In this interview, Joel Ntihemuka talks about moving the paper-based operations of the Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) online. He discusses the challenges of starting this process from scratch, without infrastructure or skilled personnel. Ntihemuka talks about having several stand-alone IT systems for internal functions and different types of taxes, as well as the process of buying software from foreign vendors and customizing it to Rwandan needs. He shares his view on the RRA as providing a public service and emphasizes the importance of high quality service delivery. Ntihemuka discusses the RRA’s attempts to use technology to make filing taxes convenient for Rwandan citizens. This was the motivation behind introducing online and mobile tax declaration. He also talks about the process by which the RRA set up online and mobile tax declaration and stresses the importance of having tax personnel take charge of these projects as they are better aware specific requirements than IT personnel. Ntihemuka emphasizes the benefits of having support from government leaders in terms of investing in infrastructure and bringing partners together. Lastly, Ntihemuka discusses his future vision for the RRA as working in tandem with the government to have a fully digitized and integrated system that provides a single view of a tax payer across various tax departments.
At the time of this interview, Joel Ntihemuka was the Deputy Commissioner for Information Technology at the Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA), a government revenue collection agency. He joined the RRA as a network engineer in 2002.