Dubai: The UAE is investing heavily in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as part of an eTransformation initiative which authorities aim to implement at the federal level by 2014, Salem Khamis Al Shair Al Suwaidi, deputy director general of the Emirates eGovernment said.
“The government has succeeded in paving the way for the eTransformation by setting up an advanced electronic infrastructure and providing appropriate legal basis across the emirates depending on a strategic framework consisting of three dimensions — eServices, eReadiness and ICT environment,” said Al Suwaidi as the UAE prepares to celebrate its 41st National Day on December 2.
According to the approved Federal Strategy 2014, the number of Emirates eGovernment services on offer will increase from 500 to 1,000 by the first half of 2013. “This is a major milestone in the process of eTransformation of the federal government and to enhance the eServices across the UAE,” Al Suwaidi said.
He added that the ultimate objective of the Emirates eGovernment initiative is to provide the government services through innovative channels in a time- and cost- effective manner. This will raise the UAE’s profile globally in terms of innovation at the government level while improving lives of its people by delivering the best eServices, he said.
While the UAE’s eGovernment achievements have been quite remarkable since its inception in 2011 under the umbrella of the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority, Al Suwaidi remarked: “When we talk about the UAE’s eTransformation journey, we have to mention that the federal eGovernment project in the UAE started in the year 2001 when the Ministry of Finance launched eDirham — the first eService that facilitated the electronic payment for accessing the federal government services.”
Since then, many entities at the federal and local levels have launched several eServices that are proving to be time- and cost- efficient for the end users as well as the government, he said.
The official portals of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman and Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah have been streamlined to bring the services and information of the respective government entities under one umbrella with the aim of providing quick and easy access to users.
The portals offer many interactive and transactional services such as bill payments, licence renewals and so on. In addition, the Abu Dhabi and Dubai government portals offer information and advice to residents, businesses and visitors on a range of issues.
Al Suwaidi said that the latest United Nation Survey 2012 about eGovernment initiatives proved the unprecedented success the UAE had achieved in terms of eTransforamtion. Based on human capital, telecommunication infrastructure and eParticipation, the UAE ranked seven on the online service index, from 99th position in 2010. It had also improved its ranking to 28 on the eGvernment development index from 49 in 2010. In eParticipation, the UAE has leaped to 6 from 86 in the 2010 report.
“We are developing and customising our services according to 90 criteria to meet the international standard and to make the life of our customers easier,” Al Suwaidi said. “The country has managed to develop a good ICT-related infrastructure and a favourable framework for business and innovation that result in fairly good innovation in the form of new products, services and new organisational models.”
A new initiative is also in the pipeline to act as a single window to access different federal and local government eServices, Al Suwaidi said. He added that the Emirates eGovernment portal represents a channel to facilitate communication between customers and government representatives through an eParticipation approach that involved forums, blogs, surveys, polls and links to UAE eGovernment social media accounts.
Moreover, The Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA) recently launched a weekly TV programme to introduce the UAE government’s online services to the public. The programme titled ‘I Am Connected’ features eService options offered across the federal entities and explains how people can access and benefit from them. The programme will officially air in January on 15 television channels across the GCC.