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Tue 21 Oct 2008 12:00 PM

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Singapore looking to guide Middle East eGovernment

Regional eGovernment projects can benefit from experience in integrated government says IDA Singapore.

Singapore can help the Middle East to move to the next stage of eGovernment, according to the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) of Singapore.

The government trade body, which aims to promote Singaporean expertise in information technology, says that governments in the region need to move from looking at stand-alone egovernment systems for single tasks, to developing integrated systems for interaction with the public.

Shaik Umar, Centre Director for the Middle East explained: “The challenges that governments are currently facing, in the terms egovernment, are the same that we went through some years ago. Today we are no longer talking about e-government, we are talking about integrated government.

“Egovernment is still in silos, you are talking to different agencies, even if they are electronic. Integrated government is engaging the government as one government, although there are many agencies behind it,” he added.

Integrated government systems, such as payment systems or business licensing systems cut out the need for an organization or an individual to have to deal with multiple departments and different processes, to complete a single aim.

“We no longer see egovernment as improving efficiency, we are looking at transforming the service sector itself,” Umar added. “We have been through the pitfalls and challenges, we have addressed things like the digital divide issues, how you do things like change management, and based on that we see there is a lot of potential for collaboration between Middle East countries and Singapore, either at a government or at a business level.”

The IDA is exhibiting at GITEX for the fourth time, with a delegation of eleven companies from Singapore. The company aims to showcase the expertise of Singaporean companies in key areas such as security, education and mobility, and to build bridges with government and the private sector in the region to boost trade.

IDA already has an office in Qatar, and has helped several Singapore companies to land multi-million dollar contracts in the Gulf region.

P Ramakrishna, director enterprise development, commented: “The Middle East is certainly a market we have been watching very closely. I think particularly in the area of the government sector, many of the Gulf countries are spending a lot of money to develop the way they serve their citizens, and that’s where we feel there is a good match between what our companies can do and the market potential here.”

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