Wednesday 15 November 2006
Last Update 15 November 2006 12:00 am
JEDDAH, 15 November 2006 — The rapidly growing business and industrial activities in the Kingdom underscore the increasing need for the implementation of advanced systems such as an e-government program in Saudi Arabia.
Experts, who participated in the 3rd e-Government Forum held recently in Riyadh, stressed the pressing need for the completion of the process of e-government in the Kingdom in order to face the emerging challenges of the modern times.
The Council of Ministers allocated recently SR3 billion to implement an e-government project over the next five years. The project aims to bring 150 government services with 1,000 subsidiary services offered by 40 government departments under an e-government system. Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has asked government departments to undertake collective efforts for the achievement of this goal.
In a paper presented at the conference, Piero Corsini, IBM vice president of Value Creation and government team leader for Northeast Europe, emphasized the significance of an e-government system for the Kingdom’s all-round progress.
Corsini said in his paper that his company, IBM, with the cooperation of its marketing and servicing agent in the Kingdom, SBM, was the first to point out the importance of the e-government system for the Kingdom. IBM has been working on offering comprehensive solutions to the Kingdom. The company has vast expertise in offering such solutions to countries such as Canada, Britain and China, the IBM official added.
He also noted with satisfaction that the Saudi authorities have given special priority to the implementation of the e-government project. He assured that having such a system would raise the productivity and efficiency of the private sector in addition to offering better services to the business community. It would also raise the performance level of the companies besides saving up the required data with extreme precision and efficiency.
Corsini added that the e-government system is the creation of an environment in which citizens would be getting the best services including prompt replies to inquiries from any particular government department or several departments. He also argued that the system would increase efficiency in government departments which would in turn help the country catch up with the fast-growing international economy. The system would also expedite interaction between a government and its people on the one hand and on the other between different governments and business sectors.
The official said IBM successfully assisted more than 150 countries in offering e-government solutions. He expressed his optimism in implementing the system in the Kingdom in its second phase, which would have the advantage of rectifying several negative aspects in the first phase of implementation. He hoped that Kingdom’s growing population and thriving economy would contribute to the success of the implementation of the system.
He added though that there are some basic differences in technological development in the Western and Asian countries. Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Gulf region are passing through a stage of sustained growth in terms of economy and population, which are the two basic factors in the success of e-government programs.