The Business Year

HE Rashed Lahej Al Mansoori

UAE, ABU DHABI - Telecoms & IT

Point & Click

Director General, Abu Dhabi Systems & Information Centre (ADSIC)

Bio

HE Rashed Lahej Al Mansoori is the Director General of the Abu Dhabi Systems & Information Centre (ADSIC), the government entity overseeing the Information and Communications Technology agenda of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Aside from his responsibilities at ADSIC, he also concurrently serves as the Manager of IT Advisory Services at Mubadala Investment Company, a wholly owned investment vehicle of the Abu Dhabi Government. In addition, he is the Chairman of the Board of Bayanat Company; Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Emirate Statistics Center Executive Committee; and a Board Member of Musanada, and the Infrastructure & Environment Committee Executive Council. Al Mansoori holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Management Information Systems from the University of Colorado, US.

How has the Abu Dhabi Systems & Information Centre (ADSIC) developed since it was established in late 2005? We began as a committee tasked to modernize Abu Dhabi’s services—basically covering […]

How has the Abu Dhabi Systems & Information Centre (ADSIC) developed since it was established in late 2005?

We began as a committee tasked to modernize Abu Dhabi’s services—basically covering all services, infrastructure, and legislation. Then, in 2008, HH General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan decreed that Abu Dhabi’s ICT capabilities and plans be placed under our authority. This meant that we had to act as a regulator, building the standards, policies, and the recommendations for the Executive Council. This mandate for us to move forward turned us into the Emirate’s highest ICT authority. We started in 2006 with a solid strategy of slowly laying out the right infrastructure, human capital, and systems in place. We have shifted all these services from 2006 to today, and now have very sophisticated systems for the Abu Dhabi Emirate. We have a government contact center where we have more than 50 integrated entities working around the clock. We have a portal with more than 1,000 services available at any time, in Arabic and English, which provides access to all local government services. This takes all of us to the next step; we don’t have to browse for services anymore, we can just conduct transactions remotely or by phone. This is the modernization we have been envisioning for government. We currently link more than 95 entities together, integrating them all under a single platform. We have another initiative that we call the “security program,” where we propose the framework and help entities to accommodate it. We intend to move forward beyond our achievements to date, though. We are now working with the entities to increase their maturity. When you think of our data center today, we are acting on behalf of the government in terms of ICT, and so we are helping manage the local IT budget.

How can an e-government platform create opportunities for the private sector?

One of the pillars of the Abu Dhabi government’s e-government strategy is strengthening partnerships with the private sector. In this regard, we are working closely with the private sector to provide solid support. For example, some companies are collaborating with government to perform the latter’s tasks. The government introduces the policies and the framework and then lets the private sector participate and deliver what it can.

What have been the challenges of this e-government strategy?

There have been various challenges, such as people preferring to stick with the traditional way of doing things. There are some who insist on paper-based transactions done over the counter; others have become comfortable going online, however. It is a cultural factor that will take time to settle in. Next-generation people such as elementary and secondary students are already using smart phones and devices and don’t imagine any other way of doing things. They have been asking how they can execute their transactions online. For such cases, we are working closely with Etisalat to reduce internet usage costs. We are basically encouraging more people to use online services.

How is the ICT sector contributing to the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030?

Today’s ICT sector has two dimensions. One is the creation of opportunities. By this, I mean the opening of new facilities and businesses, which IT can actively participate in, such as Mubadala’s foray into semi-conductors and Masdar’s heavy involvement with ICT. This is one of our strategies moving forward. We are also an enabler, and so we want to enhance theability of ICT to help industries meettheirrequirements. We have a single file for all medical records, for example, and this is where the ICT sector can participate. Education is another sector that can benefit from our ICT platform, as we can help deliver curriculum or monitor students online.

How important is inter-Emirate cooperation to your strategies, and how do you transfer knowledge?

I was part of the process of developing the strategy for the UAE. I am working with another board member to ensure we are aligning things properly. Today, we are trying to share whatever we have here to the other emirates.

What organizations do you work with to develop your strategy?

We have an international partnership with Oracle, Microsoft, and the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), which is involved with Geographic Information Systems. ESRI is based in San Diego and leads the world in that sector. We partner with many other key service providers. The good thing is that we do not discuss such matter as a center. Rather, we talk about them on behalf of the government and the entities we serve.

How do you partner with universities in Abu Dhabi to promote Emiratization?

We are working closely with the Tawteen Council as it is one of the main engines helping people move to the next step. The Council does not just focus on the hiring of people; it encourages skill-building as well. We have a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with all of Abu Dhabi’s universities and colleges. We are also running a program called e-citizens, which is not just for government employees, but also for those who lag behind in terms of internet usage. This is one of the initiatives that the government focuses on to educate the public, not just its employees. Citizens need ICT to utilize important government services. One of our successful projects is the training of more than 600 people, of which 350 passed the internationally accredited exam. The successful candidates can now register online, book tickets, send emails, and browse the internet, whereas before they didn’t know how to.

What goals have you completed, and what are you aiming for over 2014?

The journey toward e-government and Emiratization is endless. There is always an enhancement, a change, or an update required. Our program has more than 35 ongoing related activities. Some of these have been completed in terms of their infrastructure. The Abu Dhabi Network is being completed, and our government data center is ready, as well as our gateway for the Abu Dhabi government. Jobs Abu Dhabi is up and running with private sector participation. These are the milestones of our journey as a center, but there is still some work that every sector must deliver. Every sector wants a one-stop shop at the Department of Economic Development. This is an initiative that we have articulated, and forwarded to the Department for implementation. We have deployed the requisite infrastructure, connected the entities, and now the system works perfectly. There are also many projects related to tourism. All of these programs are being overseen by ADSIC to ICT-enable the various services out there.

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