Interview: Ahmad bin Humaidan
What type of impact can an extensive offering of e-government services have, and how will you focus your efforts in terms of government integration?
AHMAD BIN HUMAIDAN: The objective of e-government should be to ease the lives of people and businesses by facilitating an efficient and effective interaction with the government. We have implemented such a directive with the aim of establishing Dubai as a leading economic centre. By operating in harmony with all the government entities it helps to build a knowledge-based community through the optimal use of information and communication technologies in providing government services to all segments of society, as well as in the internal administration of government. To achieve this vision, we have developed a hybrid approach composed of centralisation and decentralisation. While decentralisation helps a department to focus its efforts on providing efficient and easy-to-use core services to its customers, centralisation lifts the burden off individual departments by providing them with numerous shared services. This strategy has paved the way for us to move toward the objectives of a connected government and of achieving electronic integration between departments and customers, making the government structure more efficient and customer-focused.
How is the demand for online payment affecting the implementation of e-government services?
HUMAIDAN: Online payment is an important component of online government services. Hence there is significant demand for both web-based and mobile payments. Dubai eGovernment, early on during its initiative, enabled online payments as a shared service for government entities. This has expedited the implementation of e-government services with online payment functionality, while creating operational efficiencies for the Dubai government.
The rapid adoption of online payment by government departments is a testimony to the quality of our online payment service, namely ePay. The total amount collected through ePay in the 2011 fiscal year surpassed $1bn, reflecting an almost 50% year-on-year growth over 2010. Similarly more than $870m was collected in only the first nine months of 2012, illustrating the continued growth of online payments by more than 23% compared to the same period of 2011. Mobile payment systems have also been developed, which gives customers the choice to use web-based or mobile payment platforms. Alternative payment methods are provided as part of the ePay shared service; i.e. customers can make online payments using credit cards, debit cards, prepaid cards and direct debit (account transfer). It is imperative that ePay services be enhanced with new features in line with the changing needs of customers and with emerging technologies.
To what extent and in what ways can the adoption rates of online services be improved?
HUMAIDAN: Taking major strides to make government services available online is a key component. Today, we have reached a point where more than 90% of government services can be accessed on the internet with varying degrees of maturity, thanks to the joint efforts undertaken by our government entities.
High adoption and growth of online payments has encouraged our government organisations to expedite the implementation of their online services. Both individuals and businesses have adopted online services as they provide solutions to their needs and help them achieve savings in terms of time and money.
Additionally, undertaking an eServices quality initiative is recommended. The results can be shared with government organisations and help them enhance their services in terms of providing a better customer experience. We believe that quality enhancements play a complementary role in achieving higher levels of adoption. Conducting customer surveys to identify the issues and drivers behind customer satisfaction and adoption also helps in understanding the needs of customers and translating these needs into priorities.
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