African governments lagging in service delivery

Posted on October 15, 2012 10:16 pm

In more than ten African countries I have visited, there is something common about governments service delivery.Most Africans will tell you that without money government officers rarely provide services on time. There is no doubt that they are years behind best practice when it comes to delivering high quality customer service to their citizens ranging from birth and death registration, issuance of passports and identity cards among others. What most governments have failed to realize is that rebuilding services to citizens is a multi-year journey.Some countries in Africa are decades behind as compared to my home country of Australia where best practices of service delivery are common in various government departments.Most governments in Africa have never taken contact centres, reliable phone numbers and websites serious as a way of offering top notch service provisions.In my opinion, they are key to quality of service delivery to citizens.

Simple efficiencies such as a single license card for the many licenses issued by the governments should be introduced.One way of achieving this for governments in Africa would be to have a smart card capable of storing all of a citizen’s details on a single chip-equipped card and this will for example eliminate chronic problem of identification in African countries. Changing the way government delivers services is not just an issue of reducing the number of store fronts and websites.It should also be a cultural change within the governments in Africa and public service. Governments should also figure out how to better set up internally and it shouldn’t be just process and policy together with cultural change within the governments must be implemented. Technology uptake is equally critical while the people are critical to the transformation of service delivery in government departments. Rebuilding infrastructure, public service commission, investigating the role and functioning of the public service and overseen by efficient units, will effectively bring total transformation in the way government delivers policy to citizens in Sub Saharan Africa.

Contador Harrison