Govt eyes mobile platform

November 26, 2010
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, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 26 – The government will in the next three months embark on an ambitious programme to shift all its online information and services onto the mobile phone platform.

Information Permanent Secretary Dr Bitange Ndemo disclosed on Friday that they plan to start with transferring data from the Transport Ministry as they seek to further enhance service delivery.

“The entire e-government is moving onto a mobile platform. From February, an officer at the Transport Ministry can find out whether any vehicle on Kenyan road has a road license or whether it’s stolen by simply sending an SMS (Short Message Service),” the PS said.

Although he did not divulge details of how this exercise will be carried out, the PS said these changes will be implemented as the government seeks to reach all citizens and enhance their participation in policy processes and the promotion of accountability in the running of the country.

“About 52 percent or the entire adult population in Kenya has a mobile phone so if you want to communicate with them; you will find them in that platform,” Dr Ndemo said adding that they expected the initiative to be a success as it would be boosted by the low calling rate environment.

The government has been entering into partnerships with the private sector to roll out digital villages across the country through which Kenyans particularly those in the rural areas will be able to electronically access the services and information.

Once it is rolled out, Dr Ndemo said the project portends a huge opportunity for the private sector to reach the mass market and improve their productivity and bottom line.

The PS spoke during the launch of CIC Insurance premium payment platform dubbed ‘M-Bima’ where he challenged the insurance companies to adopt new technological innovations such as social media networks to push their products and services which can in turn spur the growth of the sector.

He said the firms need to start aggressively marketing their products through online media such as Facebook and Twitter where they can capture the attention of more young people.

“There are four million Kenyan youth on Facebook. So if you put an advert on Facebook, four million (people) would see it. But if you put it in the local newspapers, hardly half a million would see it,” he said.

Dr Ndemo said these companies should leverage on the rapidly increasing internet usage in the country to increase insurance penetration which is currently at 2.8 percent.

“You are looking for these people (clients) in the wrong places. Adverts are going online and there is no turning back,” he asserted.

Firms that have embraced digital marketing the PS said had already started reaping the benefits leading to the growth of the businesses.

The PS spoke during the launch of CIC Insurance premium payment platform dubbed ‘M-Bima’ through which policyholders in the lower end market can remit as little as Sh20 through their cell phones.

Managing Director Nelson Kuria explained that they had entered into a partnership with Safaricom to use their M-PESA service and would soon bring on board the money transfer services of Airtel, Essar Telecom and Telkom Kenya through which customers will be able to pay for their policies for free.

“This is one of the solutions to the challenges involved in penetrating the low- income market and developing cost efficient insurance distribution and payment mechanisms,” Mr Kuria said of the system which had cost them Sh5 million to develop.
 

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