DT News caught up with Bahrain’s eGovernment Authority CEO Mohammed Ali Al Qaed on the sidelines of the launch of the Arabic version of the United Nations eGovernment Survey 2014 in Bahrain yesterday.
He shared the challenges and the process followed by his team in turning the country into a better eGovernment hub.
UN eGovernment Survey 2014 has ranked Bahrain seventh on the Online Services Index and rank 18 worldwide in eGovernment Readiness Index and first among the Arab and Middle East countries.
Here is an excerpt from the exclusive interview with eGA CEO Mohammed Ali Al Qaed.
DT News: What was the biggest challenge you faced?
CEO: None of the initiatives we are working with or we deliver are owned by eGovernment, but by other departments. The challenge is, we have to coordinate with people who are not reporting to me directly, neither I have full control over them. They have their own priorities, thus it is a big challenge to coordinate the effort and to give a good service. eGovernment is not something about which I can write policy or re-engineer policy, I have to coordinate. It is about things under other departments.
DT News: How did you overcome that, what was your strategy?
CEO: The support we got from the supreme committee under the leadership of Deputy Prime Minister Shaikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa was excellent; we report to them and the ministry. We created working groups that were there in Bahrain since day one. We have three layers of working groups which include Undersecretaries, Directors – and in director level, we have IT and business, and finally the technical people.
People out there in the front, we have committees with them, we consult with them, we try to engage them, we made them part of the change management.
And, we gave education, training and organised workshops for the employees.
DT News: Are all these people from different departments?
CEO: Yes, hundreds of government employees are working for eGovernment, but from different departments. That was a challenge.
DT News: What is your team size?
CEO: 100 people work for eGovernment, taking care of admin, finance and coordination.
DT News: 100 people dedicated for the project?
CEO: Yes, Not a big number.
DT News: Where you think Bahrain can improve?
CEO: Being in top ten, I don’t think we have an easy target. It is a moving target. Actually, in the UN eGovernment survey, there were some countries in the top ten, which had slipped to the 20s. To retain our ranking, we have to work hard.
DT News: You have to keep running?
CEO: Of course, of course. We have to improve our ranking and the maturity levels. That requires a lot of effort.
DT News: That can be seen in the rankings Bahrain received, the effort. So, what other countries can learn from Bahrain and its achievement?
CEO: We have a programme. When we hosted the UN event in Bahrain, most of the countries had selected Bahrain as the country to learn from. UN organised fully-funded visits for 20 government employees from 14 countries so that they could learn from the Bahrain experience.
We had full-week intensive programmes. The participants wanted to learn from Bahrain in 28 areas of improvement.
Presentations of 20 to 40 minutes and one-on-one meeting were conducted. The entire programme was conducted by Bahrainis.
Since the programme was a success, I heard from UN recently that, most of the countries wanted Bahrain to conduct training.
We might have another programme in the coming months, probably as early as 2015.