MENA Countries Lag in Open Data Barometer and can Catch Up at the 2nd Data Driven-Government Conference
More than 300 senior government officials, Chief Information Officers, IT experts, ICT companies, public policy-makers, and suppliers will brainstorm at a two-day conference from Feb 15-16, 2022, to unlock a $3 trillion open-data opportunity
1. Governments can play a key role as data providers helping to unlock a $3 trillion open-data opportunity for the private sector and civil society;
2. Worldwide government IT spending is forecast to total $557.3 billion in 2022, an increase of 6.5 percent from US$523.2 billion in 2021;
3. The number of smartphone users in the world today has exceeded 6.37 billion, which translates to 80.69 percent of the world's population owning a smartphone;
4. The global market for big data estimated at US$130.7 billion in 2020 and projected to reach US$234.6 billion by 2026, growing at 10.2 percent year-on-year.
Race for excellence in effective governance gains momentum and will be the focal point of discussions at the 2nd Data-Driven Government Conference, taking place from February 15 to 16, 2022, at Movenpick Grand Al Bustan Hotel in Dubai, UAE, at a time when governments of more than 200 countries are shifting their focus on data-driven governance which will determine which government excels in leading their country in future.
Globally governments are working on the digitisation of the public sector, especially key government departments, authorities and regulators, to offer a seamless service delivery across all the channels. While some are at the beginning phase of data-driven government set up, others are migrating to the next-generation solutions.
The Middle Eastern countries are lagging behind in the race for the data-driven government, according to the latest update by the Open Data Barometer – that measures each country’s progress on data analytics and the use of data for improved governance – on certain parameters. They score 17 out of 100 on general average; 34 out of 100 on average in readiness score, 17 out of 100 on average in implementation and 10 out of 100 on average in impact.
“In general, countries in the [Middle East] region have made no progress on open data implementation and barely improved on open data readiness. The momentum the region had when most countries began their initiatives a few years ago appears to have faded,” it observed.
This makes the 2nd Data-Driven Government Conference more significant for the regional governments and public institutions who will gain significant insights into how to best gather data and use them for effective communication, governance, service delivery and ensuring social safety and national security.
More than 300 international and regional stakeholders from across the government sector, including but not limited to ministries, government authorities and agencies, consulting firms, and technology developers will discuss and debate on how to create the perfect data-driven government at the 2nd Data-Driven Government Conference where delegates will explore latest advanced solutions to establish a secure data management and analytics infrastructure.
A recent study by global accounting firm Ernst & Young says, “Even before the pandemic governments and public sector organisations recognised that digital technologies and reliable data are critical to improving services — from planning to commissioning and delivery.
“COVID-19 has increased the urgency to make better use of data and analytics and catapulted many organizations into the next stage of digital maturity. With more organisations having the foundational technologies in place, more data than ever before will be collected by, and on behalf of, individuals. The focus must now turn to how to harness that data to provide insights that can truly transform how services are delivered and improve outcomes for citizens and service users.”
A latest report by Gartner, Inc. says, worldwide public sector spending on IT and soft infrastructure is set to increase 6.5 percent from US$523.2 billion in 2021 to US$557 billion next year, as governments worldwide are allocating massive resources to strengthen data-driven government that will help the public sector to ensure smooth service delivery and help smart decision making based on data analytics.
While natural resources such as coal, oil, and electric power were the key resources of the previous phases of the industrial revolution; data, meanwhile, is the key resource of the current 4th Industrial Revolution – that is changing the way consumers, businesses and governments will re-shape their activities.
In 2022, increased investments in digital technologies will see governments spend 64 percent of total IT spending on IT services and software to improve responsiveness and resilience of public services, by better utlisation of data analytics. These include investments in enhancing customer and employee experience, strengthening analytical capabilities and scaling operational agility.
The current rapid development of ICT has brought about high performance and increased integration of the computing environment, mobile computing, and hyper-connection. This led to a stratification in data quality and a sharp increase in quantity, according to a report, titled Data-Driven Smart Government by the United Nations.
“While in the past, there was mainly ‘passive data’ that data holders or owners created while passively responding to the request of the data collecting actors, there is now a rise in ‘active data,’ which data holders volunteer to produce,” it said.
Governments can play a key role as data providers — both in the form of raw data and official statistics — helping to unlock a $3 trillion open-data opportunity for the private sector and civil society, says McKinsey & Company.
Amid the COVID-19 crisis, the global market for big data estimated at US$130.7 billion in 2020, is projected to reach US$234.6 billion by 2026, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.2 percent over the analysis period.
IT infrastructure and applications modernisation as well as digital government transformation will remain high government priorities in 2022, Gartner says. The COVID-19 crisis has further intensified the need for adopting citizen digital identity as a critical element to digital government transformation.
Going forward, data will play a crucial role in improving governance, security, consumer behaviour, understanding public mood on crucial issues that will help governments to undertake necessary measures to tackle threats, challenges and overcome critical situation.
Data building, data mining and data analytics capacity has become a key determinant to wealth and competitiveness in the era of the 4th industrial revolution, essentially causing a divide at personal, organizational, and international levels.
Leila Masinaei, Managing Partner, Great Mind Events Management and organizer of the 2nd Data-Driven Government Conference, says, “Data is the new goldmine and effective utilisation of data will determine the success of service delivery of the government – whether it is to disburse financial aid to the most vulnerable citizens or to allocate low-cost homes to the deserving citizens, or providing homes to the homeless, proper data will eliminate middle-men and reduce pilferage or wastage of public fund and resources and help identify the right beneficiaries.
“That’s why Data-Driven Government that will make decision based on the correct data – is the future of government and governance. The future on 7.5 billion people depends on how the governments serve them. So, the 2nd Data-Driven Government Conference is very crucial for all the stakeholders – all of us.”
At the 2nd Data-Driven Government Conference, a distinguished expert panel of speakers will include government decision makers and international industry experts who will discuss the region’s vision of data-driven government and to efficiently implement them to drive the quality of life and support their national socio-economic development.
H.E. Eng. Ali AlSuwaidi, Director General, Ajman Free Zone, says, “With the role of technology and the value of big data amplified even more during the pandemic, Ajman Free Zone is equipped with the latest technologies to leverage Big Data in providing services to its partners and prospective clients and not miss out on leading trends. As our operations are linked to other major and strategic partners, we ensure that these networks are active and operational.
“AFZ places huge importance on IT infrastructure in its strategy, realizing how data matters for the organization and to all stakeholders. To align with this strategy, we have invested in many integration systems, including recovery data systems, service management, as well as information security system. AFZ has also fully employed robotics in overseeing certain processes. We are excited and we look forward to using more innovative solutions such as AI in the near future.”
Data-driven government is key to achieve sustainable development and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, while most countries have enhanced E-participation and data-centric approaches and increased the focus in building digital capacities, according to a recent United Nations report on E-Government.
Data-Driven Government in MENA region
Digital government, an initiative to transform the way we deliver public services through technology and data, has been gaining momentum in the MENA region, particularly after UAE announced achieving 100 percent digital government and becoming the global leader by 2071.
Creating digital projects in the MENA region has long been the goal of many governments in the Middle East and North Africa. However, this progress must be supported by efforts from all stakeholders to enable governments to capitalise on opportunities, which will, in turn, contribute to economic growth in this region.
Laila Abdullah AL Hadhrami, Smart Cities Development Manager, National Energy Center- Oman, says, “Smart Cities projects is pushing us to be in a high demand to keep our services innovative so we can be sustainable and smart in the market and able to provide a quality of life for citizens through our smart solutions. In National Energy Centre we drive innovation starting from our employees to all our stakeholders to create successful smart cities projects.”
In a region undergoing significant political, social, and economic change, governments are beginning to grasp both their promise and limitations. From Jordan to Saudi Arabia, from Egypt to Yemen, there is a growing realisation that digital technology will play an essential role in ensuring success.
H.E. Mohamed Hassan, Executive Director of Statistics and Data Sector, Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre, United Arab Emirates, says, “Big data has emerged over the past decade without any warning. Given the pace of digital transformation, the wave of data has brought fundamental changes around the world, bypassing traditional trade barriers and creating a digital landscape of exponential data driven economic potential and an industry worth billions of dollars.
“The topic will revolve around how to read weak signals related to data disruption and the current data investments and mechanism for transforming the market value of some companies based on data, addressing data-based economies through the UAE model for future foresight, which includes building future scenarios for key sectors such as the data-based digital economy.”
The 2nd Data-Driven Government Conference, is supported by – The Saudi Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), Jordan Ministry of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship, UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP), Dubai Health Authority (DHA), Emirates Health Services, Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park, Saudi Digital Government Authority, Ajman Free Zone, International Association of Artificial Intelligence, Oman National Energy Centre (NEC) and Oman Information Technology Society.
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