Tapping into e-government initiatives
Singapore has secured a strategic partnership with Kuwait to assist the country in developing e-government strategies and formulate a technology master plan for its public sector agencies.
Singapore has secured a strategic partnership with Kuwait to assist the country in developing e-government strategies and formulate a technology master plan for its public sector agencies. While the parties concerned are not in a position to disclose the details of the agreement, Singapore says it is providing consultation support on e-government initiatives.
Jordan is another country that worked with Singapore during the launch of its e-government initiatives. In 2004, the two nations used the World Economic Forum as the platform to sign the Singapore-Jordan Free Trade Agreement (SJFTA) and the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT). The SJFTA is Singapore's first government-level agreement with a Middle Eastern nation and Jordan’s first such initiative in Asia. The agreement aims to provide a platform for economic negotiations and partnerships between Singapore and Jordan.
The partnership covers a broad range of economic activities and it forms part of a broader framework on closer economic ties between the two nations. It also includes a technical support agreement that was signed in October 2003. “Singapore is keen to share ideas and work on e-government projects in the Middle East. As part of the year-long technical support agreement, the two countries have exchanged know-how on the planning and delivery of e-government systems,” says Samantha Fok, deputy director, enterprise development industry group at Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA).
“In the IT realm, Singapore is renowned for its speed of adoption and robust technology infrastructures, fueled by the combination of close public and private sector co-operation. Many Singaporean ICT companies have demonstrated their expertise in vertical sectors like e-government, healthcare, logistics and financial services both locally and across other Asian countries. Through our talks with government officials from the Middle East, such expertise coincides with their vision of narrowing the digital divide and goals to develop vibrant business communities beyond traditional oil exports,” Fok adds.
Kuwait and Jordan are not the only regional countries the Asian IT hub wants to work with. Global research firm IDC claims the MENA region is now the third fastest-growing IT hotbed in the world, behind only China and India. It also forecasts the region’s technology market to grow from US$6.9 billion in 2003 to US$13.4 billion by 2008 and Singapore is keen to secure a piece of the burgeoning market.
Singapore’s senior minister Goh Chok Tong, who recently visited the Middle East, says the region has a significant business potential for his country’s ICT companies in their bid to expand beyond local shores. “As proven in more developed countries, technology can undoubtedly serve as a key enabler for governments and businesses to achieve greater operational efficiencies. Evidenced by optimistic projections for IT spending in the next five years, the Middle East is no exception,” he adds.
The Middle East and Singapore share many similarities in their goals and plans to improve access to ICT, bridging the digital divide and empowering local communities to use ICT for their own development, according to Fok. “Through such shared vision, we see strong commonalities to work together, to establish collaborative links and develop global alliances. More importantly, we are committed to incorporating ICT into the government sector, as well as businesses because we believe this will help to spur socio-economic development and will build a competitive edge for the countries,” she enthuses.
CrimsonLogic, which has been working with regional enterprises for the past five years, says it is currently involved in e-government projects in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and Iran. “We are also actively exploring other nationwide projects relating to the judiciary, trade processing, e-government initiatives and security in Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Syria and the UAE,” says V. Mathivanan, CEO of CrimsonLogic.