GOVERNMENT GONE .GOV

Kuwait 2017 | TELECOMS & IT | FOCUS: DIGITAL GOVERNMENT

Kuwait is on track to meet its development plan's priority target of a digital transformation of government services through the provision of centralized platforms for e-government services and intra-governmental communication.

Addressing inefficiencies in Kuwait's public administration has been cited as the first out of seven key objectives under the 2017-18 development plan. At the center of this endeavor stands the digitalization and optimization of the country's complex civil service—a bulk of ministries, independent agencies, and state-owned corporations. According to a recent Accenture study, the digitalization of services plays a major role in economic growth, as it does not only lead to higher levels of innovation and competitiveness, but also often results in a GDP rise by 0.5% as well as a 2% increase in international trade volumes. In this regard, the Kuwaiti government has already made considerable progress in integrating the services provided by myriad government agencies. According to the United Nations' E-Government Development Index (EDGI), Kuwait has particularly ameliorated its e-government services over the past five years. Having started off as 63rd out of 193 countries in 2012, Kuwait climbed up to rank 40 in 2016. Outranking Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Kuwait's EDGI level is rated as “high” and is regionally surpassed only by Bahrain (24th rank) and the UAE (29th rank).

This continuous advancement can largely be attributed to the Central Agency for Information Technology (CAIT), which respectively digitalized intra-governmental communication as well as governmental services. With the help of companies such as IBM, Microsoft, and Dell EMC, the CAIT significantly improved the efficiency of governmental operations notably through big data analysis and cloud computing services. On the one hand, the Kuwait Government Online (KGO) portal, e.gov.kw, now provides citizens, expatriates, tourists, and even companies with a platform through which they can access more than 1,600 e-government services. The majority of services is hereby covered by the KGO, as the user portal is categorized into family-related matters, immigration, employment, an awareness section, transport, housing, Islamic services, health, education, special needs, as well as cultural services. The most frequently used ones range from electronic payments (Tasdeed) for electricity and water bills or traffic fines to ID renewals and inquiries about phone bills and lawsuits. While the government's guarantee of employment to all Kuwaitis has been a decisive factor in the state apparatus' enhancement, Kuwaiti citizens can now also register at the KGO in case they are seeking employment in the public sector where 90% of the Kuwaiti labor force is currently employed. Furthermore, entrepreneurs are not only enabled to register a company and receive respective licenses from the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) through the portal, but may also retrieve information on current laws and regulations or can market their business. Even though a host of e-services of the Public Authority for Civil Information and the Ministry of Interior are not included in the KGO, the portal serves as an umbrella for the government's digital presence and also redirects users to authorities' websites that are not yet part of the KGO

On the other hand, the Kuwait Information Network (KIN) was launched in order to enable high-speed and cost-efficient communication among governmental agencies and NGOs. With the goal of centralizing the entirety of governmental communication, whether it is voice recordings, data, or images, the KIN is not only protected by an fiber-optic network to prevent hackers from stealing confidential data, but has also become mandatory for all government agencies. According to a recent cabinet decision, all governmental bodies will also no longer use official papers for intra-governmental communication from 2017 onward. On the contrary, official documents will be entirely replaced by a government-to-government messenger provided by the KIN.