Bahrain: Consultative Meeting with experts on preparatory process for the 2016 UN eGovernment Survey

11 February 2015

As part of the 2nd study tour of the UN delegation which represented 21 States, organized and funded by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) in an aim to maximizing benefits from Bahrain's experience in areas covering eGovernment and Public Service, the eGovernment Authority organized a consultative meeting on the United Nations report for eGovernment 2016, which focuses on sustainable development and was presented by Regional Advisor on eGovernment at UNDESA, Mr. Richard Kerby. The meeting was attended by Mr. Jean Marie Kozya, Head of Public Administration and Governance in the department of Economic and Social Affairs, as well as a number of representatives from the eGovernment Authority from the Gulf States, including Deputy Chairman of Kuwait Information Technology Society Mr. Qusai Al-Shatti, as well as Advisor of the eGovernment Program ‘Yesser' in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Mr. Mustafa Khan, as well as representatives from the Information Technology Authority of Sultanate Oman. The meeting kicked-off with an overview presentation presented by Richard Kerby which included the general features of the report. He also discussed the main points to be evaluated, noting that the United Nations seeks to cooperate with as many countries as possible in order to translate the report into more than on language, with the aim to spread it to all countries. He also took the opportunity to thank the Kingdom of Bahrain on the translation of the previous report to Arabic Language. During the workshop, Kerby highlighted the importance of the workshop carried out by the United Nations in collaboration with Bahrain's eGovernment Authority and how it is focused on improving eServices provided by governments. He also noted that their visit to the Kingdom of Bahrain was due to its leadership in the area of eGovernment, particularly as it has brought together a number of experts which discussed how to improve government performance and best strategies to be used by eGovernments. The meeting agenda focused on key themes including emerging issues and current eGovernment trends towards sustainable development. The meeting also included group discussions on how eGovernment can contribute to advancing sustainable development as well as the challenges and obstacles countries might face while implementing. They also discussed approaches and innovative practices in advancing eGovernment for sustainable development along with emerging eGovernment approaches and trends to be considered for the 2016 survey. Also discussed was the United Nations report and how the trends can be measured by the Survey, as well as what enhancements can be made to the eGovernment Development Index (EGDI) and its components. In addition, how the Survey can take into account specific characteristics of countries including size, population density and the different level of government, particularly in big cities. In addition, how the Survey can better capture the usage side of online/mobile information services. Finally, a comprehensive review and summary of the discussions and comments to be filed by international experts in charge of the United Nations report for eGovernment, most notably a proposal to change the evaluation and assessment of the three main indicators (eServices, Human Capital, Communications Infrastructure). In this regard, the CEO of the eGovernment Authority, Mr. Mohammed Ali AlQaed emphasized on the importance of organizing this consultative meeting to develop guidelines to be pursued by countries to elevate their rank in the United Nations report for eGovernment, issued every two years with the next one issued in 2016. He also added that the results of this meeting will be channeled to benefit all participating countries, shedding light on the topics that will be included in the next report by the United Nations. He also pointed out on how the presence of regional experts adds greater value in which participants can take their guidance and apply their experience to their countries. He also added how representatives of GCC eGovernments being present contribute to ongoing cooperation between Gulf States especially in dealing with the common development plans. "eGovernments in the GCC seek to facilitate and simplify the procedures and services to their citizens. We are pleased that the GCC is ranked in the top 6 in the field of eServices on a regional level, which in turn drives us to always achieve the best for our citizens and businessmen or even services of government agencies," Commented Deputy Chairman of Kuwait Information Technology Society Mr. Qusai Al-Shatti. Director of the Research Center of Saudi program ‘Yesser', Dr. Majid AlDarehem stated that GCC eGovernment efforts are on that aim to enhance the Gulf Cooperation, and hosting this workshop reflects the plans that were put by these governments to collectively progress in the UN Report for eGovernment.