KUWA-IT

Kuwait 2018 | TELECOMS & IT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Qusai Al Shatti, Deputy Director General of the Central Agency for Information Technology (CAIT), on implementing e-government initiatives, measuring progress, maintaining security.

Qusai Al Shatti
BIOGRAPHY
Qusai Al Shatti is the Deputy Director General of CAIT. Before joining CAIT, he was a specialist in the field of information technology at Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research and served as a Division Director at the Ministry of Public Works and Deputy Chairman for Kuwait Information Technology Society. He is a member of the Advisory Group of Internet Governance Forum, United Nations. He is also a member of the steering committee of the national e-Awards of the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Science. Al Shatti has a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from George Washington University, US.

What is the agency's role in the Kuwait government's strategy?

CAIT was established in 2006 as an oversight organization for the IT government sector. Our role is to participate in government strategies in the field of information technology, possibly with the council of ministers. We are also responsible for overseeing all IT projects within the government sector. We supervise the e-government project across governmental agencies and also manage the official electronic portal for the state of Kuwait. We are also responsible for the sharing of technologies and best practices among the IT departments in the government sector to perform their functions according to the specified standards. As well as building awareness in IT usage and e-government services, we evaluate and study the IT requirements and needs of the country. ICT helps the government to perform better. In 2016, we collected data and developed results in the form of ICT indicators on the work of various agencies, businesses, and non-governmental organizations; it explains how people use, access, and utilize IT tools, which affect all aspects of our lives today.

How much progress has been made in providing government e-services?

Once trust has been instilled among the public for e-services, the demand for e-services will then increase. For example, this year we have gathered, through e-payment, KWD94 million through our portal for government services, a growth of over 80%. In recent years, the annual growth of usage of e-services was no less than 50%. The most important thing we want is for the government to focus more on e-services and provide more e-services that serve our businesses and citizens. The key issue is ensuring that users of government services are satisfied with their experience .

How do you partner with private companies?

The IT industry today has a roadmap, and the industry has a plan for where it will be in two to three years. However, the impact of trends or developments affects how a company or government entity does its business and how they manage their resources, activities, and IT infrastructure and resources. It is crucial to partner closely with the industry to leverage all the innovations to utilize them to the extent that they can help us. For example, we have a national licensing agreement with Microsoft. We conduct a large amount of business with major private companies.

What is your role in the 2017-2020 national cyber security strategy?

There is a national strategy that has been signed, drafted, and initiated by the Communication and Information Technology Regulatory Authority (CITRA), and we are definitely a part of that strategy. Most of the critical infrastructure today is run by cyber and information technology via automated systems, for example, in the financial sector. This means any breach or attempt to breach security impacts the entire infrastructure. For example, the power grid in Kuwait is extremely important and if the grid goes down, the entire country will be hit hard. Today, hacking is no longer a hobby or an individual activity; it is organized crime. There is state-to-state espionage. Kuwaiti citizens use our e-services to pay fees, traffic violations, and more. We need to be resilient and protect ourselves from such breaches.

What steps do you take to become more efficient and create an e-government?

Today, all government entities exchange their correspondence electronically through Kuwait Information Network. Since 2015 we have introduced more than 270 e-services for all government entities. Some are social services like housing loans, social allowances, and building permits from the Kuwait municipality. The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has initiated the Kuwait Business Center where one can request commercial licenses and receive some of those electronically. The public authority of labor has also launched e-services for renewal or initiating working permits. We look forward to there being more transactional services. Our ambition is to be a leader in this area.