Digitalisation is the only medicine for corruption

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Digitalisation is the only medicine for corruption
Sharp Mugabe

Many officials in various spaces have argued that the fight against corruption is a matter of mindset change and patriotism.

By Sharp Mugabe

On April 4, I witnessed the launch of the Online Business Registration System (OBRS) that was held together with the Registrar General’s mid-year stakeholder engagement at the bureau’s headquarters.

The OBRS is a fully-fledged electronic system that facilitates seamless registration of companies, business names, legal documents, insolvency and other related services.

Since December 2022 when URSB operationalised the OBRS, the system has facilitated the collection of over Shs90 billion  which goes directly to the national coffers through the Uganda Revenue Authority – no one touches this money physically.

If you went through the hustle and tussle of registering a company before this digitalisation came, when you had to physically carry documents to a busy branch near your, line up in queues or pay huge amounts of money to save you the hurdle, you must appreciate this digital transformation.

Besides, you had to wait for several weeks to have your business fully incorporated even after going through “hell!”.

According to Ms Mercy Kainobwisho, the registrar general and official receiver, a business name is registered in under 30 minutes, companies in 3 to 4 hours, while certification of documents is instant.

The Online Business Registration System provides convenience and accessibility, enhances accountability and transparency, reduces processing time, saves costs, facilitates compliance, promotes a conducive business environment, fosters digital economy growth, and enhances the country’s global competitiveness.

In the period July to March 2023/24, URSB registered 20,160 companies compared to 15,222 companies registered in the same period the previous year.

This indicates a 32.4 percent improvement in performance partly attributed to the adoption of the digitalised processes through the OBRS.

Mr Christopher Ntale, the director for Business Registration at URSB, also highlighted the benefits of the system which included curbing revenue leakage, improved access to services, reduced cost of compliance and registration and improved regulatory oversight by government.

Dr Aminah Zawedde, who represented the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, reiterated the Ministry’s commitment to supporting government Ministries, Agencies and Departments in digitalising their processes by implementing the Digital Transformation Roadmap which focuses on five pillars: Digital Infrastructure & Connectivity; Digital Services; Cyber Security, Data Protection & Privacy; Digital Skills; Innovation & Entrepreneurship.

Electronic Government Procurement (eGP) is another amazing innovation also developed in the same arrangement as the OBRS by the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance under the National Information Technology Authority (NITA). This will also be officially launched soon with multiple improvements made since its operationalisation.

Other significant reflections of digitalisation of government services can be observed in the processes of applying, renewing and replacing passports and driver licence.

I was very excited when I had my driving permit renewed in less than 30 minutes last year, a process which happened seamlessly without going through corners.

President Museveni in several of his speeches has emphasised the importance of ICT as an enabler of economic growth.

Whenever human face-to-face interaction is reduced in any government service, efficiency, reliability and cost reduction is clearly experienced which not only makes life easy but also contributes to socio-economic transformation of the nation.

It either reduces corruption or kicks it out completely and therefore saves the government lots of money which is in turn invested in other programmes of service delivery.

Many officials in various spaces have argued that the fight against corruption is a matter of mindset change and patriotism.

These processes take a long time – through generations and are not entirely sustainable since they depend on many uncontrollable circumstances.

With the goodwill already witnessed in various government entities, corruption will tremendously reduce if most of the government processes are made digital – where there are fewer or no human interactions.

For God and My Country.

_________________________________________________________

Mr Sharp Mugabe works with the Government Citizen Interaction Centre.

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