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GCC paint on e-readiness canvas
Where one would doubt the GCC states over their online governmental presence and transparency, the latest UN e-readiness survey says otherwise
August 1, 2012 4:03 by Muhammad Aldalou
According to research results revealed by the UN e-government survey, which takes place every two years, the Gulf Co-operation Council are the leaders of the world in e-Readiness. This feat is of course mainly attributed due to their surge in digital literacy and online presence.
Every two years, this survey measures not only digital presence among countries all around the world but measures transparency of governments and constitutions based on their online activity status.
E-government initiatives generally includes the adoption of ICT within the public sector of said country as well as striving to hit a more efficient, inclusive, sustainable and above all, transparent mark.
But having a foot in the digital door is not enough, for the countries that hit the high ranks of this poll are ones that took their initiative to another level and subsequently moved further than the basic integration of systems and links. Offering a single point of contact to the public represents one of the major keys to progress within the e-readiness realm and that is where the GCC states have excelled.
Governments within the Gulf do still receive a lot of criticism for their lack of transparency in specific areas but are said to be pedaling faster down the track. Use of social media may not represent one of the e-readiness pillars but it can’t be ignored as a major factor in governmental transparency.
Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, has recently hit a social landmark whereby he has registered over 1 million followers on Twitter and considering that the population of the city is not much more than the double of that figure; it is an impressive feat. The ruler does turn his attention on his social media accounts to not only communicate with the public but to receive instant feedback.
“Although the UN 2012 survey shows that no country has a single sign on integrated portal, the UAE, Bahrain and Qatar are among the 10 closest to such a feat,” comments Jamil Ezzo, director general of the ICDL GCC Foundation.
The ICDL GCC Foundation, as the name suggests, is the sole entity that implements and disseminates the programme across the Gulf region. According to the director, the presence of the UAE, Bahrain and the Saudi Arabian Kingdom appearing in the top 25 ranks as 8th, 16th and 21st respectively is a feat. In fact, compared to the previous relevant survey, the United Arab Emirates has advanced 21 paces.
Among some of the other achievements of the Gulf states, comparing them to the 2012 findings, are feats that include the pace of progress, higher GDP and setting a higher bar for online services and development.
Digital literacy is one of the key indicators used by the UN report to measure a country’s progress in e-Readiness, it said, highlighting that over 150,000 people from the Gulf region had enrolled on its programmes, a marked improvement over the preceding two-year period.