The delivery of public services in Cameroon is moving from the face to face format to more digitalised methods wherein candidates for exams can register online and employees track documents online. This is in line with recommendations from the United Nations.
The Minister of Public Service and Administrative Reforms, Joseph LE made this remark in a Keynote speech at a conference to mark the Africa Public Service Day commemorated every June 23.
This year’s theme of focus is, “The role of the fourth industrial revolution in reorganising service delivery and recovery during and after a pandemic”.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution, a Turning Point for Public Services
The fourth industrial revolution is also known as the digital revolution or Industry 4.0.
Minister Joseph LE explains further, “It is characterised by a total integration of all information between the physical world and the digital world in the production processes.”
This therefore involves relieving organisations of the constraints related to bureaucracy, physical devices or acquisition and maintaining hardware platforms by systematising the use of information technology.
In championing Industry 4.0, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs has developed an index used to rank digital governments, the E-Government Development Index (EGDI).
The EGDI uses a biennial survey to measure the ability of Governments to deliver public services digitally.
Under the EGDI, Cameroon is ranked 146th out of 193 countries worldwide with Denmark, Australia and the Republic of Korea topping the chart.
Cameroon’s Public Service on the Offensive
Cameroon, though ranked 146th out of 193 countries, is set to keep winning places.
The Head of State, President Paul Biya in his address to the nation on 31st December 2018 said, “It is necessary for us to do more to incorporate digital progress into the functioning of our public services and our economy. The developing digital society will not wait for laggards”.
In addition to this determination, the COVID-19 Pandemic and its imposing of social distancing gave the Government of Cameroon even more reasons to decide to change to a more digital, user-friendly approach.
This led to the introduction of concepts like telework and video-conferencing in the country’s public administration.
On its part, the Ministry of Public Service and Administrative Reforms as key provider of services to the people has engaged in the move from analogue to digital especially with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.
MINFOPRA, Gateway to Digital Services
Amongst measures taken by the Ministry of Public Service and Administrative Reforms to modernise the delivery of services are the following:
– Introduction of oral examinations in Government competitive examinations by video-conferencing. This was possible by interconnecting the ten Regional Delegations of MINFOPRA to the central services through the optical fibre. This move also made it possible to extend SIGIPES in the regions as well as access to the central archives database. Services rendered at this level include: the certification of administrative documents and withdrawal of signed documents. This has served in limiting the movement of users to Yaounde.
– Registration procedure of candidates for various recruitments into the public service are now done online, pending the submission of physical documents.
– Partnership agreement signed with CAMTEL for Cloud Computing. This infrastructure will enable MINFOPRA secure data and host some of its business services.
– The new SIGIPES will offer the possibility to manage the time and presence of public employees at work through biometric terminals. This will enable calculation of salary based on attendance, in order to remunerate the civil servant according to the number of days put at work.
– Implementation of a time-stamp system for documents which will ensure the confidentiality of public records through an online platform.
– A Public Archiving System is also under works to regulate the flow of physical documents.
– Social media presence to interact with users through WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, electronic messaging. The main contact address is email@example.com.
– Set up of a video exchange channel between users and the Minister of Public Service called “YOU & US”.
– The Electronic Notice Board. It enables MINFOPRA to display on its website, the list of all signed documents so that those concerned can read them and request for them electronically before the withdrawal of hard copies.
– Online consultation of files through http://dossier.minfopra.gov.cm. With this, users can follow the processing of their files online.
– A Call Centre where all user concerns are handled by phone and WhatsApp free of charge using the toll-free number 1522.
With these already existing measures, the Minister of Public Service and Administrative Reforms, Joseph LE says his Ministry and Cameroon are making strides in modernising delivery of services to the public.
He however says more has to be done and his team is already on the drawing board with new projects in view.
Eleanor Ayuketah Ngochi