Dubai and Bahrain warms to e-Government
2008 saw e-Government take off in a big way across the region. Dubai Municipality reported almost 1.4 million e-transactions last year, issuing 1,300 building licences online. Other popular services included issuance of Health Fitness Certificates by the Municipality Clinic, Engineering Certificates issued by the Dubai Central Laboratory Department and the Municipality’s central system for passing financial invoices.
What’s most encouraging is the massive growth in usage of such services. It took over four years from October 2001 for the Municipality to process it’s first million transactions and last year there were 26,670 transactions per week as compared to 12,000 in the first phases of the project. The jump has been attributed partly to an increased number of e-services provided through the portal, which started with just 15 and now offers 492.
In neighbouring Bahrain, the focus is on the value of transactions and it’s e-Government Authority (eGA) saw a 200% increase in transactions processed. Its portal, which handles debit and credit card payments for government services, handled 12,550 transactions worth approximately US$2.49m with the overall value up 250% from 2007. The eGA also attributes the rise in transaction to an increased offering that now includes payment of utility bills, traffic fines, pre-employment medical check-ups and tuition fees for the University of Bahrain.
These advances go to show that if you make services useful and establish that the way in which they are offered is trustworthy, acceptance swiftly follows.