The basic cornerstone of good governance are quality of service, quick response mechanism and above all, accountable and transparent process mechanism but the existing systems does not reflect any of these in any of its activities across all sectors and arm of government in Africa.
Mobile Government is extending the concept of government further with delivery of information and services to the doorsteps of the citizens in a personalized way via what they already have, the mobile phone.
Mobile Government is the next inevitable direction of evolution of e-Government. It is about modernizing the public sector organizations – hence the business processes the work and the workers – using mobile technologies, applications and services. M-government is not only about technology but rather how technology revolutionize the public sector activities and how the society adopts these technologies. Africa is one of the leading continents with growing mobile penetration.
M-government is a two way traffic. While government provisions some services via the mobile phone, the citizens too will be required to make payments to the government for some services using same channel. The challenges of making mobile micro payments in Africa is the core challenge of the adopting of Mobile government in Africa. Being able to make payments conveniently and securely is an essential ingredient in Mobile government.
Mobile government payment circle could take many forms like Government to citizens ( pension, wages, loans), citizens to Government ( taxes, contributions, loan repayments, levies, utilities ) .
Governance in Africa is structured along the colonial master’s master plan without a recourse to the local operating environment which differs significantly. While electronic payments is a way of life in Europe and North America, same cannot be said of in Africa. European economies are better managed with very efficient tax collection systems,African Nations are still grappling with ability to collect citizens taxes. Inability of Governments in this regards in the past were the cost of collecting small payments across disperse populations, far flung geographic locations and reach.
Mobile Money helps to solve all the challenges militating against these untapped government revenue sources. Reach is achievable via mobile payment technologies using third party retail outlets in the local communities without a need for long Bus trips to pay taxes at central locations of State capitals.
The services can be delivered at significant cost reduction for the government and the citizens using low cost mobile payment technologies.Record keeping capabilities are enhanced through receipt issuance capability of mobile payment technologies which reduces the potentials for fund diversion or fraud. The back end server also updates each payee at the back server which may be connected to the central government data systems for real timely updates.
Forward thinking, a city like Lagos (Nigeria) with 20 million inhabitants, more than 700 standard eateries and 600 gas stations can quickly convert these outlets to citizens engagement outlets to serve a significant proportion of the populations. With estimated 3 dollars per month tax payment rate for the millions of non government workers, artisan and non formal workers, government will rake in 6million dollar monthly if only 10 percent of the population pays up and 72 million dollars annually. That will go a long way in providing basis amenities that are currently lacking.
More than ever before, African Nations can engage the citizens in a more effective and efficient method of collecting government revenues across all strata of the economy for meaningful and purposeful development without dependence on extractive industries which fuels corruption and environmental degradation and leads to unrest like in the case of Niger Delta of Nigeria.