The ministries in Qatar are joining together to accelerate digital government initiatives in a bid to make their services more efficient, effective, accessible, and customer-centric.
Building on the progress made over the past few years, the Qatar Digital Government programme aims to better serve both individuals and businesses. This will create an efficient government administration, while also developing a more open government with enhanced participation of citizens and residents.
As far back as 2003, an Amiri decree stated that all government entities should collaborate on e-government, leading to the launch of an e-government website offering the first digital services. In 2008, Hukoomi 1 was launched, Qatar’s e-government portal, followed by Hukoomi 2 in 2010.
In 2013, the then Ministry of Information and Communications Technology identified e-Government as a priority. A Steering Committee, comprising eight ministries, was charged with developing and guiding the implementation of a nationwide e-Government strategy. This led to the Qatar e-Government 2020 Strategy Executive Summary, which has one comprehensive vision: that ‘all individuals and businesses will benefit from connecting online with Qatar’s more open and efficient government’.
This comprehensive digital transformation roadmap, combined with the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, has resulted in the government of Qatar achieving its latest digitisation accomplishment, ranking fourth globally for the provision of digital services and subsequent adoption, according to a study by Boston Consulting Group (BCG).
This adds to other accolades previously bestowed, including global technology company SAP stating in March that Qatar’s government-led digital transformation ranks as the top technology trend of 2021, with advanced digital transformation amid the pandemic to better serve individuals and businesses.
Findings from the Boston Consulting Group study
The Digital Government Citizen Survey (DGCS) study encompassed 36 countries, 26 digital government services, and almost 25,000 individual responses.
As part of this study, the Digital Government in the GCC: Accelerating Citizen Trust report shows that the level of satisfaction of digital government services in Qatar is comparable with the averages of developing countries (58%).
Qatar’s digital services are widely received and have been met with a positive response. The report shows that 53% of Qatari respondents revealed they use digital government services at least once a week, 6% above the global average.
BCG’s study has also been influenced by BCG and Salesforce’s research to understand what customers expect from governments, under The Trust Imperative remit.
Governments in the GCC have recently prioritised increasing the quality and availability of digital services, to remain at the forefront of emerging technologies’ adoption.
According to Rami Riad Mourtada, Partner and Associate Director, BCG, ‘The disruptive nature of COVID-19 is universally acknowledged, yet subsequent repercussions have also demonstrated the unquestionable necessity for digital government services.’
Digital government services needed to expand quickly following the onset of the pandemic, leading to COVID-19 awareness, testing, tracing, information coverage, quarantine compliance, volunteer coordination, and financial support becoming available on e-government portals.
The Hukoomi e-government portal In Qatar has become an even more successful one-stop-shop, with efficient and accessible information and services for citizens, residents, visitors and businesses.
Dr Lars Littig, Managing Director and Partner, BCG, commented ‘The demographics of today provide a significant advantage to Qatar and the GCC, with 54% of regional citizens aged 24 or below. As digital natives, younger generations are greatly enthused by implementing digital services and expect world-class quality, enhanced convenience, and greater accessibility.
‘These traits are driving the widespread digital services adaption being witnessed across the region, as is urbanisation. At present, approximately 85 percent of those residing in the GCC live in urban environments and use digital government services frequently.’
The study’s other findings show that citizens in the GCC are satisfied with digital government services, acknowledging the multiple benefits offered including understandable language, platform accessibility, and easy access to information.
However, one concern in Qatar related to personal information security. ‘The value that digital government services have provided to citizens is abundantly clear. However, concerns have arisen among end-users with regards to data and AI,’ said Mourtada. He went on to say that governments must build trust with users of their platforms, providing assurance over the reasons why data is collected and issuing data governance policies.
Governments in the GCC can continue to build on digital service delivery processes and continue to add to the already impressive range of services offered.
Dr Littig noted that the Qatari government has already established itself as a digital services leader along with some other GCC governments. ‘Their respective and shared success will serve as a source of inspiration for others on the international stage, with leaderships sure to look at these countries as they aim to emulate their digital government services achievements.’
The full report can be read at bcg.com/en-mideast/publications/2021/digital-government-services-help-build-trust-of-gcc-citizens
Access a wide range of e-services on the e-Government Portal, Hukoomi, at hukoomi.gov.qa
NB: Following a Cabinet reshuffle in October 2021, the Ministry of Transport and Communications was split, becoming the new Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and the Ministry of Transport.
Author: Sarah Palmer
This is an editorial from Marhaba Information Guide – M81.
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