Kenya and the digital service revolution we’re waiting for

Australian governments could learn a thing or two from developing countries about what a seamless digital service delivery can look like, and why it’s OK to let the private sector guide the next big thing.

Australians send billions of text messages every year; it’s one of those seamless interactions now taken for granted. What if a Sydney resident could pay a parking fine on the spot, with just a text, and save the State Debt Recovery Office from sending reminders?

That type of virtually effortless efficiency is becoming the norm in developing countries like Kenya, Tanzania and India. And has been for years.

Many of the technology-based innovations that are being enabled by governments aren’t limited to just public services. M-Pesa, the SMS-based payment and money transfer service started in Kenya, was initially to enable micro-financing using mobile network airtime resellers.

Australian businesses are also looking at what government services (or obligations) they can improve with a digital approach — preferably in co-operation with government.

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