First of all, I did not expected this, really, for Kazakhstan to be on the real path of for a Global E-Government society.
But, before i get in medias res I would like to abuse my position and strongly and honestly underline that on the first day — a day prior to the start of the Global E-Government Forum in Astana — everything went smoothly and frankly it was inspirational.
Inspirational, in the sense of being introduced to colleague participants of the Forum from Panama, China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Singapore, United Nations, Turkey, Republic of Korea, Philippines, Hungary, Ethiopia and East Timur, during the so-called “easy” day of pre-Forum when we all (1,300 participants and key speakers) were arriving from 79 countries (sharply up from the 50 announced mid-September) while we all at the same time tried to prepare for tomorrow’s launch of the program.
The pre-Forum day included a city tour, in which we visited all the important parts of Astana, including the Aquarium, Bayterak Tower, The Independence Palace, Pyramid – the Palace of Peace and Accord and Towers of Golden Loveliness, which was followed by a showcase tour where we visited E-Government Public services in Astana, including the “ordinarian” the singular and special office for the registration of vehicles and driving licenses.
And, yes, the system works so good that visitors are able to get within a few minutes any kind of needed document, and free of charge, and even more impressive is that not only does the system work, but it is possible within 90% of the cases to find documents that are needed for everyday life.
Imagine. Instead of spending days in a line in front of a bureaucratic box, you just press couple of buttons and you actually get whatever you want. Additionally, there is a special intranet that has been installed to avoid hackers.
And to top that, they even have special mobile teams for remote cities. (To learn more about this initiative, click here)
What is inspiring is that this is not just a single endeavor on the part of the Republic of Kazakhstan, indeed the country has more than 160 public services offices of this kind — and more than 700 all together in the country, and which since the beginning of 2014 have provided 22 million (22,000,000) different public services for the nation’s citizens, among which 16 million of them were made in electronic form. Mobile public services completed 8,000 requests in 2014, as well as providing 230,000 different public services for the citizens.
But, on the back of this apparent success, I find myself pondering: what if we have the best car that has ever been made, and yet there is no highway on which to drive that car? Is it the same when we are talking about the outcomes for the citizens, in a way, besides making their lives easier, we are also giving them the possibility to enjoy a freedom of existence: free expression, thoughts and behaviours – vote for and to be voted for, among many other things?
Because otherwise, it is as if we just assume that individuals will have at least ten days every year to do nothing but to stand in a line to get certain document. And if we remove that waiting period? What then will individuals do with the “free” time? Serve the government or will the government finally start to serve the individual (having in mind that the word Minister means SERVANT).
Will it, could it be? Finally?
Answers might be given here today – visible online in live streaming due to Agenda schedule.