MANAMA - Dr. Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, chairman and CEO of Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organization (TAG-Org), delivered today the opening keynote at the Bahrain International eGovernment Forum 2012.
The fifth Bahrain International eGovernment Forum 2012, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa, deputy prime minister, chairman of the Supreme Committee for Information and Communication Technology was inaugurated at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel with the participation of renowned speakers of specialists in the field of eGovernence and ICT to convey their experience and share knowledge.
The speakers are from leading countries in eGovernment based on the Readiness Report of the United Nations including (South Korea, the United Kingdom, Estonia, Japan, Belgium, Turkey, Poland, the Netherlands, the United States of America, Germany, Colombia), in addition to the participation of international organizations such as the United Nations, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
In his key address entitled “eGovernment for Better Citizen Services”, Abu-Ghazaleh highlighted the need to step forward and keep in pace with the continuous change of technology, challenges and essential factors to make eGovernment a success.
At the beginning of his speech, Abu-Ghazaleh commended the Kingdom of Bahrain for being at the top of the United Nations eGovernment List in the Arab region and for being among the highest performing countries in the world, outranking many developed countries.
“I wish to congratulate the Bahrain eGovernment Authority and its leader, my friend, Mr. Al Qaid, for turning His Majesty's vision into a living reality in the most outstanding manner. What has been accomplished in Bahrain in the short span of only a few years can serve as a beacon for others to follow,” he said.
Abu-Ghazaleh stressed that eGovernment is not an end in itself, however, it is a process and a tool to transform government and governance across the board adding that the goal of eGovernment should be the pervasive use and applications of ICT in its various forms and manifestations: the Internet, mobile, social media, audio-video, radio, television, in all facets of government operations to enable governments to perform more efficiently and effectively become more transparent and open and above all to deliver better and improved services to citizens.
“This involves the transformation of processes relating to government to employees, government to government, government to business, and, above all, government to citizen relations, including electronic voting and computerized electoral rolls,” he pointed out.
Answering the inquiries of how can governments deliver services better to its citizens, Abu-Ghazaleh believes that learning from the Bahrain strategy and experience, treating citizens as customers are treated by businesses is the first step.
“This means that ICT should facilitate easy access to public services, ensuring convenience, cost-effectiveness, efficiency, transparency and openness and an environment free of corruption and influence.”
Abu-Ghazaleh reiterated that in order for such a strategy to deliver what it promises, it is not enough to commit the resources and motivate government employees and institutions. Also Abu-Ghazaleh focused on the need for a new educational system that meets the digital age requirements saying that the word "education" in Romans means to pull which means that we need to return to the original educational goal which is learning.
“Real success will only come if the citizens themselves participate, engage and get involved in making the strategy come to life. This implies that citizen must be placed at the front and center of the whole process, starting from the formulation of the vision to the delivery of service. The technologies and tools for doing so are now readily available and are multiplying every day. The greater challenge lies in our own minds and in institutional inertia,”
In this context, Abu-Ghazaleh revealed the various initiatives TAG-Org is conducting to enhance the tendency towards eGovernance including the launch of TAGIPEDIA, the innovative portal of Arabic Content, which will be the essential solution for the weak Arabic content on Wikipedia; the Abu-Ghazaleh Cambridge IT Skills awards, offered in 400 knowledge centers established in the Arab world in accordance with a joint program with the University of Cambridge, in addition to the University of Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, the corporate, global virtual University of the future.
“We look forward to developing consensus on regional e-Infrastructures that can facilitate high speed access and to provide resources, relevant content, and education tools, which will form the engine for innovation for society as a whole,” Abu-Ghazaleh concluded.
The Forum is organized by the eGovernment Authority in cooperation with the Bahrain Society of Engineers, Bahrain Internet Society, and the Project Management Institute (Arabian Gulf Chapter).