GCC states lead in UN’s e-Readiness survey

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uae egovernment portal
A screenshot of the UAE’s eGovernment portal. Photo – Moign Khawaja/ArabianGazette.com

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has successfully placed itself among Asia’s top 5 spenders on digital literacy, according to the latest UN eGovernment Readiness Survey.

In addition to its betterment in digital literacy, the report has also highlighted other significant achievements of the GCC countries. The UN readiness survey is carried out every two years to assess how countries in the world are moving towards achieving true eGovernment status. This year, apart from the GCC countries, many other countries have made it to the top list, adopting ICT across public sector in order to deliver efficient and transparent government to public.

Gulf countries, according to the survey, shine well in offering improved integrated systems that link well institutions and departments with general public.

“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,” Jamil Ezzo, director general of ICDL GCC Foundation, said.

Explaining the reason behind this achievement, Jamil Ezzo 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. However, it is not alone in this regard. For example, Saudi Arabia achieved a best practice case through the introduction of its eDashboard portal, which verifies the identity of the citizen and serves as a single sign on portal. Then there is the Hakoomal initiative from the Qatar government, a technology gateway that brings together services and programs that are accessible through the internet but also mobile devices.”

Digital Literacy

The UN report found that digital literacy in GCC countries has played significant role in the progress and making it to the top list of e-Readiness.

According to the report, over 150,000 people in the Gulf region enrolled for the programme, which marks a good improvement for countries.

About 7% women, 12% youth and 1.5% senior citizens have enrolled for the programme. The report added that the improvement is due to the ongoing funding and support from both private and public sectors.

“The region as a whole demonstrated substantial improvement in participation in digital literacy particularly in the UAE and Qatar with 6.1% and 4.5% rise respectively.”

According to the report, Qatar has moved 14 positions up to 48, Saudi Arabia by 17 places to 41 and Oman by 18 places to 64. However, the study mentioned that Bahrain and Kuwait were not making enough progress. It cited the UAE as the best example of economic and social development through e-Government initiatives.

UAE, currently facing increasing population and positive GDP growth, has achieved same level of online services as offered by Norway, which is the global leader.

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