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Expert opinion

Kenya should purchase, operate eCitizen to avoid conflict

In Summary

• There are cases where lawyers take their clients’ compensation and invest in quick-returns investments. 

• The good thing about a self-digital collection system is that it cuts intrusion and is effective in system reviews and monitoring.

It is a common practice for governments to contract third parties to provide various collection services.

However, such engagements must be sealed with clear agreements, especially if the services rendered involve collection or disbursement of funds, as in the case of eCitizen.

As with Jenga Pay, Pesapal, Cellulant or Webmasters, the developer of the government's digital payment system is entitled to a mutually agreeable revenue sharing mechanism.

There are, however, always temptations by the service provider to take advantage of the benefits that come with the service. In this case, it is not wrong for Webmasters Kenya to trade funds received through eCitizen for profits, as long as it is within the agreement.

Although I am not privy to the agreement between the National Treasury and Webmasters, sometimes parties leave loopholes in agreements that later come to haunt them.

There are cases where lawyers take their clients’ compensation and invest in quick-returns investments. After all, everyone is looking for an extra coin or profit.

Therefore, it is upon the state to ensure loopholes are sealed to ensure that no one is profiting from public funds. If the agreement entered into by the third party prohibits such practices, the law must take its course.

However, to limit contractual disagreements as witnessed in the past,  the government has an option of acquiring existing platforms. This will see the government collect its funds in real-time and integrate them into departments.

The good thing about a self-digital collection system is that it cuts intrusion and is effective in system reviews and monitoring.

Real-time transactions lose meaning when a third party is involved. They also become highly susceptible to corruption, cyber attacks and other financial crimes.  

An alternative to the outright acquisition of the platform is payment of annual licence fees to the developers, as is the case with various kinds of software.

While technically it is the National Treasury that runs the eCitizen platform, Webmasters Kenya retains the intellectual property rights.

The bottom line is that the government must work towards fully purchasing and operationalising its digital revenue collection platform, either from the existing client or other credible firms in the country.

The founder & CEO of Dotsavvy spoke to the Star