Oct 3 , 2020

Custor Computing, a 25-year-old local tech firm, has digitised the services of the Ethiopian Civil Service Commission, a federal agency in charge of overseeing government offices. Dubbed the Integrated Civil Service Management Information System, the new technology cost the Commission 50 million Br.

The system places the Commission's database and services online under five modules. Users can apply and follow up with their applications online, such as appeal through a tribunal. Archives will go online, and the annual statistics magazine of the Commission will also be made available there.

Services included in the Management System are classified into five modules: Human Resources, Tribunal, HR Audit, Organogram [organisation chart] and Archives. The first one will include management of the hiring process, while the Tribunal oversees complaints and appeals from different institutions. It gives verdicts based on this and cases can be followed up on digitally.

HR Audit will deal with legal compliance in the hiring process, whereas the Organogram of the Commission approves the HR needs of the federal and regional bureaus it oversees. The final module will deal with its records. This is a collected database of personnel under the Commission that keeps track of when a person first gets hired. This can be used for retrieval of pension payments.

The first round of the system of the roll-out phase includes 20 Ministry offices. The Planning & Development Commission and the ministries of Transport, Peace, Culture & Tourism, and Innovation & Technology are among the institutions included in the first phase. The second year of the Commission's five-year plan will include 750 public institutions, all universities and bureaus across four regional states.

Launched five years ago, the project was administered by a task force until a project office was formed last year under the Commission that oversees 195 federal offices and 1.7 million civil servants in the country. The implementation is starting this year as the previous years were dedicated to building the capacity of the institution.

The Commission has been assessing its existing system, performing maintenance on pilot projects, and integrating additional services like finance and attendance systems during the previous year, according to Senait Berihu, head of the project office that was established nearly two years ago.

"The time was used to create awareness and train staff," she said, "along with building the data centre."

Custor Computing, which is deploying close to 20 people in the first year, has previously worked with the Addis Abeba Revenues Bureau for its tax collection system and the Addis Abeba Transport Bureau for its Drivers & Vehicle Services Management System. It also deployed the online business license registry system for the Ministry of Trade & Industry.

The company, present since the launch of the programme five years ago, is gathering additional requirements and customising the project to suit the requirements of public institutions in the country, according to Gebreselassie G. Anenia, general manager of Custor Computing.

The main challenges to the project have been the lack of commitment on the part of higher officials across different institutions and lack of infrastructure in regional states, according to Senait.

"There is also resistance to change across the bureaus," she said. "People think they might lose their jobs because of this system."

In the past year, 13 institutions including Addis Abeba University were included in the pilot roll-out of the System. System maintenance for these institutions was also part of the previous year's work.

"The case with Addis Abeba University has been very promising as it has over 9,000 employees under its management," Senait said. "Other government offices have barely over 600 staff."

The Ethiopian Meat & Dairy Industry Development Institute, which has 300 employees under the new HR management system, is one of the beneficiaries. It uses the platform for hiring, promotion and leaving requests, and it includes the profiles and work experience of each employee.

The process of gathering the data, getting feedback and confirmation, along with training staff took close to six months, according to Martha Alemayehu, the Institute's human resource director.

"We have yet to go digital with our HR services fully," she said. "For now, we are working with both digital and manual operations."

The Institute has now been working with this system for over a year and plans to add the Tribunal module next, according to Martha.

"We've recently had a meeting with Custor Computing on working out the current challenges," she said.

The importance of such systems is undeniable as it will ease service provision for customers immensely, according to Social Beyene, owner of DAFTech Social ICT Solution Plc.

Commitment is also a shared concern by the IT expert, who said that minor technical difficulties could be taken as a reason to delay such projects.

"It requires serious commitment, and we've seen projects finalised within their given time frame in such cases," he said.

The roll-out of such systems should also be done, module by module, as deployment is the biggest task in the process, and institutions should not be over ambitious in rolling out all the services at once, advised the expert.

But the overall project should not take more than a couple of years, according to him, requiring a year for development and another for implementation.

PUBLISHED ON Oct 03,2020 [ VOL 21 , NO 1066]

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