In an effort to streamline the recently-introduced e-Citizen modalities at all park and reserves entry points, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) hosted a tourism stakeholder’s induction forum at Nairobi National Park’s Clubhouse grounds, Wednesday, 30th August, 2023.
The forum was intended to demystify the e-Citizen platform to all in attendance, as well as satisfy stakeholders’ reservations, and find long-term solutions to pertinent issues raised during the forum.
Addressing the well-attended gathering, KWS Board of Trustees Chair, Lt. Gen. (Rtd.) Walter Raria Koipaton felt honoured by the stakeholders’ sacrificing their time to explore and internalize the e-Citizen ecosystem. He said that all concerns raised would eventually streamline and improve the system, because the platform recognizes the importance of Kenya’s tourists to the economy, in addition to stakeholders providing employment opportunities for Kenyans through their tour operator businesses.
Lt. Gen. (Rtd) Koipaton averred that the new system was still under review, informing stakeholders that their collaboration and feedback was paramount, because there is no turning back from the e-Citizen platform. He empathized with the Service clients who were inconvenienced since the launch of the platform across KWS parks. The Chairman said that the system was still under review, adding that stakeholders were in a position to contribute to the betterment of e-Citizen, which, when all challenges are ironed out, will reduce corruption, improve efficiency and enhance transparency and confidence in the sector. He advised stakeholders to take advantage of the e-Citizen’s built in allowance for clients to pay in advance for park entry services, because the system is designed to protect all its users.
KWS Director General Dr. Erustus Kanga welcomed tourism stakeholders in attendance, lauding them for their patriotism in offering their visitors’ world-class services, to ensure repeat visits and enhanced revenues. He said that the National Treasury and e-Citizen collaborated to demonstrate to stakeholders the features and utilization of the e-Citizen digital platform in accessing KWS-managed parks, reserves, sanctuaries and other related services.
Dr. Kanga lauded the e-Citizen platform as a beacon of convenience and efficiency, which bestows Kenyans with opportunities to seamlessly interact with government services, steering Kenya towards a future marked by streamlined, transparent processes. “In this transitional phase of migrating from our previous revenue collection systems to the e-Citizen platform, your support and understanding have been invaluable, even as you navigate the challenges,” DG said, adding that the induction served to empower stakeholders in utilizing the platform, effective since 22nd August, 2023.
Dr. Kanga assured stakeholders of KWS’s resolve to ensure smooth operations at all Service points, in adherence to legal mandates. Kanga explained that the Service vision for the system encompassed heightened internal efficiency, convenience and security, adding that KWS staff had undergone meticulous training to assist clients in making seamless payments.
Dr. Kanga acknowledged the teething challenges encountered during the platform’s implementation the previous week, adding that there was substantial progress in its adaptation in spite of these bottlenecks; he implored for stakeholders continued support and understanding during the transition period. The DG reminded attendees that e-Citizen is a government-driven process, urging Kenyans to demonstrate patriotism by supporting the platform.
He stated that KWS had emerged as a model government institution that had taken the lead in adapting the platform, regardless of the challenges faced during the transition, lauding stakeholders and staff for embracing technology. “E-citizen is efficient and effective, and it is the desire of government to be able to map out all services offered by its various arms,” Dr. Kanga concluded.
E-Citizen Services Director General Ambassador Isaac Ochien’g acknowledged stakeholder concerns about the e-Citizen platform. He explained that it was created in 2012, after the World Bank and Kenya’s National Treasury contracted local I.T. experts to explore government service delivery online to eliminate corruption. By 2013, 300 services were available through the e-Citizen platform. In December 2022, His Excellency President Ruto directed that all government services were to be accessed through the e-Citizen platform which is 100% government-owned. Subsequently, in January 2023, President Ruto issued an Executive Order which saw the creation of the e-Citizen Directorate, and Ambassador Ochieng’s appointment as its DG. The platform’s technical working team consists of officers from the National Treasury, ICT ministry, National Intelligence Service (NIS) and the Ministry of Defence.
To date, there are 7,500 services on boarded on e-Citizen, which has translated to enhanced revenue collection (some by up to 300%, such as the Directorate of Immigration Department). The Presidential Directive will see all government services on boarded by 30th September, 2023, and the e-Citizen ecosystem will eventually empower Kenya to be self-sustaining and evolve away from debilitating loans. Ambassador Ochien’g was categorical that Kenya’s future was rooted in e-Citizen: there is no turning back.
Silas Osuda from the National Treasury, in charge of digital payments, made a presentation to stakeholders. He explained that e-Citizen is the only legal platform prescribed for government revenues collection, adding that the slight turbulence experienced in the platform’s implementation would be streamlined in due course.
Mr. Osuda said that there were three ministries in charge of the platform: Ministry of Interior – where the e-Citizen Directorate sits, the National Treasury and the Ministry of ICT, which is in charge of the platform - the gateway to all government services guided by Chapter 12 of the Kenya Constitution, Part III – Public Finance Management Act.
Mr. Osuda explained the rationale of the e-Citizen platform as being the modernization of government payments in keeping with the digital economy blueprint and facilitating electronic reconciliation. It would streamline services by: digitalization and digitization; sharing of data for transparency; being a single entry point for all government services and digitize all inbound government payments.
A practical demonstration of the e-Citizen platform modalities was shown to stakeholders, using Nairobi National Park as an example of how citizen and non-resident clients would access an e-ticket after logging onto the e-Citizen portal and following prompts. The list of queries led to the establishment of a booth at KWS - manned by e-Citizen and Service staff - to tackle the most pressing stakeholder concerns and create a sustainable and customer-friendly system.
The stakeholders fielded questions to a panel consisting of KWS DG, E-Citizen Services DG, National Treasury representative and I.T. experts from e-Citizen.
In attendance at the induction forum were representatives from Kenya Tourism Board (KTB), Tour Operators Society of Kenya, Kenya Association of Tour Operators, Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers, Kenya Association of Air Operators, Kenya Association of Women in Tourism, East Africa Tour Driver Guide Association, Watamu Tourism Association, Kenya Coast Tourism Association, Kenya Tour Driver Guides Association, Eco-Tourism Kenya, Kenya Professional Safari Guides Association and private and independent tour operators.