Saturday, December 17, 2011

Another interesting use of ICT in Rwanda

When I applied for the green card in the US about 15 years ago, the only way to know about the status of my application was to call a 1-800 number provided by the immigration services. As far as I remember I was never able to speak to someone - I mean a real person not a computer - by calling this number. I only knew that my green card was granted when I received a postmail saying so. I'm now an American citizen and did not try this service since then.

As I now live in Rwanda I had to go through a similar process to obtain a working visa in the country. Clearly the number of working visa applications in Rwanda cannot be compared with the number of green card applications  in the US, however I'd like to share with you how it happened.

When I provided all the required documents at the immigration services of Rwanda, they provided me with an ID number that I could use to track the progress of my application online. But even better, when my visa was ready I received an SMS on my mobile phone saying so as you can see on the next screen shots.

The same way, my bank is sending me an SMS everytime a transaction is happening on my account. When I go to the bank to cash a check, my mobile phone rings announcing that an SMS message is waiting for me even before I leave the bank. The SMS tells me the amount of the withdrawal that just happened and the balance of my account. My wife who is sharing the account with me receives the same message at the same time. Some may not like this last function!

Many businesses here have integrated SMS functions in their customer services. As a customer you can choose to get that service or not.

See ya later alligator...

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