Ninth Arab e-Government Programme Directors Meeting - United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia
16 December 2021

Beirut time


Ninth Arab e-Government Programme Directors Meeting

  • Zoom
Contact information

ESCWA hosted the ninth meeting of the Arab e-Government programme directors.  The meeting aims at promoting dialogue on the management of digital government programmes, and coordination on related policies and measures in the Arab region.  Participants address the work priorities, the challenges facing digital government programmes, the joint opportunities for developing these programmes and the best practices in e-government services.

This meeting was an opportunity to tackle the national plans and initiatives and to share countries' experiences in digital government, in addition to the different joint initiatives and projects.  ESCWA presented its activities in digital transformation, innovation and measurement indicators. 

Outcome document

  • Importance of e-Government meetings, organized by ESCWA, to share successful initiatives and exchange lessons learned to gain time and avoid wasting efforts
  • Encourage Arab e-Government directors to use the Government Electronic and Mobile Services (GEMS) maturity index nationally as a tool to measure progress in digital government transformation
  • Digital cooperation and development cover all sectors, engage all government entities and stakeholders, and be inclusive to address local needs of communities
  • Arab countries need to enhance the access to information laws and their implementation, develop the institutional infrastructure, adopt open government policies, ensure implementation at the local level, and enhance public participation and engagement
  • With more than 80 percent of the population in the Arab region living in cities, it is essential to develop smart cities that integrate public services within its urban governance operations

An overview of digital development and cooperation in the Arab region covered the national reviews and a regional report on digital development that involved the participation of 10 countries in 2020 and is expected to include 15 countries in 2021.  Activities include a regional framework for digital cooperation and internet governance, an Arab digital strategy, and ICT strategy, and would be followed by national technical cooperation projects that rely on national reviews and involve various entities and sectors.

Policy recommendations for the Arab region in relation to open government have resulted from the joint ESCWA-OECD report on "The Economic and Social Impact of Open Government" that builds on their experiences in the area of open government.  The policy recommendations emanating from the report cover the areas of access to information laws and their implementation, adoption of open government policies, developing institutions, adopting an open data strategy coupled with developing technical capabilities on opening data, implementing open government at the local level.

Updates on technical cooperation and e-government indicators for measuring progress in the Arab region covered the 2021 activities under the areas of digital government and transformation, and new technologies and innovation for sustainable development.   Activities covered several member countries and included the development of policies related to cloud computing, artificial intelligence, e-participation, digital transformation, and technology transfer, as well as capacity-building events. Collaboration also included a report on GEMS maturity index that reviewed the impact of covid-19 on the e-commerce, education, health sectors.

Strengthening smart cities within digital government programmes was considered essential in the evolution of digital government to better meet local needs.  Focus should be on optimizing smart applications and smart policies towards open government, and setting clear steps with pilot phases to explore, adopt and implement standalone projects at the local level.

Digital transformation in Qatar tax system was through stages that include the formation of a General Tax Authority and the launch of a tax system and related laws.  The system includes 58 automated tax services, and have enabled faster access to data, transparency, saving time and resources, as well better governance, tracking and analysis of data.  The development of the tax system relied on sound project implementation, remote work, support of staff and technology experts, e-archiving and e-networking with all entities and stakeholders involved in the tax system.

Prospects for digital transformation in Algeria was elaborated on as the means for digital development and reducing the digital divide.  National ICT infrastructure is being developed to allow higher capabilities and connectivity using fiber optics, advanced mobile technologies and satellites.  Three authorities were formed in 2021 to support digital transformation in Algeria and foster the use of ICTs for developing the digital economy, including e-commerce and e-payment.

e-Participation methodologies in Saudi Arabia go through a journey of using technologies for sharing information, and engaging people in e-consultations and e-decision-making.  It aims at empowering people to be business owners and partners in developing innovation systems that could engage youth and entrepreneurs.  Through an open data portal, more than 6400 datasets on various areas are shared for use by the public, entrepreneurs and innovators; and national hackathons are held to motivate the development of national applications and services.  An evaluation system for services enables reporting challenges faced and identifying good performance.

e-Government programme in Palestine is part of the 2021-2023 national plan for development, namely in the cluster for enhancing government services and meeting public needs.  It serves to enhance the quality of life, engage people in decision-making, and enhance government performance; and operates within a framework that includes national strategies and policies, legal, infrastructure, security framework, and data exchanges system that enables harmonizing concepts and data.   It features a data transfer X-Road for the safe exchange of data, a national digital transformation strategy, that relies on 10 action lines, and a portal for e-government services that allows e-payments.

The role of Cyber legislations in digital transformation in Libya was briefly covered, with highlights on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges faced, and a list of existing laws.  The country is in need for a clear national strategy that help moving forward.

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