e-Governance and e-Payment Systems
Kiambu county has launched a cashless payment system to improve its revenue collection. The payment system designed by @iLabAfrica Research Centre in Strathmore University through its other arm- Strathmore Research and consultancy center (SRCC) is designed to ensure that revenue collection in the county is a citizen centric automated system contributing to enhanced income streams and provision of services.
The Launch took place on the 2nd of March 2017 and was attended by the Kiambu Governor, Hon. Ferdinand Waititu his Deputy James Nyoro, @iLabAfrica Director Dr. Joseph Sevilla and county executives (CEC’s), and major stakeholders.
Speaking during the launch Governor Waititu said that the county collects up to Sh46 million a week and projects collections are expected to shoot up with the cashless system. “The revenue collected goes directly to our account. This eliminates middlemen who are an extra cost to the County and ensures accountability of the citizens’ revenue”; he said. The governor further noted that they had launched a USSD code that will help Kiambu locals to pay for various services offered in the county.
“We have launched our USSD code *419# through Safaricom Kenya Limited which will assist Kiambu residents to pay for some services like parking, market fee, single business permits renewal among others”; Waititu said. “The USSD code is faster and people can pay their taxes wherever they are without going to county offices,” he said.
The county has partnered with Cooperative Bank to collect the revenue and residents will get a payment confirmation. With the launch, the governor noted that this implementation was a way that his administration would enhance revenue collection.
“These are some of the steps my county has undertaken to enhance revenue collection. Improved revenue collection will translate to more development projects for Kiambu citizens. This money is meant for development. We have reviewed all licenses and fees and have lowered them to help Kiambu residents conduct their business without high charges,” Waititu said.
Other counties where @iLabAfrica Research Centre has implemented revenue collection
systems are; Taita Taveta County, Busia County, Mombasa County and Kilifi County.
This step of implementing revenue collection systems is a move by the commission on Revenue Allocation, the ICT Authority of Kenya and implementers of financial management and policies in all 47 counties.
For more information about the system visit www.ilabafrica.com
City council attendant using the POS system to collect market revenue
County governments have targeted to reach a total of Ksh.56, 607, 648, 333 mark, based on the County Governments Budget Implementation Review Report, First Quarter FY 2015/16. With automation of revenue collection system, there will be better financial management, transparency and accountability. Strathmore University Consortium has been at the forefront in the installation of an Online Revenue Collection System dubbed ‘County Pro’. Strathmore University, @iLabAfrica through its consulting unit Strathmore Research and Consultancy Centre (SRCC), has formed a consortium of top technology companies (Namu and iPay Limited) in the implementation of a consolidated end-to-end County Operations Management and Revenue Collections solution.
In the last one year, counties have been upgrading their systems to automated revenue collection systems. CountyPro has been implemented in the following counties: County Government of Kiambu, County Government of Taita Taveta and County Government of Busia. CountyPro system is also currently being piloted by County Government of Lamu.
The CountyPro implementation has had good positive impacts as seen in Kiambu County. According to the Budget Implementation Review Report 2014/2015, Kiambu topped in revenue collection among the counties in Central Kenya. In a separate report released last year by the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) led by Micah Cheserem, Kiambu County is among the top five counties that have increased their revenue collection exceedingly.
Kiambu County managed to collect Kshs. 2.1 billion in the year 2014/2015 against a set national target by the controller of budget of Kshs. 718 million. This was estimated by Commission on Revenue Allocation to be a 60% jump in revenue collected as a result of automating their revenue collection process and enhanced revenue collection enforcement strategies.
Kiambu officials have given positive reviews of the system. Kiambu County Governor Hon. William Kabogo during the launch of Kiambu Digitika said, “Automation of revenue collection was simply adopted by the county government of Kiambu in a bid to curb the shortcomings that came with the manual process of collecting money where lots of it was lost and the results are now tangible and can be seen by everyone”. In the same event, ICT Director Mr. Douglas Njirani said, “Strathmore University carried out extensive research in the county around, how we collected revenue in the past, gave us a raft of recommendations before deploying our new County Pro system that is helping seal loopholes, improve decision making and modernize revenue collection. This has given the county agility in finance”.
The system was also rolled out to Taita Taveta County in March 2015. Taita Taveta County Chamber of Commerce Chairman Mr. Pascal Mutula at Wundanyi Sub-County commended the County Government for embracing this technology since cases of corruption would be tamed. On August 4th 2015 the county Governer John Mruttu after meeting with KRA head of operations in Souther Region in Wundanyi, was optimistic about the revenue that will be collected this year. “For the last three months since we computerized revenue collection, we have realized improvements in revenue,” he said. “In 2011, Sh126 million revenue was collected while in 2013-14, it was Sh147 million. Last year we collected Sh216 million,” he said.
The launch of County pro is now underway in Busia County. Speaking at the launch in Busia County, Finance executive Leonard Obimbira said “The system will see Busia achieve its targeted annual revenue of Sh330 million.” The officials seemed optimistic about the returns the County Pro would provide.
Based on the County Governments Budget Implementation Review Report, First Quarter FY 2015/16 Lamu County was among the bottom five Counties in terms of revenue collection with Ksh.7.70 million. Since then, the county has started piloting a couple of revenue collection systems from various vendors CountyPro being one of them. The county officials are optimistic that with the new system (County Pro) revenue will certainly increase.
The Commission on Revenue Allocation on 27th July 2015 suggested that ICT Budget Allocations for counties to be able to take full advantage of ICT related growth and development, there is a need for sufficient ICT budget allocation by the county government. The commission proposed for it to be minimum 5% of the total budget of the county in all the financial years. This will go towards funding and the counties ICT roadmaps developed in line with the National ICT Master Plan and localized to the counties growth and development agenda.
Based on the award of the DigiSchool project to Jomo Kenyatta University and Moi University and the plunge of Strathmore University into county revenue automation project, we can deduce that Kenyan universities are emerging as the newest drivers to the adoption of technology in the country. With the help of high educational centers, Kenya can become a tech savvy nation in all aspects.
In a nation that ranked poorly in the 2013 Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, e-governance and e-payments offer the prospect of transparency and heightened revenue collections, or do they? This piece assesses the hype behind e-governance and e-payment systems, and the reality behind its impact on local revenue collections.
In 2013, the Government of Kenya decentralized its functions, and adopted a system of devolved governments. As a result, forty seven County Governments were elected with the mandate of delivering services, including the provision of health care and the maintenance of local roads at the grassroots.
While devolution promises to transform Kenya through accountable and transparent institutions, inclusive growth, and equitable delivery of public services; the sharing of resources between the national government and the county governments remains a major challenge.
County Governors are pushing to raise their share of the national revenue from 15% to 40%, and notwithstanding Section 132 of the Public Finance Management Act, 2012, which gives County Governments the power to raise revenues from local sources; most counties haven’t achieved their revenue collection targets.
Counties targeted to cumulatively collect Kshs. 67.8 billion in the financial year 2013/14; however, in the first half of the financial year 2013/14, the actual local revenue collections was only Kshs. 9.0 billion, representing 13.2 per cent of their annual target. Many counties had initiated automated or electronic revenue collections, which didn’t result in commensurate upsurge in local revenue collections.
Thus far, County Government initiatives are focused on the deployment of handheld POS terminals, and the provision of electronic/mobile payment options for citizens. However, the perception that revenue losses are a function of cash handling and manual receipting are not entirely accurate.
Undeniably, handheld payment terminals have the potential to lessen revenue pilferage, owing to its ability to update revenue collections in real time, and digitize payment receipts. The terminals surely mitigate the possibility of unscrupulous attendants issuing fake receipts, and stifling collections.
However, to assume that the usage of such terminals exponentially steps up County revenues, one will have to assume graft of ponderous proportions. Additionally, payments aggregated on such handheld devices are confined to a cross section of the revenue sources, constituting, parking, park fees, market fees, etc., which entail small tender payments. Likewise, though mobile and online payment systems add to citizen convenience; the belief that providing citizens with sundry payment options compounds revenues is misguided.
In consequence then, how do County Governments boost revenues?
Stated simply, revenue growth is determined by effective governance.
The complexity in availing services, permits and approvals, for citizens and businesses alike, is painstakingly long, opaque, inefficient and ineffective – leading to revenue leakages and losses. Such revenue forfeiture by County Governments is immense, and might be realized upon timely service delivery.
County Governments are better served in their quest to increase revenues by effectively delivering services, inducing transparently, bolstering accountability and mitigating bureaucratic impediments.
The failings of County Governments in mopping revenues may to such a degree, be attributed to deficient operational resources, weak internal control mechanisms, malfeasance and importantly, the lack of enterprise wide systems to deliver effective governance.
Local governments may deliver on their mandate by embracing holistic e-Governance, entwining operational management, automating inter/intradepartmental workflow, standardizing processes, enforcing control mechanisms, tracking of applications, and delivering of citizen services. Empirically, increased citizen engagement precipitates revenue upsurge and timely revenue receipts.
Strathmore University -@iLabAfrica’s consulting arm, Strathmore Research and Consultancy Centre (SRCC) is leading a consortium that includes Namu, the creators of “CountyPro”, and iPay limited in offering County Government’s integrated end-to-end County Operations Management and Revenue Collections solution.
“CountyPro” is an award winning solution for automating operations/revenue collections in County Governments. The solution manages centralized/decentralized County Government processes, and provides analytical and decision support systems at the County, Sub County, and Ward level. “CountyPro” is the recipient of Certificates of Merit by Skoch International for successive years, for excellence in automating local government functioning, revenue collections and citizen services delivery.
Additionally, the product conforms to Kenyan laws and regulations, and is also compliant with internationally governed security protocol, and global e-Governance standards. The system embraces all the departments and divisions of County Governments, including the management of business permits, land rates, building permits, public works, encroachments, licensing, market rates, housing rentals, parking, encroachments, citizen grievances, revenue collections, GIS enabled land records systems, solid waste disposal, vehicle management/tracking, e-tendering, county finance, and electronic citizen service delivery.
The consortium works closely with the Strathmore Governance Centre, which seeks to promote effective governance in the public, private and civic sectors in the Eastern African region. The centre conducts research and analysis on governance issues, facilitates dialogue, identifies educational needs, develops systems, processes, tools and programs designed to fulfill governance deficiencies.
Strathmore University, in partnership with Namu and iPay recently collaborated to implement a pilot in Gatundu North and Gatundu South Sub Counties of Kiambu County. The pilot, which commenced on April 07, 2014, enabled the residents of Gatundu North and Gatundu Sourth in making online applications for Single Business Permits, tracking application status, and receiving electronic Single Business Permits.
The project additionally featured online Property Registration, and property transactions, together with Land Registry search, and Land Rates/Arrears payments .It also features revenue collections on the ground, including revenues from Parking, Market Fees and Cess. Attendants were equipped with hand held gadgets, which collated collections in the backend, in real time.
All modules were equipped with payment options, comprising mobile money, debit cards, credit cards, charge cards, and agency banking, as also, business intelligence and decision support systems to track payment collections in real time, discern revenue trends, and revenue segmentation – across the revenue sources.
In keeping with Strathmore Consortium’s rationalism, the ICT Authority has recently secured funding to support ICT readiness in delivering services, and strategic Information Systems for Counties, which is supported by USD 30 million funded by the World Bank.
County governments are encouraged to source solutions that automate county processes, integrate backend systems, diminish operator dependency, lower costs, and deliver citizen services, as opposed to merely digitize receipts, and pitch multiple payment channels to citizens.
In conclusion, while handheld POS terminals and electronic payment systems aid the process of citizen services delivery – in isolation, such systems are not an elixir for revenue augmentation for County Governments.
Article by:Tirus Wanyoike
Business Development Manager – @iLabAfrica, Strathmore University
M:(+254) (0) 723 885 209