Saturday, January 16, 2021

E-Gov…the forgotten story

The intended end result was to make government more result oriented, efficient and customer centric. Yet, the multi-million e-Government Expert Advice and Implementation Manager Initiative has not been successful after the programme failed to take off despite hundredths of millions pumped in the project.

The Expert Advice and Implementation Manager Initiative (EAIMI) was the last project under the e-government programme that has gobbled as much as P394.7 million. While some mini projects under the programme have been completed, the EAIMI – which was intended to provide the Botswana government with a complete one government solution – has fallen through the cracks, resulting in a standstill and a court case.

The P159.5 million EAIMI project was awarded to Public Service Transformation Group, a Canadian company, in December 2013. The company was paid P111.6 million before the project folded after the government terminated the contract 18 months after it was commissioned, leaving the whole programme in limbo. The termination is now a matter before the courts of law in Botswana.

In a rather shocking revelation, Kitso Mokaila, minister of Transport and Communications, said following the termination of PSTG’s contract, a company which was subcontracted by PSTG was directly appointed by the government to take over the project. The new company was quoted the same amount as PSTG despite the fact that the project was 95 percent done before PSTG was kicked out.

Still, Mokaila says the project has not been successful since it has not taken off. “I’m not satisfied and lastly because it is in court as we speak, I’m limited in terms of what i can say,” he said.

The EAIMI project is being probed by the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime relating to the awarding of the multi-million pula tender, with investigations extending to recruitment and pretty much anything related to the tender after it was awarded.

In terms of due diligence relating to the project, Mokaila who was not at the ministry at the time the tender was awarded, said based on his readings regarding the project, missions were sent to Canada. “There were benchmarking trips, and the ministry seemly satisfied itself that this was the company to go with,” explained Mokaila. “What happened thereafter in terms of delivery, it was not delivered and hence the company was terminated.”

Mokaila further said the project was terminated before he joined the ministry, however it was handed to him and he was told, “Here is a project we want to continue with, but it is terminated and it is at the courts.” Mokaila says despite the failure of the project, there are many other e-government projects that the ministry is doing, and going forward with. “So it is just one project,” Mokaila said, downplaying the failed project.

The Botswana National e-Government strategy was launched in 2012 much to fanfare with grandiose promises of modernisation of government, enhancement of transparency, accountability and good governance.

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