Morocco World News
Morocco World News
New York, Nov 12, 2012
It is no secret that for many Moroccans interacting with public institutions is not among their favorite activities. When you ask citizens about why that is, you sometimes hear stories about the lack of accountability and transparency, about negligence and lack of professionalism from some of the staff, or even stories of needing to provide a bribe in order to get a basic document issued.
Yet, all citizens have to deal with public institutions one day or the other, whether it is for obtaining an ID card, a residency certificate, a passport… or for getting a public service in a public hospital, a police station, a public school… Over the years, as different governments and new public officials took office, new promises were made to citizens to improve things, yet the challenges faced by many Moroccans have remained the same.
A young Moroccan entrepreneur, Othmane Rahmouni, has decided to do something about it. He has thought deeply about the problem and he has come up with a solution that he believes can make a difference in the way public institutions operate. He has built an online website which enables Moroccan citizens to share their feedback about the public institutions and the public officials of Morocco.
When asked to describe the model that Govpinion.com uses, Rahmouni said: “Reviews have proven to be an effective model in other verticals such as hotels with Tripadvisor or restaurants with Yelp. People can easily distinguish between good ones and mediocre ones based on the aggregation of individual reviews. Why not apply the same model and rely on the wisdom of crowds to create differentiation between the various public institutions and the public officials at the service of citizens. We can in this manner identify officials which should no longer be holding a public office and recognize ones which should be provided with greater responsibility.”
After launching an early test version and receiving overwhelming positive feedback, the Govpinion team recently launched a new redesigned version of the site which incorporates over 3000 public institutions and over a 1000 public officials. These include ministries, wilayas, prefectures, communes, tribunals, consulates, embassies, regional centers of investment, urban agencies, public hospitals. The site includes, as well, the top public officials of these institutions including ministers, Walis, governors, deputies, parliamentary Councilors, Ambassadors, Consuls and many more.
Govpinion makes it very easy for citizens to participate on the website by integrating it with Facebook and enabling the ability to login in just a few seconds without needing to create a new account on the site. While a Facebook account is required, Govpinion takes user privacy very seriously as it enables citizens to remain anonymous on the site and provides them with the option to select a nickname if they wish to keep their identity private.
Govpinion aims to not only be a platform for citizens to express themselves but it also looks to become a resource for citizens to access all the information they need about public officials and institutions. As part of the new version of the site, they have added mappings for all the institutions showing precisely where each institution is located on a map as well as all the contact information of each institution including phone numbers, faxes, email addresses or websites when they are available. In the near future, new features will be deployed including a section on the page of each public official and public institution with all the historical articles written about them in the press as well as a section with articles that provide guidance on the most common administrative procedures for institutions.
Rahmouni shared that his top priority at the moment is to launch the Arabic version of the site as quickly as possible to ensure that citizens can browse the website in the language of their choice. He hopes to make Govpinion successful in Morocco in the short term but his vision is to export his solution to other countries around the world starting with our neighbors in the rest of North Africa and the Middle East once it proves successful in Morocco.
He is confident that Moroccans, especially the youth, are ready for a new era in citizen engagement through the continued adoption of new technology and the internet by an increasing number of people. He believes that Moroccans have the unique opportunity to partner with Govpinion to define a new model for engagement with the public administration and the government which will lead to more transparency, more accountability and more democracy. It is also expected to be of great service to public institution and officials as it enables them to get aggregated feedback from their constituents about the services they are providing.
Mr. Rahmouni added, “It is very important that we build Govpinion.com into a trusted environment in which we can have positive conversations focused on sharing constructive feedback based on actual experiences with public officials and public institutions. This will contribute to the improvement of public services for everyone because ultimately all citizens should get a great experience at public institutions regardless of who they are, how rich they are, what their last name is or who they might know.”
All Moroccan citizens are invited to visit govpinion.com and participate with their evaluations of public officials and public institutions starting today.