Focus on raising telecom, human capital scores

MUSCAT: Enjoying the 50th global position in e-government in the UN index, the Sultanate’s focus areas now are telecom and human capital, which stand at 63 and 72 positions respectively.

The Ministry of Technology and Communications (MoTC) is studying how to improve these two sectors.

Shariffa al Maskery, Director of International Relations and Communications at MoTC, said, “We are currently studying all possible aspects, the biggest challenge being updating timely and accurate data with UNESCO’s Institute of Statistics and telecom data with International Telecom Union (ITU).”

“These two organisations need time to validate 193 member states. So if we delay uploading our information on their dashboard, we would miss the chance.

Once the UN begins to gather the information and if our information is not up to date, they would use the old one.

So we will be working very closely with the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA) and ITU as well as the Human Capital Index and Institute of Statistics of UNESCO. They are all very cooperative but we just need to ensure that information is uploaded,” explained Shariffa.

COVID-19 has seen a move towards digital services more than ever and has seen a speed up to use Artificial Intelligence technology.

“The Ministry of Health is using Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to monitor people in quarantine. The Royal Oman Police is using drones to urge people to stay indoors. Government employees have been working from home is something we would have never dreamt of. Thanks to technology, we did not stop working even when we are at home due to the pandemic. Universities, colleges and schools have adapted to the situation by bringing education online,” she noted.

Many factors enabled the Sultanate to secure the 50th position in e-government. The two major factors – the e-transformation programme, and the MoTC’s work with the potential ministries to improve their portals and e-services – were mainly due to cooperation among the government entities.

The e-transformation programme sees the MoTC engaging with the whole of government – supporting, advising and training, to transform services to digital services, and hence in 2018 for the Online Service Index, Oman was ranked 43 and now it is on 24th position.