Despite years of anarchy, Somalia has a successful ICT sector, providing one of the most cost-effective voice and data service in Africa. More than 2 million people make their way into the internet and the onset of COVID-19 pandemic and measures imposed to contain the spread of the pandemic has exacerbated the use of the Internet. The COVID-19 crisis has also brought new needs for digitalization of public and private services to the citizens. With increasing availability and quality of internet connectivity as well as new communication technologies in Somalia, private sector has been moving into the digital and embraces new digital services every-day. Many services are available online today such money transfers, transportation, food delivery and shopping.
With realization of fast growing Internet, digital information technology and Somalia has the cheapest data in Africa where 1GB of data costs $0.55 on average, ranked top seven in the world. Mobile money is the primary access point to financial services in Somalia where 73% of the population over the age of 16 use mobile money services according to the World Bank Report in 2017. With all these developments, Somalia ranks 191th worldwide in adoption of the e-government system according to a recent survey published by the United Nations in 2020.
More and more often, people see no reason why public services should be paper-based and that government does not take advantage of growing Internet connectivity and new technologies to transform its public services. Despite of development of first ICT Policy and Strategy 2019-2024 to facilitate Somalia’s digital transformation, local authorities still rely on legacy systems in a time of 89% of the people would like to see digitization of government services. Due to limited advocacy and concentration, the adoption of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to improve better delivery of government services to citizens is the least progressive area, and there’s little chance of meeting ambitions laid out in the country’s ICT Policy and Strategy.
With support of Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), Bareedo Platform organises a roundtable discussion for Mogadishu Municipality’s officials, commissioners of Mogadishu’s districts, academia, media and other important stakeholders in Mogadishu, Somalia. The main objective of this discussion is to advocate and push for Mogadishu Municipality to adopt e-governance practices and use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to improve better delivery of government services to citizens, empower citizens through access to information, and improve interactions between citizens and public officials.
Mohamed Abokor, Director of Bareedo Platform says “There is no excuse and hesitation to stay at paper-based era while we have a good Internet connection and that 80% of our population has mobile phones. We need to come up something that can pave a way to the adoption of e-governance practices in Mogadishu”
In this discussion meeting, officials will know more about e-government concept and also examples of cities that successfully adopted e-governance. And after, they will have an open discussion focusing on adopting e-governance system at Mogadishu Municipality, how to be adopted and implemented the digitization of public services and the challenges surrounding to the process. The discussion is also expected to address the challenges and barriers that residents and Mogadishu Municipality encounter on the process of effective and efficient service delivery in the face of continued insecurity and political instability weights particular to Mogadishu.
At end of the meeting, Bareedo Platform will produce a detailed report covering entire discussion and hope that this will add weight on ongoing efforts to encourage government to digitize its services.