Digital push to triple services

The government is aiming to triple the number of services it offers to citizens and residents as part of new digital transformation plans being drawn up.

There are currently 578 government services on offer on with 1,000 more to follow.

The Information and eGovernment Authority (iGA) is holding a forum with senior representatives from 28 ministries and government bodies at its headquarters in Muharraq, to formulate an action agenda.

“Let’s keep it short and simple,” said iGA chief executive Mohammed Al Qaed at a media briefing yesterday.

“Bahrain has a strong technical infrastructure that is fast, reliable and cybersecurity in place to ensure all information is secure and protected.”

He added that priority would be given to the most in demand services still without an electronic option, while eventually fully turning all 1,600 services digital.

Popular electronic services already offered include smart cards, traffic and health support. Future elements to come will feature scientific research, import and export, student services and job opportunities.

“We will insert artificial intelligence assistant in all new services, while enhancing the existing offerings,” promised Mr Al Qaed.

“We are partnering with ministries and government bodies to speed up the work on moving around 1,000 services that are still not offered online.

“We have a five-pillar strategy in which to reach our goal. The government should have efficient electronic services that don’t require people to attend offices in person or repeat information to multiple bodies.

“The focus should be on offering a reliable link that ensures all updated information is available for official work without someone needing to bring along piles of paperwork or upload information at each and every government establishment.”

He said simplified electronic procedures would save time for government employees as well as the people they are trying to serve.

“Since the outbreak of the pandemic last year we have doubled the number of services available online,” he added. “However, this doesn’t mean there are no glitches or technical issues and they have to be addressed swiftly with adequate contingency plans in place.”

He revealed that a dynamic disaster recovery centre, complete with servers and storage devices, will ensure that government systems continue to be operational even during emergencies.

“Work is ongoing on the Global Distribution Network (GDN) and the provision of new servers,” he said.

“By the end of this year, systems will be linked to the disaster recovery centre and a verification of its operational procedures will take place.

“Work is ongoing to map out 100 priority electronic services, while we look into the other future batch in line with anticipated need.”

The forum which concludes today has been organised in line with a Cabinet decision to achieve a comprehensive, government-wide digital transformation.

It is supported by the Supreme Council for Information and Communication Technology (SCICT), and the Ministerial Committee for Financial and Economic Affairs and Fiscal Balance.

The new digital policies include Open Data Policy, eParticipation Policy, Digital First Policy, Digital Services Act Policy, and One-Time Data Request Policy.

The decision will help enhance eServices and streamline their use by various sectors in accordance with best international practice. The participating entities have showcased key ongoing digital transformation initiatives, including eServices they are working on and proposals to establish electronic links with other entities.

The participants were also invited to discuss and enquire about the iGA’s digital transformation initiatives.

iGA deputy chief executive for eTransformation Dr Zakareya AlKhajah said that the forum plays an important role in realising the goals of its senior participants.

“The event helps formulate joint plans and strengthens the IT sector, in line with government directives,” he added.

“It also helps accelerate the pace of digital transformation and improves government performance with the aim of eventually automating all services to better serve citizens and offer them higher accessibility and functionality, while reducing costs.

“We have already launched 578 eServices and work is ongoing to offer all 1,600 in the fastest time possible, while ensuring efficiency and reliability.”

“The iGA’s various initiatives during the pandemic include BeAware Bahrain, the digital transformation of financial, judicial and education services, as well as remote work infrastructure. This is in addition to improving ID card services and the launch of self-service kiosks. He added new services for small businesses and scientific research would be also made available.




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