During the lockdown the importance of online public services significantly increased. According to the JSC National Information Technologies portal, between 21 March and 10 May 2020, the citizens of Kazakhstan received more than 15 million public services online through the Electronic Government portal, the eGovMobile application and the messaging services Telegram, Facebook and VKontakte.
Once the lockdown was lifted, the state corporation “Government for Citizens” announced it was ending the provision of all online public services in one-stop-shops across the country. This created certain challenges for the citizens who were used to obtaining all their services in one-stop-shops.
To address this challenge and help the public to acquire digital public service skills, UNDP, jointly with the Civil Service Agency, mobilized 450 volunteers in all regions. Volunteers now deliver public services to citizens in one-stop-shops, while simultaneously teaching them how to obtain services online through the eGovMobile or TelegramBot apps.
Amina Akylbekova, representative of the Department of Public Services, believes that volunteers have helped to reduce the workload of one-stop-shops staff, to increase the public’s digital literacy and to decrease the risks of the virus spreading.
“Volunteers helped me to install the eGovMobile application. I needed to get certificates from psychology and narcology clinics. When you don’t know how to use the application, everything seems complicated. But, in fact, everything turned out to be easy. Now I don’t have to go to one-stop-shop as I get all the services I need online”, says Lyudik Akulova, a recipient of public services in the North Kazakhstan Region.
According to Askhat Valiyev, a volunteer from Kostanay, “Middle-aged and young people come to one-stop-shops because they don’t know about online opportunities. But as soon as they find out how to get services online, they start using them on their own. With older persons the situation is quite different. They usually come back a few times and eventually learn basic skills. But there is a social group that might be unable to acquire digital knowhow because of age- or health-related reasons”.
The volunteers’ age ranges from 6 to 83 years. Albekova Zhanat, 52 years, a volunteer from the Akmola region, learnt about online public services during the training. “The training took two hours. Everything turned out to be simple and easy, and the website also instructions. As a volunteer, I help my friends and relatives to get various references and services online. I am also trying to teach them so that they can access any requisite services by themselves. But 80 percent of my friends have no interest in learning, especially those aged 50 and above. I hope that situation will eventually change”, says Zhanat.
Most of the volunteers have legal or economic background. They want to become civil servants or to understand the internal process while participating in public monitoring.
Currently in Kazakhstan 82 percent of public services are available online, and the government plans to increase this figure to 90 percent by the end of 2020.
Educating people how to obtain public services through online tools is an important step towards the overall digitalization process in Kazakhstan, which has assumed a high priority during the global pandemic.