On July 23, 2018 during a celebration of the 171st independence anniversary of Liberia, Vice President Madam Jewel Howard-Taylor launched the redesigned eLiberia portal. The portal provides information about online government services for Liberia’s citizens and businesses to communicate and transact with government.
The USAID Digital Liberia team and GoL officials participate in the launch of the eLiberia portal
The Government of Liberia (GoL) formulated the national e-government strategy, 2014-2018, to provide a road map for delivering services to people, irrespective of location, economic status, education, or ICT ability. With its commitment to a customer-centric approach, the government launched its first e-portal in 2014.
Prior to the e-portal, citizens had to go to websites of individual ministries or agencies to access services, and had to know the web address for each ministry or agency offering service. In some cases, citizens were not aware of available online services and would request information in person at government offices in Monrovia, which caused high waiting times to complete simple tasks such as filling out a form.
The new e-Liberia Portal
The Program Management Office (PMO) at the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications (MOPT), supported by USAID’s Digital Liberia project implemented by IBI, redesigned the GOL’s e-government portal.
The new portal has a clean design, simplified navigation, and improved menu functionality. New functions include a help desk and online chat, which allow a visitor to interact directly with the PMO, which is the office mandated by government to implement all e-government programs as identified by the Chief Information Office.
Examples of services available on the portal are applications for passports, online payment of taxes, birth registration forms, and farmers e-registration.
Interacting with the press on August 14, 2018 at a CIO council meeting, the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, Councillor Cooper W. Kruah, Sr., noted that, “The portal is dedicated to providing information to our local and diaspora citizens, business visitors, and the general public on locating government agencies on the internet, accessing automated services available across government agencies, and providing relevant information during epidemics, disasters, and other emergencies.”
The Digital Liberia Approach
Digital Liberia’s approach to supporting e-government initiatives in Liberia is government driven, step-by-step discovery, of what is possible in the near-term to progress towards aspirational goals, and then working to achieve these possibilities. The process of digitizing government is not a straight line, but involves experimentation, failure and setbacks, as well as shifts in direction. The Digital Liberia Project supports learning-while-doing that builds confidence and encourages new behaviors. The GOL understands that in order to build an e-society, it needs to experiment and learn from its mistakes.
Although a lot of government services are not online yet and while the portal is only a small part of the e-government program, it is an important step taken by the government for open and transparent governance. Going forward, Digital Liberia will continue to support the government of Liberia’s Program Management Office (PMO) to bring more services online and to popularize the e-Liberia Portal as a reliable source of information for online government services.