Arab world urged to move governance online

Arab nations need to implement e-government initiatives in the next five years to take advantage of the rapid growth in PC and internet usage in the region, the director of Dubai's e-government efforts told a conference in Yemen.

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By  Peter Branton Published  December 7, 2003

Arab nations need to implement e-government initiatives in the next five years to take advantage of the rapid growth in PC and internet usage in the region, the director of Dubai's e-government efforts told a conference in Yemen.

With PC penetration in the Arab world poised to record a rapid increase within the next few years many of the countries in the region will cross penetration levels of 20 %. This augurs well for the various e-governance projects launched by the different governments in the Arab countries, said Salem Al Shair, Director eServices, Dubai eGovernment, who was speaking at a UN-organised conference in Yemen.

"Market research findings indicate that the growth in PC penetration and the spread of the Internet are going hand in hand in Arab countries. Though PC penetration in some Arab countries is low compared to the more developed countries, the past few years have shown high levels of energy and dynamism among government circles to implement e-government initiatives," said Al Shair. "The next five years are going to be critical in the implementation of e-government programmes across the region."

Recounting the Dubai eGovernment experience, Al Shair said: "Backed by a time-bound program to migrate more than 70 per cent public services to electronic channels and a 30 per cent PC penetration in the UAE, Dubai eGovernment has succeeded in keeping to its target. In just three years, we have successfully managed to create a proper environment and infrastructure to deliver customer-focused eServices over innovative channels, including mobile devices. Dubai's vision to emerge as the front-runner in e-governance and Knowledge Economy was translated into reality through extensive planning, deployment of best of breed technologies and involvement of all key government departments. The result is that the Dubai eGovernment portal currently delivers over 600 eServices."

Al Shair emphasized that, among the requirements for a successful implementation of e-government initiatives were, clear vision and direction, wise leadership and government commitment, accelerated momentum with set goals, quick decision making and establishment of a flexible, robust and scalable infrastructure. This has to be supported by the adoption of international benchmarking standards and community-focused outreach programs.

The workshop featured speakers and experts from different countries that are at various stages of e-governance implementation, including Egypt, Lebanon, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Tunisia, India, Yemen and UAE. H.E. Abdulmalik Al-Mualimi, Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technology, highlighted the Yemeni experience in e-governance on the first day of the workshop. The workshop also featured speakers from UNDP, International Computer Driving License and IT experts from leading global companies.

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