Digital divide and open government in the Arab region

ESCWA Publication: E/ESCWA/CL6.GCP/2021/WP.1

Country: Arab region

Publication Type: Working papers

Cluster: Governance and Conflict Prevention

Focus Area: Governance & enabling environment, Technology & innovation

Initiatives: Arab Open and Innovative Government, ENACT project

SDGs: Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

Keywords: Digital divide, Technological innovations, Covid-19, Economic aspects, E-government, Social aspects

Digital divide and open government in the Arab region

October 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the limitations of prevailing paradigms to effectively manage today’s complexities to advance sustainable development. In this context, open government and improved transparency in public management are necessary elements to build back better and ensure that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be achieved. In Arab countries, where the connection between Governments and citizens has been under pressure during the last decade, open government is also a tool to build the relationship between citizen and State.

The pandemic has also accelerated the process of digitalization across the globe. In this context, the issue of the digital divide has exacerbated inequality in the impact of the pandemic. While many of the coping mechanisms rely on moving towards online modalities, those with no access remain excluded and therefore more exposed to the impact of the virus and its economic consequences. Since open government approaches have a strong digital technology component, digital divides diminish the reach of such mechanisms to all people.

The present paper proposes a socioeconomic framework to assess key elements of the digital divide and open government in the Arab region. It also presents a dashboard to track and monitor the digital divide in the Arab region, and the status of open government. The dashboard’s goal is to facilitate comparison between countries, so that patterns of success and their correlates can be investigated. It also allows measurement of progress in terms of open government and bridging the digital divide.

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