Interview: Hessa Sultan Al Jaber
How will the recently launched Qatar e-Government 2020 Strategy facilitate a more conducive business environment and reduce red tape?
HESSA SULTAN AL JABER: The Qatar e-Government 2020 Strategy is designed to transform the government of Qatar into an online government. The positive impact will be felt across all sectors. Companies and private organisations will find it easier, simpler and faster to register and operate a business. Qatar’s strategy for economic diversification relies on creating the right environment for investment and businesses. To that end, a few critical projects have been identified and given priority due to their impact on the business environment in Qatar. Completed in 2014, the single-window Customs clearance, known as Al Nadeeb, has reduced the duration of the Customs clearance cycle from a few days to only three hours. The new system processed more than half a million transactions during 2014, resulting in smoother and more streamlined procedures. Another critical project in the pipeline is the Business Setup Service by the Ministry of Economy and Commerce. The project develops a single online platform for business owners to process all services related to licences and registration with the aim of accelerating services. The project is planned for completion in the fourth quarter of 2015. Other critical projects currently in progress include: real estate and authentication services by the Ministry of Justice; labour sector services by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs; and building permit services by the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning.
Which parts of the new strategy are targeted at enhancing public sector services?
AL JABER: The strategy has three main objectives: offering end-to-end e-services to better serve individuals and businesses, and driving user adoption of these services; increasing government efficiency; and promoting open government. The strategy will achieve this through a number of projects and initiatives, such as the e-services development programme, one for each government entity to plan and implement the changes needed to achieve the strategy targets of 100% of services online and 80% available as end-to-end services.
All of these objectives will enhance public sector services for citizens and residents by offering online options that are quick and easy to use. Services will cover a full range of areas such as health care, education, real estate, labour, etc. Over 215 new online services were launched from the fourth quarter of 2013 to the fourth quarter of 2014, and government entities are committed to launching another 400 services in 2015.
What key areas is the newly independent Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) focusing on?
AL JABER: A key part of the CRA’s plan is to establish a national regulatory framework for the ICT sector, which charts out a balanced approach to communications regulation in Qatar. The main objective of the CRA’s approach is to ensure that citizens have access to a broad range of innovative communication services. This move is in line with international best practices and benchmarking and has been effective in enhancing productivity and innovation across economies. Sustainable long-term development of the sector will be a major step towards improving the nation’s global competitiveness, and maximising consumers’ benefit.
Given the successful implementation of mobile number portability in 2013, when will fixed number portability (FNP) be introduced in the market?
AL JABER: The next step, naturally, is to bring a similar benefit to consumers in the form of FNP. CRA has been coordinating with the service providers and other relevant stakeholders to implement this key element in Qatar. The finalisation of FNP policy has established the key milestones and the underlying framework that will eventually make this another successful initiative by CRA. We are making good progress on implementation and expect that by 2016 individual and business consumers in Qatar will start benefitting from FNP.
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