Bahrain pledges online services push
Manama, July 1, 2014
Bahrain is promising further advancements in online services, despite already being ranked among the top 20 in the world in a United Nations (UN) report.
The kingdom was placed 18th overall out of 193 countries included in the UN e-Government Survey 2014, up 18 positions from 2012, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
Bahrain was the highest ranked Arab country and Transportation Minister Kamal Ahmed attributed the performance to a five-year strategy launched in 2011, which is still not finished.
"The next step is moving forward," he said. "In 2011 we launched a five-year strategy to develop e-Government.
"We still have not finished implementing everything that was part of that strategy.
"There are so many projects that need to be implemented, but as I said we are doing our best.
"We are not working in isolation, we are working with everybody both inside and outside the region to make sure we are ranked high again."
He was speaking yesterday (June 30) during a press conference organised by the eGovernment Authority at the Ritz-Carlton Bahrain Hotel and Spa.
During the event Ahmed said other countries were spending millions to improve their rank, which meant Bahrain must work hard to maintain and even improve its position.
"We have done it (raise the ranking) in the past and we can do it again," he said.
"To do it again will not be impossible, but we have to work hard to maintain our position and improve ourselves in different criteria.
"There are three criteria to measure this ranking; the infrastructure, the human capital and the web services and we have to better in all of them - not just one of them."
EGovernment Authority chief executive officer Mohammed Ali Al Qaed said focus should be placed on developing the human capital category, which measures e-government literacy and education among the public.
"In some areas there are other countries that are [developing] much faster than us," he said.
"So we might get a better rank worldwide if we focus on the human capital, which did improve as a rank but as a percentage it needs work."
Meanwhile, Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) chairman Dr Mohammed Al Amer said advances in the telecom sector had been influential.
"The earlier methodology of counting hasn't given us a lot of justice," he said.
"For example, taking consideration of the number of PCs or the number of fixed line connections in the country - these are no longer to be the measure for development.
"We pushed hard to try to amend those measures and introduce new variants, for instance mobile broadband - which has been in our favour. It made us have a big jump in the ranking."
Bahrain was ranked seventh globally for online service delivery, behind the US in sixth position and ahead of Australia at eighth.
It was also the only country in the Middle East apart from Israel to rank "very high" on the e-Government Development Index.
In terms of "e-participation" Bahrain was placed 14th, up five places from 2012. - TradeArabia News Service