Oman is looking to Singapore to guide it towards a futuristic model of e-government to make public service in Oman smoother, faster and more efficient.
There is great potential for further cooperation between Oman and Singapore in e-government services, given the challenges that the two countries are facing in this area, according to senior Omani and Singaporean information technology officials.
“Singapore is an advanced country in this area, and we are keen to use their expertise, especially the lessons learned during their transformation to e-governance. We can benefit a lot from them,” Sultan Al Wadhahi, Acting Director of e-transformation at the Information Technology Authority (ITA), told Times of Oman on Sunday.
He made the remarks on the sidelines of the Joint Oman-Singapore e-Government Seminar 2014, which was organised by the ITA and the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA). As a step leading up to Comex 2014, which will start on Monday, the meeting was held to facilitate exchange of e-government best practices and thought leadership between the two countries. It also focused on how governments can partner with the private sector to use technology to deliver great public service excellence.
Exchange of ideas
Al Wadhahi said that the seminar provided a good platform for the exchange of experience and expertise between the two countries. There are several challenges in the development of e-government services in Oman, he said, noting that the first challenge is human resources.
The complicated nature of the process of transformation towards a system of e-governance and the lack of necessary infrastructure also make the implementation of electronic services strategies difficult, Al Wadhahi added. Also, there is a need to develop strategies for monitoring the implementation of the projects, he said.
Al Wadhahi added that the ITA is trying to play a constructive role in paving the way towards e-transformation by providing consultancy and other types of support to all government entities to help them deliver better services.
He pointed out the recent agreement between the ITA and the Ministry of Health with ICT Health, a software development company, to design and implement the e-health portal for the Ministry of Health as an example of good cooperation between the institutions concerned to facilitate the delivery of services to the public.
Al Wadhahi also said that the ITA will be encouraging government entities to shift to e-services and use ICT facilities at Comex, which will run at the Oman International Exhibition Centre until April 11. New services will be offered at the expo, he said.
Kevin Chan, Centre Director (Middle East) of International Operations at the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), hailed Oman’s great progress in e-governance over the past years.
“We see a lot of efforts by our counterparts at the ITA to improve the interaction between themselves and the Omani public,” Chan told the Times of Oman.
The IDA has been implementing e-government services for the past 30 years and is keen to share its experience with its Omani counterparts, he said.
“We try to support the various initiatives as best as possible” in all areas, including e-education and e-health, he added. “We also facilitate study visits from Oman to Singapore.”
Singapore started implementing e-services 30 years ago but is still facing some challenges, Chan said, adding that the exchange of ideas between the two countries is necessary, given the need to adapt due to local experiences.
What may work in Singapore, may not work in Oman, considering the different cultures in the two countries and the time-frames set, he noted.
“E-government services implementation is a journey, and the ITA is on the right track and we will support them in ways as best as possible.”
Commenting on the seminar, the IDA official said that it focused on a range of topics from change management strategies to change management implementation and mobility and will help strengthen good relations between Singapore and Oman.
He also said that five Singapore tech companies will be showcasing their high quality innovations at Comex and there will be two visiting Singaporean companies.
These five companies will be exhibiting their e-government and mobility solutions at the Infocomm Singapore Pavilion from April 7 to 11 at the Oman International Exhibition Centre. This is IDA’s fourth showing at the Comex.