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Why Kenyans Pay Sh50 Convenience Fee On e-Citizen, Owner Reveals



James Ayugi, the founder of eCitizen.

In August of last year, the government initiated the consolidation of payment for all its services through eCitizen, its centralized online portal for accessing various State services, under a single Paybill number.

President William Ruto at the time ordered the closure of all existing government PayBill numbers and said starting August 8, 2023, 222222 would be the sole payment number for State services.

A section of Kenyans have however been questioning the KES 50  convenience fee that is paid as an addition to the government services. During an interview, James Ayugi, the founder of eCitizen, explained that the fee collected is utilized to cover the operational expenses involved in maintaining the platform.

Ayugi, who serves as the CEO of Webmasters Kenya Ltd, emphasized that eCitizen operates similarly to a physical environment where services were previously accessed, with individuals managing the platform’s day-to-day operations.

“The fact that there is a digital format doesn’t mean that there is no cost. Remember in a physical bank there’s a human being serving you and they must get paid; the owner also must pay rent for that space. Equally in a digital space there are costs associated with running this ecosystem. There are engineers and support teams who bring convenience to you, and they must be paid,” he said.

He disclosed that they decided on a fee of KES 50 after carefully considering factors such as costs, time, and actual transactions when launching the platform back in 2014.

“So, we proposed the KES 50 convenience fee as part of the pilot, we partly consumed it in the initial stages to fund the support and maintenance until when the government started regularizing and structuring all that process,’ explained Ayugi.

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He clarified that the additional fee is directed to the government and not to the creators of the system. He underscored that the lack of government funding for digitization has historically impacted the sector.

However, he expressed optimism that sufficient revenue will be generated to sustain the sector in the future. Besides, he said that it is the government’s responsibility to determine the financing approach for the platform going forward.

While maintaining that the convenience fee is justified, he urged the people to accept the convenience fee arguing that the taxes collected are not enough to fund the platform. “At the end of the day, we should be able to adapt and accept that these digitization platforms that have been presented to us is just to help the government be efficient in its operation and lower cost.”

Ayugi said eCitizen has saved the government other costs associated with printing, storage and many other extended costs that used to make government operations expensive.

Further, he clarified that there are essential services like education and the medical space that are zero-rated and exempted from the convenience fee. He said the fee is levied on only services that needed the individual to travel to access them.

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