerships Can Enhance Service Delivery to Citizens

How Public Private Partnerships Can Enhance Service Delivery to Citizens

Edouard Docteur

By Edouard Docteur

E-governance has emerged as the norm in recent years and is set to continue revolutionising how citizens access government services. The growth of internet and mobile use is the foundation on which these systems will grow their value to citizens.

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However, for effective delivery of these technologies and services, Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) are crucial to enable governments to overcome key challenges – both infrastructural and financial.

In 2022, Kenya acquired the Peace Cable, a 15,000km submarine fiber connection worth USD 400 million. This high-capacity cable links multiple nations, including Pakistan, Kenya, Egypt, and France, with extensions to Singapore and South Africa. Designed to handle 16 Terabytes per second and expected to last 25 years, the Peace Cable was a significant boost to global ICT connectivity.

This project was made possible through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP), with key contributors including Telkom Kenya, Orange, Telecom Egypt, Cybernet, HMN Tech, and PCCW Global. This highlights the effectiveness of PPPs in advancing Kenya’s telecommunications infrastructure and promoting international connectivity.

E-governance was built on the foundation of decentralisation which African governments began adopting in the 1990s, transferring authority and responsibility from central governments to local or regional governments, bringing services closer to the people.

Rwanda, Kenya, and Ghana are leading lights in the e-governance space on the continent facilitating key services like business registrations, tax payments and other public services online.

Rwanda’s 2013 debut 10-year Eurobond, with a 6.625% coupon, attracted a significant $3.5 billion in orders, spotlighting the strength of PPPs in enhancing service delivery. The funds were allocated to clear a loan for the Kigali Convention Centre, support its completion, finance the Nyabarongo hydropower project, and settle RwandAir’s debts. This Eurobond’s significance extends beyond finances, it underlines Rwanda’s commitment to boosting infrastructure development. It received international acclaim, underscoring the transformative role of PPPs in fostering economic growth and delivering vital services.

Kenya’s eCitizen platform was recently enhanced by the government to accommodate over 5,000 government services and the introduction of a mobile app (Gava Mkononi). The government plans to further enhance it through the introduction of a new digital ID.

E-zwich, Ghana’s national payment system, embodies the potential of e-governance and PPS collaboration for service delivery. It boosts access to banking and retail services, offering nationwide convenience. Its key features, like biometric security, align with government data security goals. This partnership between government and private sector demonstrates the power of e-governance and PPPS collaboration in promoting financial inclusion and enhancing service accessibility.

The successes of Rwanda, Kenya, and Ghana serve as models for other African countries keen on embracing the e-governance bandwagon. Yet, these successes didn’t emerge in a vacuum. They are the results of conscious efforts by governments to collaborate with the private sector, invest in technology infrastructure, and prioritize citizen-centric services.

But why are PPPs so crucial in this landscape? The private sector, with its agility and expertise in tech-driven solutions, brings in a dynamism that public sectors can sometimes lack due to bureaucratic constraints. This partnership ensures the sustainability of e-governance projects, as it combines the regulatory and mass outreach capabilities of governments with the innovation, efficiency, and technical prowess of private entities.

Data security remains a paramount concern. With cyber threats growing in sophistication, the private sector’s expertise is essential in safeguarding sensitive information. Governments worldwide, including African nations, are reevaluating data privacy laws. Moreover, the long-term sustainability of e-governance platforms requires continual updates and innovations.

Partnering with tech firms ensures that these platforms remain relevant and are also equipped with the latest technological advancements. The data centre infrastructure in Africa is still in the developmental stage, working closely with the private sector open the gateway to data sovereignty and give African countries the boost needed to reach the next phase of its development.

However, technology alone isn’t the panacea. To ensure that the majority of people can access and benefit from these technological advancements, there’s a need for public awareness and digital literacy campaigns.

With public-sector resources for training and skill development being limited, the primary responsibility to bridge the skills gap in Africa now rests on the shoulders of the private sector. Companies operating on the continent have taken the lead by launching various initiatives in this regard. As African governments work towards enhancing their education systems to better integrate ICT skills, the private sector’s proactive efforts are crucial in preparing the workforce for the digital age.

Companies like Global Voice Group (GVG) have emerged as shining lights addressing the pressing need for digital literacy and skills development. In the post-COVID era, they have introduced digital Zoom rooms in Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo, making digital training accessible across borders leveraging advanced technology and skilled training teams.

GVG has forged yet another impactful partnership, this time contributing to the enhancement of Ghana’s telecommunications landscape through the implementation of a National SIM registry database. This initiative aims to thoroughly cleanse the ecosystem, addressing issues like duplication and ensuring the accuracy of Know Your Customer (KYC) information.

Since its launch in October 2021, this service has yielded remarkable outcomes. Notably, there has been a staggering 90% reduction in detected instances of telecom fraud, showcasing the substantial positive impact of this initiative. Such collaborative efforts exemplify the transformative power that strategic partnerships between Private and Public entities and technological solutions can bring to national infrastructures, fostering a more secure and reliable environment for end users.

As we look to the future, it’s essential for other African nations to study and adapt the models set by pioneers like Rwanda, Kenya, and Ghana. The journey might be fraught with challenges, but the potential benefits — enhanced transparency, improved service delivery, and greater citizen engagement — make it a venture worth pursuing.

In sum, the growth and success of e-governance in Africa will not only depend on technological investments but on the strength of partnerships across sectors, the adoption of best practices, and a firm commitment to place the citizen at the heart of all initiatives.

Edouard Docteur is the Chief Delivery Officer at Global Voice Group.

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