Doha: Driven by a comprehensive digital transformation roadmap and COVID-19 response strategy, the government of Qatar has attained its latest digitization accomplishment, ranking fourth globally for the provision of digital services and subsequent adoption.
This is according to Boston Consulting Group’s (BCG) new study released yesterday, titled ‘Digital Government in the GCC: Accelerating Citizen Trust.’ This research is also inspired by BCG and Salesforce’s research to understand what customers expect from governments, titled ‘The Trust Imperative.’
As part of their respective efforts to remain at the forefront of emerging technologies’ adoption, governments across the GCC have prioritised increased digital services quality and expansion in recent times.
Action in this direction aligns with their overarching objective of elevating efficiency, leveraging new digital delivery frameworks, utilising citizen insights, and providing the population with newfound convenience and flexibility.
BCG’s study shows that the level of satisfaction of digital government services in Qatar is on par with the averages of developing countries (58 percent). Additionally, the digital service offering in Qatar has been met with a positive response, with the country’s citizens placed highly in terms of frequency of access. In total, 53 percent of Qatari respondents revealed they use digital government once per week minimum, six percent above the global average.
“The disruptive nature of COVID-19 is universally acknowledged, yet subsequent repercussions have also demonstrated the unquestionable necessity for digital government services,” said Rami Riad Mourtada, Partner and Associate Director, BCG.
The scope and variety of digital government services expanded rapidly following the outbreak, with COVID-19 awareness, testing, tracing, information coverage, quarantine compliance, volunteer coordination, and financial support offerings all emerging through online government portals.
This applies to the GCC in particular, where governments were central to the availability and delivery of numerous social and healthcare services. In Qatar, the Hukoomi portal has successfully served as a one-stop-shop for digital government benefits, making government information and services more efficient, effective, and accessible for citizens, visitors, and businesses.
“The demographics of today provide a significant advantage to Qatar and the GCC, with 54 percent of regional citizens aged 24 or below,” explained Dr. Lars Littig, Managing Director and Partner, BCG. “As digital natives, younger generations are greatly enthused by implementing digital services and expect world-class quality, enhanced convenience, and greater accessibility.
These traits are driving the widespread digital services adaption being witnessed across the region, as is urbanisation. At present, approximately 85 percent of those residing in the GCC live in urban environments and use digital government services frequently.”
The Digital Government Citizen Survey (DGCS) study – spanning 36 countries, 26 digital government services, and almost 25,000 individual responses – also highlighted other findings. GCC citizens are satisfied with digital government services, appreciating benefits including understandable language, multiple platform accessibility, and easy access to information. Meanwhile, real-time support and assistance were identified as a pain point, with other concerns in Qatar relating to personal information security.
“The value that digital government services have provided to citizens is abundantly clear. However, concerns have arisen among end-users with regards to data and AI,” said Mourtada.
“For governments, building trust with those they serve is paramount, and they must take proactive steps to ensure citizens fully understand every aspect of the services they provide, from data governance policies to how and why their data is utilised.”
As the ongoing pandemic nears its conclusion, BCG has identified the next steps GCC governments can pursue to implement decisive action and strengthen digital service delivery processes by continuing to improve the already impressive array of services offered, give citizens control of their information and focus on ethical data use, invest in data security at all levels of service provision, establish standards, guidelines, training, and regulatory barriers surrounding the ethical use of data and AI in the public sector and be proactive in your communications.
“The Qatari government has established itself as a digital services leader, joining a distinguished category that includes other GCC governments. Their respective and shared success will serve as a source of inspiration for others on the international stage, with leaderships sure to look at these countries as they aim to emulate their digital government services achievements,” added Littig.