Mid East Internet usage climbs by 55%

Information & communications technology (ICT) indicators throughout the Arab region have revealed a two-fold increase in ICT usage, which includes mobile phones and internet penetration.
Senior IT decision-makers in the government and public services sectors throughout the Middle East will convene at the Government Technology (GT) Summit & Exhibition 2006 which is developed by The World Development Forum to debate cohesive and practical strategies for the expansion of regional e-governance for the common good of the Arab world.

The three-day summit, in association with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and The League of Arab States, will take place on 3-5 September 2006 at the JW Marriot Hotel in Dubai.

Amongst an authoritative line-up of expert speakers, Salem Khamis Al-Shair, Director, eServices at Dubai eGovernment, will stress to delegates that much more still needs to be done to improve ICT still further.

‘Although the region has doubled ICT usage over the past year, Arab governments have realised that it is not just a question of investment to install IT infrastructure. E-Governance goes through five stages starting with providing online information and progressing to totally networked G2G, G2C and C2G transactional stages,’ he said.

‘Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and UAE are providing a definite impetus, but it is now time for the region to invest in human capital, not only for home-grown skills acquisition, but to create general awareness through change management which utilises education to reach all walks of life, especially the under-privileged and those with special needs,’ added Al-Shair.

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Khaled Eid, Managing Director, The World Development Forum, the organisers of the event commented, ‘The Arab world is climbing a steep learning curve in a steadfast manner. In earlier years huge amounts of capital were pumped into building secure IT infrastructures, but true e-governance is a two-way process and simply providing access will not address the problem. In particular small businesses and the public in general must adopt ICT for the benefits to be felt by society at large.’

As one of the main regional initiative in this field the UNDP ‘Information & Communities Technologies for Development in the Arab Region’ (ICTDAR), is supporting the ( GT Summit ) its to foster dialogue between the entire stake holder and leading IT players in Arab government to share knowledge and relate experience. Covering all Arab countries, ICTDAR also aims to assist Arab States in harnessing ICT to reduce poverty, address digital divides and improve both public administration performance and private sector hold and expansion.

As an integral part of their objectives, an E-governance programme was launched to provide policy advice to Arab government, establish a regional E-governance Institute (REGI) and setting up an E-governance portal to provide knowledge resources and tools as well as regulatory and legal information.

The GT Summit is an invitation-only event and will target, high-level government ministerial officials in communications, commerce, education, finance, health, infrastructure and public works. Leading figures in other public sector or NGOs will also be sought such as chambers of commerce, municipalities, the judiciary, civil defence, utilities and tourism.

The conference programme will address a range of challenging issues faced by regional governments today. Strategy related topics will embrace E-participation, E-government, IT governance, risk and compliance management, business process management and resources capacity planning. IT related subjects will cover the actual dynamics such as smart IT infrastructures, enterprise architecture, integrated service delivery channels, connecting communities through Digital Cities and information security, access, collaboration and integration. Brainstorming sessions will held to allow delegates to share their issues, concerns and potential solutions, in an interactive format.
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