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Brunei climbs 19 places in UN e-govt rankings
Source: The Brunei Times, by Ubaidillah Masli, http://www.bt.com.bn/news-national/2010/05/12/brunei-climbs-19-places-un-e-govt-rankings
Source Date: Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Focus: Institution and HR Management, Internet Governance
Country: Brunei Darussalam
Created: May 12, 2010

Sa Bali Abas (L), PMO permanent secretary, talks to Abdul Mutalib, PMO deputy permanent secretary during the launch of the e-government conference. Picture: BT/Rudolf Portillo

Haiyan Qian, director of UN's Division for Public Administration and Development Management under the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said that this year Brunei has been ranked 68th out 192 UN member states surveyed for the development of their respective e-governments. In 2008, Brunei ranked 87th.

The Sultanate ranks third in Southeast Asia after Malaysia and Singapore, which placed 32nd and 11th, respectively.

The top three countries that scored highest in their e-government development index this year were South Korea, the United States and Canada. South Korea also placed first in the category of people's online participation.

Speaking to The Brunei Times at the conference yesterday, Qian said that she had observed that generally, countries have been moving away from displaying only static information on their government websites to more interactive facilities.

"Two years ago, even basic facilities such as contact information were not even there on some (government) websites," she said.

Now, however, she felt that countries such as Brunei have shown marked improvement and were progressing at a much faster rate, partly due to the government's commitment towards the transformation to e-governance.

She said that due to its small population, Brunei could "leapfrog" its way to the top, in terms of e-government development, by focusing on public awareness and education. It should also remain focused on engaging citizens in the delivery process of services, she added.

Qian suggested Brunei to focus its efforts on improving web or Internet services, infrastructure and human capital development, as the country already has a good Internet literacy coverage and broadband infrastructure.

The UN director stressed that e-government initiatives had to connect all levels of society from the elderly to special needs individuals to youth and women. Accessibility and mobility of government services were therefore essential aspects to develop in the e-government drive, she added.

During her presentation, she said that currently 2.5 billion people have mobile phones and it is estimated that half of the world will possess the personal telecommunications device in 2015.

In this regard, she spoke of the potential of e-government reaching the citizens through mobile phone-based services, adding that Singapore was already working to make over 1,000 of its government services accessible via mobile phone.

The plenary session moderator, Sairul Rhymin C A Mohamed, acting chief executive of the Authority for Info-Communications Technology Industry of Brunei Darussalam, asked whether the creation of a national portal would have contributed to a jump in Brunei's e-government development ranking.

Qian replied that it did play a role and almost 100 countries in the survey have developed a national portal. She added that half of them have "good links" to sectorial ministry services.

"However, at the moment, we see some separation between national and government portals," she said.

The UN director said that national portals should be more citizen-centric, whereby the population can just visit one portal to find the service they require, instead of having to remember which service is provided by which agency. "It's just too complicated for the citizens."

She said it was necessary for governments to move from becoming "department-oriented" to "citizen-oriented".

The UN E-Government Survey 2010 found that citizens are benefiting from more advanced e-service delivery, better access to information, more efficient government management, as a result of increasing ICT use by the public sector.
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