Bringing digital transformation into practice.
First and foremost, we must change our thinking. Technology will catch up.
A photograph of people queuing at the Shukraraj Infectious and Tropical Disease Hospital in Teku to receive a certificate stating that they have been vaccinated made the top pages of newspapers and social media posts last week.
It wasn’t that the folks weren’t given immunization certificates; they just weren’t international-acceptable since they didn’t follow international standards and weren’t written in English. In most nations, the vaccination procedure has been conducted entirely online, including registration, scheduling appointments, and even receiving certificates. In Nepal, however, we prefer to ensure that the computerized process includes manual intervention.
The same is true when filling out the online registration form. First, the site is frequently unavailable, with the notice “Your session has expired.” On arrival, the barcode on the form is never scanned. Instead, there is a second manual set of records, this time handwritten. The hotel’s name is written on a handwritten chit.
That is the foundation for getting oneself through the process of arriving. Similarly, people were invited to fill out forms online for vaccinations, but no one was ever asked to present the produced code to the immunization process. This demonstrates how far we are from fully internalizing the digital process.
Why can’t we go digital?
Our apprehension to go digital stems from four factors. To begin with, the manual procedure allows for human interaction, which means money can change hands or the process can be influenced.
For example, computerized scanning of locked containers at customs means that the people can’t make any money, thus the best option is to make sure the scanner doesn’t work. When procurement processes are in progress, it’s not uncommon for the server to crash, since a manual alternative for the process can result in much-needed manual intervention. It’s rare to see the system in action at the Registrar of Companies because there’s no money to be gained by touts and bureaucrats if the system works flawlessly.
The second reason is our fondness for documentation. Even in banking and financial services, where most things have gone digital and automated, people still want a copy of their citizenship certificate or a manual form.
I lose track of how many times I submit the same document to the same bank office in a year. Yes, they want to be safe because if a dispute gets to court, the judge will want everything on paper. So, while you may be conducting all of your business digitally, if something goes wrong and you need to go to court, only the manual paperwork will be considered.
Third, because protectionism has been a major factor, we must develop our own digital solutions. Local cartels know how to push local solutions because governments don’t want foreign software.
As a result, we have a stock exchange solution that is archaic in comparison to the modern alternatives available from foreign service providers. We have severe concerns with international solutions, just as we do with international law, accounting, and consulting organizations.
Finally, we are not proponents of outsourcing. Even the most delicate digital work is being outsourced globally to qualified companies. Outsource the process to several good organizations that can handle issuing driver’s licenses and vehicle registration solutions. Get on board any companies that can manage digital identification for financial objectives.
Let’s learn from what works
Our taxation system is simpler than that of our neighbors, and it is fairly robust given the number of locations where personal intervention is required.
Yes, leakages persist; nevertheless, for organizations that want to do business in a clean manner, the system is rather well oiled, and a considerable portion of one’s tax management may be managed without human interaction. Likewise, the passport issuance system has performed admirably. It could be better, but considering the volume handled, it’s pretty good. We must take note of what works.
In Rwanda, the full government-to-citizen service is delivered via the Irembo digital platform. This has made services more efficient because this portal can be used to pay for everything from passports, driver’s licenses, and PCR tests to trade fees.
There is no longer any manual intervention. The Rwandan government is conscious of the digital divide, and many services can be accessed even if a person only has a basic phone and does not have access to a smartphone. The government is currently proposing a subsidy system for people to be able to purchase basic versions of smartphones in order to make this service available to its inhabitants. Unlike in Nepal, where people go back to cash after the lockdown ends, digital payment has flourished in Rwanda during the pandemic. It’s also about the adoption mindset.
We are essentially living in two universes, thus digital transformation is the only way forward. We use the most advanced social media platforms, watch material on platforms, and use email and other software platforms just like every other citizen in the world in one world.
We converse on the most technological platforms, which are constantly updated and improved. That’s something we’re quite excellent at! When it comes to offering or receiving services, though, we prefer the traditional variety—go manual, shun digital.
This perspective must shift since the problem is not in the use of technology, but in the mindset of making it work for day-to-day tasks as well.
If someone can figure out how to set up a VPN to access pornography or discover free sites to watch a football game or a favorite movie, they should be able to figure out how to apply for a driver’s license online and have it delivered to their door.