Oman moves up 18 places in UN’s e-readiness survey
By staff - Tue Jul 31, 6:00 am
The Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) leads the world in e-Readiness, mainly due to increasing digital literacy, particularly in Qatar and the UAE, according to UN e-Government survey.
The survey is carried out every two years and takes stock of how countries around the world are progressing towards achieving true e-Government status. This year’s report found many have put in place e-government initiatives including the acceleration of the adoption of ICT across the public sector in order to deliver more efficient, more transparent, more inclusive and more sustainable government to all citizens.
Countries that lead the index and those that have moved up have moved beyond basic e-Services to integrated systems that link different institutions and departments offering a single point of contact to the public. This is where Gulf countries shine, according to the survey.
Oman made a jump to 64 from 82 highlighting the importance given by ITA to the Oman”s e-Government agenda.
“Although the UN 2012 survey shows that no country has a single sign on integrated portal, the UAE, Bahrain and Qatar are among the 10 closest to such a feat,” comments Jamil Ezzo, director general of the ICDL GCC Foundation, which is the sole body to implement and disseminate the programme across the GCC and Iraq with the support of leading educational institutions and accredited bodies.
Finding that the UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia also appear in the top 25 leaders of emerging countries in e-Government development, ranking 8th, 16th and 21st respectively, he said this proved the seriousness of the e-Government agenda across the Gulf region.
The report highlighted other notable achievements of Gulf states in the survey as compared to 2010. The UAE was highly visible as it advanced 21 positions in the global rankings to take 28th place as compared to 2010 and fifth in Asia.
Qatar moved 14 positions up to 48th place, Saudi Arabia by 17 places to 41 and Oman by 18 places to 64, while Bahrain and Kuwait did not make considerable progress, according to the report.
In fact, the rapid progress made by the UAE is cited as best practice case of how effective e-Government can lead economic and social development. With double the population and three quarters of the GDP (gross domestic product) per capita, the UAE has achieved around the same level of online services as those offered in Norway, a global leader in eighth position.
Digital literacy is one of the key indicators used by the UN report to measure a country’s progress in e-Readiness, it said, highlighting that over 150,000 people from the Gulf region had enrolled on its programmes, a marked improvement over the preceding two-year period.
Observing that women enrolments rose 7%, youth by 12% and senior citizens by 1.5%, the report said these improvements had been due to the ongoing funding and support from private and public sector partnerships.
“The region as a whole demonstrated substantial improvement in participation in digital literacy particularly in the UAE and Qatar with a 6.1% and 4.5% rise respectively,” it said.
The UAE government has been a driving force in expanding its services online and closing the digital divide, as well as embracing the knowledge economy, the report said. However, it is not alone in this regard.
Saudi Arabia achieved a best practice case through the introduction of its e-Dashboard portal, which verifies the identity of the citizen and serves as a single sign on portal. There is the Hukoomi initiative from the Qatar government, a technology gateway that brings together government services and programmes that are accessible through the Internet but also mobile devices.