DOHA: With Qatar among the top countries in the region and the world in Internet penetration and e-governance, 51 percent of the public services in the country will go online over the next one year, according to a study released by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology yesterday.
This will show an impressive 15pc increase in one year, with an estimated 35 percent of public services currently being offered online. The services will include inquiries, transactional services, and transactions with online payment option.
According to the study-Qatar’s ICT Landscape 2013 — every 100 permanent government employees in the country have 101 personal computing devices, including desktop computers, laptops, and tablets.
The study indicates that in the next three to five years mobile applications along with face-to-face meetings will be the most popular ways government employees can communicate with citizens and residents, while social media will increase in popularity.
ictQATAR commissioned International Data Corporation (IDC) to conduct the study focusing on the current state of ICT penetration and usage within the government community in 2013, following similar studies in 2008 and 2010. It was conducted through personal interviews with 408 employees representing 34 government organisations
Qatar is well on its way to becoming a paperless government, shows the study. 87 percent of the government organisations surveyed indicated that they have fully or partially automated processes for areas such as human resources, finance, procurement, and inventory processes and systems.
58 percent of government organisations reported that they have already deployed or are planning to deploy new mobile applications for citizens and residents and 50 percent have extended or plan to extend existing applications.
While mobile applications have clearly caught on in Qatar, use of cloud computing services has not. 68 percent of the government organisations do not yet use cloud computing services.
While half of the organisational representatives surveyed indicated there were no barriers to further ICT adoption, 29 percent mentioned lack of in-house technical expertise, 26 percent cited the inability to hire IT professionals with the required skills, and 16 percent mentioned budget constraints.
30 percent of employees name work-related pressures and lack of time as limitations on their ICT use at work.
All government organisations are connected to the Internet at speeds of 2 Mbps or greater, with 55 percent having an Internet connection of between 4 Mbps and 16 Mbps, and 42 percent of organisations with connections of 32 Mbps and above.
Government employees who use a PC report that they spend approximately 26 hours per week on a computer for work-related purposes, a substantial increase over the 19 hours spent in 2010.
They use the Internet most commonly for sending work-related emails, searching for work-related information, and communicating with colleagues.
Qatar has also made significant progress in improving its online presence, with 95 percent of government entities having a web presence, and 82 percent having a bilingual (in Arabic and English) site.
Government organisations also indicate that, on average, roughly 30 percent of their ICT spending was allocated to IT security and that ICT training and recruitment of IT professionals in Qatar continue to be a challenge.
While government employees’ confidence in their ICT skills has increased since 2010, still only 36 percent reported that their computer skills are adequate and there is no need for improvement.
Seventy-five percent of employees indicate they have not received any ICT training within the last three years, but anticipate they will receive more than 11 hours, on average, of ICT training by mid-2014. In terms of recruitment, government organisations are actively looking for IT professionals.
The least widely available skills among government organizations in Qatar are those related to mobile technology, geographic information systems, and IT security.
Qatar ranks among the top 10 countries worldwide when it comes to ICT usage and prioritisation by the government, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report 2013.
Qatar also ranked 48th out of 193 countries in the United Nations’ 2012 e-government development index, which measures the willingness and capacity of governments to use ICT to deliver public services, a jump from 53rd in 2008.