IT experts offer counties answers to revenue leaks

As counties seek lasting solutions to seal corruption loopholes to increase revenue collection, IT experts seem to have found the answer.

Experts say the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution can help counties like Nairobi save Sh100 million every month, money that is paid out to ghost workers as salaries and help streamline revenue collection.

Agnes Gathaiya, the director of Large Enterprise SAP Africa region, said if counties use ERP solutions, they will not only enhance their revenue collections, but will also make it easier and faster to make decisions.

The ERP will enable interaction of all offices and functions of the county in a single computer system, serving all the needs of county officials and citizens.

“SAP is already helping different counties to come up with road maps to deploy systems that can manage their services such as revenue collection, revenue slippage and human resource,” Ms Gathaiya said.

She added that counties with many revenue streams experience more challenges compared to those with fewer ones and the ERP solutions can help boost efficiency.

“There are some counties with as much as 60 revenue streams while others have only below 10, those with very few revenue streams should take advantage of cloud solutions. Cloud solution will enable them lease the system on a monthly basis and save them from investing in infrastructure such as serves and human capacity,” she said.

A report on Nairobi City Hall revealed that some workers appeared on the payroll up to five times using the same names, but different identity card numbers.

There were also cases of a large number of retired or deceased employees in the payroll who continued to draw salaries from the county government every month.

With the ERP suite, payrolls can be streamlined, laying foundation for the county governments’ future growth into efficient units.

Many challenges

Almost one year after the county governments came into being, there is very little to write home about them, with majority still struggling with challenges such as weeding out ghost workers, corruption and how to boost their revenues.

These challenges have made it difficult for the county governments to meet citizens’ expectation. The situation has been made worse by the counties rushing to find new revenue streams either by introducing new levies or increasing the rates, instead of looking into ways of how they can optimise their revenue collections and tame corruption.

IT experts note that this trend can be reversed by using IT solutions such as ERP in human resource, finance and procurement departments.

However, Ms Gathaiya says deployment of IT systems without commitment of the CEO or governor may not guarantee the desired results.

“The CEO or the governor sets the agenda and tone, unless the project is being driven from that front, its objectives may not be achieved even if the IT systems are not implemented,” she said.

Several conferences have been held in the country to sensitise the county government to adopt IT solutions with the most recent one taking place in Naivasha.

The meeting was attended by International Telecommunication Union (ITU) secretary-general Hamadoun Toure. Next month from 16th-17th another summit—Connected Kenya 2014 will be held in Mombasa mainly focusing on how county governments can use IT services to enhance service delivery.

“It doesn’t matter whether you are talking about climate or economics, urbanisation or employment digital applications are reshaping every facet of our existence and presenting us with bewildering array of opportunities and threats,” Victor Kyalo, the ICT Authority chief executive said.

The Connected Kenya Summit 2014 will explore and highlight key barriers to adoption and implementation of ICT in counties, among crucial citizen demographics and within the government.

Understanding the barriers to successful implementation of ICT project will pave the way for counties to explore how to mitigate these challenges.

During the Naivasha summit, Mr Toure noted that the biggest challenge for the national government is to align its e-government initiative with those of the county governments.

“When I met the governors in Naivasha I was very delighted on their enthusiasm about using ICT solutions to enhance their service delivery to the citizens,” Mr Toure said.

The national government has embarked on a project to ensure that all the 47 counties are connected to broadband as it moves to deliver its services online.

The broadband connectivity will make it possible to deploy services such as Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and video conferencing facilities among others.

VoIP will allow government officers to make free calls between the connected offices while the video-conferencing facilities will allow the officers to conduct virtual meetings to cut government travelling and telephone budgets.

The networking is part of a wider e-government scheme seeking to boost the efficiency of its service delivery by providing the missing link that has made it difficult to launch electronic delivery to the citizens.

The article first appeared on the Daily Nation

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