Here are Three Trends Presently Shaping GovTech Landscape
The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the majority of countries around the world. While some of the solutions proposed by governments have varied, when it comes to providing social, economic, and medical assistance, those with developed GovTech—a whole-of-government approach to public sector digitization—have generally been more efficient.
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of such systems, but as with any crisis, it has also left many pondering: how will GovTech evolve in the future?
Experts at NRD Companies, a global IT and consulting group of companies specializing in governance and economic digital infrastructure, have elaborated on how the landscape of GovTech might look like going forward.
The importance of developing e-government systems has not been overshadowed by the pandemic. In fact, the adverse conditions have only reinforced the need for GovTech solutions as countries seek to deliver their citizens an efficient way of accessing public services. With a deadly virus raging and travel restrictions in place, the crisis has opened up new opportunities for remote collaboration, which is no longer seen as an option, but rather as a necessary component for successful GovTech project implementation.
“As tools, processes, and software constantly improve, it has become possible to implement large-scale GovTech projects entirely remotely, regardless of location and time zones,” said Mindaugas Glodas, CEO at NRD Companies. “Of course, consulting and implementing projects remotely is significantly more complex than doing it the usual way, thus when choosing partners, countries should consider their experience in working with such projects. In any case, moving forward, remote work will stay with us even after the pandemic, as countries are becoming more aware of the benefits such methodology brings to the table.”
One such project involves Barbados, an island country in the Caribbean which has recently agreed, even amidst the pandemic, to take the first step toward digitizing the public sector. Working together with NRD Companies, the nation will implement a progressive e-services delivery platform entirely remotely, encouraging cooperation and data exchange between the public sector and the government by providing a Directory of Services and designated online spaces for citizens, businesses, and the government.
Shift to cloud
Multiple governments around the world still rely on physical, premise-based data centers. Such centers require careful management and are vulnerable to fire, smoke, moisture, flood, pollution, and data leakages. As governments receive more and more sensitive data, storing it in bare metal servers is becoming too risky to continue.
“The limitations of legacy systems are going to encourage a shift to cloud,” said Mr Glodas. “It is no longer safe and practical to store data on physical servers, especially when an increasing number of governments are choosing the digitization path. Going cloud is the next logical step as it provides more resilience, saves money and stimulates innovation.This has been happening for quite some time in the private sector, but the transition in the public sector is only accelerating.”
In particular, private clouds are now on the rise. In 2018, a study predicted that governments will shift to private cloud at twice the rate of public cloud through 2021. Since then, the German federal government, the French Ministry of the Interior and a few Swedish government agencies, among others, have transitioned to private cloud to ensure control and security.
Other countries choose similar cloud solutions. Partnering with NRD Companies, Anguilla, a British overseas territory in the Caribbean, will have its electronic system for the Commercial Registry implemented on a hybrid cloud—a combination of on-premises infrastructure, private and public clouds—to ensure availability in a cost-effective way.
Positive influence of electronic business registries
The private sector is crucial in the country’s fight against poverty through investment and job creation. Where an effective private sector is lacking, business registration reform has been shown to be one of the essential first steps toward improving the business environment and fostering private sector growth. The easier, faster, and cheaper the business registration process becomes, the higher number of businesses are in an economy.
“When local businesses flourish, they create jobs and generate income that can be spent and invested domestically,” said Ieva Tarailienė, Head of Registry Practice at NRD Companies. “And for the businesses to flourish, favorable conditions must be ensured by the government. This is where digitization can help tremendously—online business registries streamline the whole process of formally registering one’s business and at the same time level the playing ground. As long as governments continue developing online business registration registries, it is a no brainer that their economic segments will only improve.”
The benefits of electronic business registries are reflected in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking, which often acts as a guiding light for foreign investors. For example, Mauritius, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, has moved up 36 places during the last three years and is now ranked first in the Sub-Saharan region and 13th overall in the latest Doing Business ranking. This is mostly thanks to its paperless e-registry system, recently developed by NRD Companies, which allows businesses and citizens to use over 30 registries completely remotely.
African Startup uLesson Raises $15m, with Support from Tencent and Nielsen Ventures
Two-year old edtech startup uLesson, founded by a Nigerian, announced that it has now closed a $15 million Series B round.
Edtech startup companies benefited greatly from the pandemic’s disruption, pulling huge amounts of money from investors worldwide and it felt like African startups were left out. However, the announcement of uLesson shows that this is not the case any longer.
The investment comes almost a year after uLesson closed a $7.5 million in Series A round. and was completed by five different investors, and they are; Tencent, TLcom Capital, Founder Collective, Nielsen Ventures and already existing investors Owl Ventures. The investment is also the largest announced investment in an African edtech startup.
uLesson was founded by Nigerian Sim Shagaya in 2019, and it came into the market when the pandemic ravaged the world last year. Being a young company, uLesson had to keep switching business models in a bid to determine what would be best for a very tough African market.
At its launch, uLesson started by providing a product pack of SD cards and dongles which had pre-recorded videos for K-12 students. They can access lessons either via streaming or through using SD cards to download and save the lesson content.
However, uLesson has introduced some new features for a comprehensive edtech play for the demographic. It added quizzes, as well as a homework help feature that would assist students in connecting to tutors from other universities.
It also started a live class feature, which consists of polls and leaderboards as well as a live experience of DevKids, a coding class that is separate from the core uLesson platform. DevKids has however been rolled back, with Shagaya stating that plans were being made to introduce the feature – which was initially an experiment in teaching kids how to code and at a point raked in about 30% of the company’s total revenue – sometime in January next year.
Alexa, Global Web Traffic Analytic Company to Shut Down in May, 2022
Alexa, Amazon.com owned web traffic and analytic company, on Wednesday announced it was shutting down operations after 25 years of helping businesses grow and expand their reach.
The company disclosed this in a statement published on its website.
Alexa will officially shut down on May 1, 2022. Therefore, businesses are advised to export their data between now and May 1, 2022.
However, current paying subscribers will continue to enjoy Alexa service up until May 2022.
The statement reads: “We will be retiring Alexa.com on May 1, 2022
“Twenty-five years ago, we founded Alexa Internet. After two decades of helping you find, reach, and convert your digital audience, we’ve made the difficult decision to retire Alexa.com on May 1, 2022. Thank you for making us your go-to resource for content research, competitive analysis, keyword research, and so much more.
“We have been proud to serve you as customers.”
Alexa FAQ For Subscribers
How do I export data from Alexa.com?
- We offer several data exports. Please see this FAQ for more information: How can I export Alexa’s data?
Can I buy a new subscription?
- No, Alexa.com stopped offering new subscriptions on December 8, 2021 UTC. Customers with existing subscriptions will continue to have access to their subscriptions until May 1, 2022 UTC.
What will happen to my existing subscription?
- Existing subscriptions will remain active until May 1, 2022 UTC. After that, customers will no longer have access to Alexa.com.
Will I be charged for my existing subscription?
- Yes, the last subscription billing date will be prior to April 1, 2022 UTC. Customers will continue to have access to Alexa.com until May 1, 2022 UTC.
Can I delete my Alexa.com account?
- Yes, please refer to How do I delete my Alexa.com account?
Nigeria’s Bento Expands Further into Africa
Nigeria’s digital payroll and human resource management platform, Bento is expanding into other African countries like Ghana, Kenya and Rwanda while maintaining plans to start operations in six other markets in Africa within the next one year.
For the next expansion phase, Bento is targeting Egypt, South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, Angola and Ethiopia for further expansion by the end of next year.
Bento is accessing the payroll and Human Resource management market in Africa that has usually relied on laborious analogue processes to distribute payment. The start-up, which was founded in 2019, is assisting businesses to automate the payment of their salaries and other statutory remittances, which include taxes and pensions.
The co-founder and CEO of Bento, Ebun Okubanjo lamented about other companies making use of the analogue processes to manage their workforce, citing it as frustrating but exciting for Bento. Okubanjo stated that employers do not have access to customised, world-class payroll and HRM (Human Resource Management) tools, and the employees cannot access third-party tools to make their lives easier. Okubanjo then said that the company is building the operating system that will have a solid impact on the African continent even for the generations to come.
Bento stated that its platform is leveraging data to expand credit solutions to third parties (or employees) and other services such as unemployment insurance, investments and savings.
The start-up’s main credit engine which was built in partnership with Tarya of Israel, makes sure of the payment of instant loans. In Nigeria, Bento currently serves more than 900 businesses, including healthcare and financial service companies like Hygeia and Tangerine Africa, and Y Combinator-supported start-ups Paystack, Kobo360, Branch and LORI Systems.
The second co-founder and COO of Bento, Chidozie David Okonkwo said that the company is starting off with payroll and HRM, but also moving very quickly towards Salary 2.0 where the company will “redefine the intersection of work and life and transform how people earn, spend and borrow money on the continent.”
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