In July 2014, the government put out an advert calling for volunteers to what has been positioned as an exciting one year programme for those aged between twenty two and thirty years, with an additional requirement that one be a recent university graduate. The exact nature, structure and opportunity was not clearly articulated which led to a conversation with some industry peers on the possible permutations that the project may take. I was of the personal opinion that the angle taken may not be the best from sustainability and immediate needs perspective to which I was challenged to give a better solution; whose concept I share today for your digest.
I have argued in the past that government is well placed to drive up the uptake of technology if only deployed to scratch its itch; deliver survives to the citizen and meet other objectives such as job creation.
We have many youth who are not gainfully employed with a good number having basic education – reading, writing and arithmetic. In government we have many tasks that need to be done to get us to fully take advantage of a digital economy. Case in point; lost identity cards. A citizen without an identity card is disabled in many ways, unable to access government and other services and by extension unable to work.
Technology allows for broadest possible reach with lowest possible overhead with meeting of key performance indicators.
The concept of micro work is not new and can be easily mapped to the governments drive to create opportunities for the youth and in the same vein meet its obligations to the citizen. The cost of producing a new identity card is much higher than ensuring the reconnection of citizen and the important document. With lost identification documents piled high in sacks at local police stations, the process of digitalizing the information held can be automated at scale and the tasks assigned to hundreds of thousands of youth who then get paid – whether via mobile money or airtime, based on output. The created ecosystem could be applied to other opportunities as well.
There are several other factors to be considered in this particular example, but the spirit remains that there could be a better way to achieve bigger impact leveraging technology, because unfortunately it is a given that the volunteer program will not sustainably assimilate over one hundred thousand youth.