MUSCAT, 19 AUG - Public services provided by as many as 59 different Omani government ministries and institutions are proposed to be digitalised over the next four years as part of a wider strategic bid to drive the growth of a full-fledged Information & Communications Technology (ICT) industry in the Sultanate. The move is being spearheaded by the Information Technology Authority (ITA) with the support of a wide array of government agencies and institution. Importantly, the private sector will play a key role in the initiative, notably by financing this landmark project under a PPP-type framework.
Plans for the digitalisation of key public services stem from a month-long ‘Lab’ hosted earlier this year by the ITA with the support of the Ministry of Transport and Communications and the Implementation Support & Follow-up Unit (ISFU) of the Diwan of Royal Court. The Lab produced a series of recommendations for invigorating the growth of a strong ICT industry — crucial to Oman’s economic diversification objectives.
Outlining the rationale behind digitalising public services, a recent report by ISFU explained: “The existing digital government services in the Sultanate facilitate many transactions for citizens, governmental and private institutions. They also save a lot of effort, time and money. Therefore, this project is intended to accelerate the digital transformation of the most important government services. This will be achieved through the implementation of the public-private partnership financing model.”
The digitalisation drive will seek to “improve” the quality and demand for government services, according to the Information Technology Authority (ITA). “The project is also expected to improve the efficiency of government performance and raise the level of transparency, and will provide 490 job opportunities by 2022,” the ISFU report noted.
Following the conclusion of the Lab in March, the ITA embarked on the implementation of as many as 11 initiatives that were proposed by participants as key to kindling the growth of an ICT sector in the country. These initiatives envisioned the potential for 28 projects categorised into Hardware & Software, Services, and Enablers.
Combined investments in these projects were estimated at RO 104 million, with the potential to create around 2,300 direct jobs and over 9,000 training opportunities for Omanis by 2024.
ITA CEO Dr Salim Sultan al Ruzaiqi said the Authority is also currently reviewing the key directions of the National Strategy for the Omani Digital Society and eGovernment (e-Oman) until 2030 with a view to addressing new trends and developments impacting all aspects of Omani society and economy during the period of the 9th five-year plan.
“The future changes will be addressed at Oman Vision 2040, and the necessary requirements to face these changes will be mentioned in the 10th five-year plan,” he noted.