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iGA hosts forum on 2022 government digital transformation plan

November 3, 2021

Manama, Nov. 2 (BNA): Information and eGovernment Authority (iGA) Chief Executive, Mohammed Ali Al Qaed led the opening of a forum aimed at studying the Digital Transformation plans of Bahrain government entities for the year 2022. The event, which seeks to implement high level directives to accelerate the pace of Digital Transformation, is being held from 1st to 4th November 2021 at the iGA’s premises in Muharraq with the participation of Undersecretaries, Asst. Undersecretaries and senior officials representing 28 government entities.

The forum is organized in line with a decision announced by the Cabinet to achieve comprehensive, government-wide digital transformation. Carried out under the supervision of the iGA and in accordance with clear and carefully studied strategies, the plan encompasses all government services, aiming to further improve their quality through the deployment of the latest technologies, endorsed by the Supreme Council for Information and Communication Technology (SCICT), and the Ministerial Committee for Financial and Economic Affairs and Fiscal Balance.

Al Qaed welcomed the attendees, thanking them for their continuous efforts and cooperation which reflects their joint ambition to realize the vision of Bahrain’s leadership and government. He highlighted the accelerated rate of digital transformation during the pandemic, which he attributed to government directives and decisions taken by the SCICT that helped in enhancing the quality and efficiency of the services provided. He noted the importance of working together on these national digital transformation plans, including discussions on initiatives by individual entities, and coordination with the iGA for the necessary support.

Al Qaed said that the forum provides a unique opportunity for participants to integrate efforts and aspirations, particularly in light of initiatives such as the formation of the Government Services Improvement Committee, which is tasked with documenting government service procedures and requirements, prioritizing the ones proposed for development, and setting implementation plans to offer them online in coordination with the respective entities.

Al Qaed also praised the Cabinet’s recent decision to endorse and launch the new Digital policies, which included Open Data Policy, eParticipation Policy, Digital First Policy, Digital Services Act Policy, and One-Time Data Request Policy. The decision will help enhance eServices and streamline their use by various sectors in accordance with best international practice.

He highlighted the participants’ experiences in the deployment of digital technologies and solutions that helped Bahrain combat the pandemic, praising their efforts to ensure that government services continue to be offered without interruption.

iGA Deputy CE for eTransformation, Dr. Zakareya Ahmed AlKhajah said that the forum plays an important role in realizing the goals of its senior participants. The event will help them formulate joint plans and strengthen the IT sector, in line with government directives. This will help accelerate the pace of digital transformation and improve government performance with the aim of eventually automating all services to better serve citizens and offer them higher accessibility and functionality, while reducing costs.

AlKhajah revealed that the iGA, working with other entities, has successfully developed and lunched 578 eServices, available via its various e-Channels. Work is ongoing to offer all 1,600 of its services online. He added that the Kingdom’s digital transformation was significantly accelerated during the coronavirus pandemic, as evident by the iGA’s various initiatives during that period, including BeAware Bahrain; the digital transformation of financial, judicial, and education services; and remote work infrastructure. This is in addition to improving ID card services and the launch of self-service kiosks.

iGA presented the lifecycles of government services, the government digital transformation journey, projects that ensure government work continues uninterrupted, the evolution of financial transactions via the iGA’s various digital channels, and statistics on the number of National Portal users. The iGA has launched 20 initiatives in total during 2021.

Other digital transformation initiatives highlighted included the restructuring of internal operations, upgrading of data systems, establishment of channels linking various entities, the issuance of digital transaction regulations, plans towards eliminating public-facing offices, and digital transformation decisions related to government documents and certificates.

The iGA also presented an overview of the Operation and Governance department’s role in developing strategic initiatives that support digital transformation and help establish an advanced IT infrastructure. Discussing the Government Data Network (GDN) project, he revealed that the iGA completed procurements and signings of contracts related to the development of third generation software-based Wide Area Network (SDWAN), which relies on programmed technologies that identify cloud computing requirements and support app access. Work is ongoing to link the new system to a central storage device and upgrade current systems so they can accommodate the improvements.

The iGA emphasized the importance of cloud-based backups of government systems, adding that three backup copies will be created in two different places, including one located outside the entity to ensure nothing is lost.

Construction is finished on a disaster recovery center, complete with servers, storage devices, and an implementation plan to ensure that government systems continue to be operational during emergencies. Work is ongoing on the GDN and the provision of new servers. By the end of this year, systems will be linked to the disaster recovery center and a verification of its operational procedures will take place.

The participating entities showcased key ongoing digital transformation initiatives, including eServices they are working on and proposals to establish electronic links with other entities. The participants were also invited to discuss and enquire about the iGA’s digital transformation initiatives.