@iLabAfrica in partnership with key industry players offered this 4-day course which offered an approach to sustainable revenue mobilization and enforcement in local governments and looks at means of improving core revenue processes, systems, data quality, skills and organizational structures.
The course was graced with the presence of senior and middle managers in the revenue/finance departments of County Governments, including Directors, Chief Officers, Sub-county Administrators, Revenue Officers, and Members of the County Assembly (MCAs), in charge of the budgeting process. It was well represented with county officials from all over the country.
On the first day, through Dr. Walter Ongeti and Mr. Stephen Khadondi, the participants were challenged on disruptive strategic thinking and creative destruction – to shift the paradigm towards performance management in revenue collection through change management. They were also enlightened on the revenue mobilization constitutional mandate and PFM Architecture Analysis.
On the second day, the participants were able to gain and understand a lot on domestic resource mobilization policy, legal framework and administration as well as revenue enforcement strategies through a panel discussion that consisted representatives from CRA, COB, ICPAK, KRA, IFMIS and KIPPRA among others.
Douglas Gicho, the ICT Director of Kiambu, during his afternoon session touched on holistic e-Governance and public-private partnerships on revenue collection and mobilization.
CRA Director, Sheila Yieke shed light on CRA Recommended County Revenue Laws, their implementation and revenue target setting on the third day. Stephen Masha reviewed the mandate of the COB in County Revenue Collection and Resource Mobilization.
On the final day Professor David Sperling, one of the founders of Strathmore University addressed the County Officials on economic growth, sustainable growth and equity. They were very amazed at how knowledgeable he is about kenya and development.
Banking institutions also had their representatives in the area. They focused on maximum utilization of banking capabilities in revenue collection enhancement and introduction of cashless systems.
In the end each County had a representative who shared how they’ve benefited from the course and how they would use the recently acquired knowledge within their own counties.
We acknowledge the CountyPro team that made the 4-day course a great success.
The Connected Summit award 2016 took place in Diani. The summit is the brainchild of the ICT Authority in consultation with ICT industry players and key government decision makers. This event saw @iLabAfrica Revenue automation system dubbed “CountyPro” take second place in innovative solutions under the category of County Solutions.
CountyPro is an online system that enables county governments to collect and manage revenue.It is a Solution centered on holistic e-Governance that enables citizens to easily access county government services online. This innovation by the Strathmore Research and Consultancy Centre via @iLabAfrica, allows Online application submissions, business process re-engineering, inter/intra departmental applications processing, workflow automation, electronic payments, digitized receipting and Electronic delivery of services, documents, certificates, permits and licenses.
Already in three counties: Kiambu, Taita Taveta and Busia, CountyPro has managed to increase efficiency and effectiveness in processing applications and accessing the revenue the county has collected. CountyPro has the capacity to accurately assess the revenue base and has flexible, secure payment options for citizen convenience. The ssystem also prevents revenue embezzlement. Taita Taveta County enjoyed an increase in revenue in the month of May 2015 by 73% thanks to CountyPro. The system brings anytime anywhere access to the Government, 24 hours a day 365 days a year.
CountyPro has proved to be an award winning solution for automating operations and revenue collections in the county governments.
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.
UN-Habitat, Ericsson and Strathmore University Select Kiambu County for Pilot Project to Address Urban Challenges in Kenya
Kiambu County has been selected to be part of a pilot project seeking to incorporate youth in developing and implementing technological solutions to solve urban challenges facing the country. Dubbed Urban Hackday, the event took place from Friday 25th- Saturday 26th September, and hosted youth from around Kenya together with experts in the field who gathered at Strathmore University’s, @iBizAfrica to develop technological solutions that can be used to improve urban areas.
The Urban Hackday is part of a larger project known as the Innovation Marketplace, a pilot program being undertaken by UN-Habitat in collaboration with Ericsson and Strathmore—@iLabAfrica Research Centre, to develop, test and implement technology solutions together with youth and county governments in Kenya.
Participants formed teams around four major thematic areas: Local Economy, City Planning, Urban Basic Services and Local Governance with oversight from mentors sourced from local government, technology companies and urban practitioners.
The event attracted over 40 participants, five county representatives from Kiambu and five mentors. MatQ emerged the winners with their innovative web and mobile application to improve the governance and management of matatu (local bus) stops in Kenya. The application aims to make interaction between matatu SACCOs, local government and travellers easier.
Second placed were Smart Reporters. They designed a web based and mobile platform for work evaluation based on county residents’ feedback on service delivery. It is aimed at solving the problem of poor service delivery. Auto Tech were number three with a web and mobile application that aids in data collection with analytics and visualization. Examples of data being collected include water and electricity consumptions to aid the county in planning purposes. This is because the current mode of data collection is bulky, cumbersome, with human error and lacks visualization.
The best solution was decided through a judging panel composed of experts from UN-Habitat, Strathmore University, Ericsson and prolific entrepreneurs and will be incubated at @iLabAfrica for the rest of the year towards developing it to a prototype that can be tested at the county level to improve their processes. Speaking about the event, UN Under-Secretary-General and UN-Habitat Executive Director, Dr. Joan Clos, said: “Youth make up an increasing part of our urban fabric and must be seen as development partners if we are to build truly sustainable cities.
This project seeks to connect young voices, often marginalized and from informal settlements, with governance and meaningful participation, using ICT as a tool.” Robert Rudin, Country Managing Director, Ericsson Kenya said: “By 2050, about 70 percent of the world’s population is expected to reside in urban areas. This explosive growth combined with the rapid uptake of broadband creates new opportunities to address economic, environmental and social challenges.
Ensuring that African cities are connected and sustainable will improve the lives of millions of people. We are therefore excited to see the ideas of these young innovators that could potentially transform how we live, play and do business.” The Innovation Marketplace is aimed at working together three key dynamics in our world today: the growing number of young urban citizens, ICT proliferation and the devolution process. These three are set to change the functioning of cities and their sustainability, a core mandate and focus of UN-Habitat.
The devolution process in Kenya presents opportunities for advancing innovation and making use of ICT to foster good governance promoted by youth. In addition, it could yield a methodology on structured, result-oriented and scalable action that can be applied across counties. A methodology builds bridges between youth, county governments, the private sector and local tech communities for the purpose of creating a more sustainable, just, democratic and equitable devolved system of government and improved service delivery.
Dr. Joseph Sevilla, Director of Strathmore—@iLabAfrica Research Centre said “The Centre is pleased to collaborate with the UN-Habitat and Ericsson in the Innovation Marketplace project that seeks to build capacity at the county level in Kenya around the use of ICTs as a tool for good governance and youth engagement. We are happy to provide support to the winning team through our incubation program at @iBizAfrica, which provides a nurturing environment that builds on the potential of the youth to develop ICT solutions that work for the common good in society.”
Participation in the hackathon was open to all with various programming, coding, design and other technical skills and those with an interest in urban planning, marketing, social change through an application process, which closed on 11th September. Selection of participants was jointly done by UN-Habitat and Strathmore to ensure a good mix and balance of skill.
This article was first published in the UnHabitat Website but has been edited accordingly.