Yemeni Steps Towards E-Government [Archives:2003/693/Community]

December 8 2003

Yasser Mohammed Al-Mayyasi
Telecommunications and information technology revolution has nowadays become the cornerstone of construction and development of any country. Reality depicts this fact as it plays a direct and crucial role in all social, cultural, economic, and development aspects by being used in all administrative and services as well as other walks of life.
Governments also use this technology in running its day-to-day affairs. Benefiting from the use of this technology in development, however, differs from one country to another. The industrialized countries, for example, have the lion's share of this technology. On the other hand, the underdeveloped or poor countries found themselves forced to use this technology in order to coexist and keep pace with the rest of the world. Yemen is one of the countries, which expedited the improvement of telecommunication and technology sectors by implementing policies that enhance the quality of their services. These policies take into account educating the public, and taking steps to implement the telecommunication and information technology system which will serve the nation's development. The Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology has prepared the National Project for Information Technology, which aims at assisting the Yemeni society to arrive at implementing the electronic government. The project was adopted by the Council of Ministers in November 2002 under the supervision of a higher technical committee chaired by the Prime Minister. This committee draws up general policies for the project while the Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technology was tasked with its execution. The committee arranged a number of activities to establish clear foundations for launching the services of the E-government. The latest of these activities was the regional workshop on the E-government in the Republic of Yemen which was organized by the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology in cooperation with Social and Economic Committee of West Asia (SECWA), and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The workshop with attendees from 14 Arab and international countries aimed at introducing the role the UN, especially the SECWA, and the UNDP in Yemen may be able to play in bringing this project into existence. In addition, it discussed the areas where those organizations may support Yemen in learning about the main issues of defining the E-government for Yemen, and providing decision makers with necessary data and expertise relating to the implementation of the project. The importance of electronic devices which enhance the performance of various sectors of the Government, and experiences of more advanced countries were also discussed.

Infrastructure of Telecommunications Sector in Yemen, and the Preparation of E-Government Project
The telecommunications sector in Yemen witnessed a gradual growth, which enabled Yemenis to stay in touch with the world. The pace was rather slow due to the scarcity of available means, however, the last decade of the twentieth century saw expansions of telephone networks from 153,866 lines in 1990 to 460,736 lines at the end of the year 2000. By mid of 2002, the lines increased to 627,832. Meanwhile, in preparation for the E-government, the Yemeni Internet Gateway was established, and the National Project for Information Technology “E-Government” was adopted. As mentioned earlier, several steps were taken to execute this project one of which was the expansion of telephone network which witnessed an increase of 500, 000 lines in 2001 plus the expansion of rural network by adding 115, 000 lines in 2000. With these expansions, both networks have a capacity of 1,400,000 lines. Of the projects relating to information technology, the first phase of the City of Telecommunications and Information Technology has been completed. The City houses various technological contents as the Yemeni Internet Gateway, the center for the advancement of the gifted, program development, etc. The second phase of the project is being executed where a representation of the government, private, and mixed sectors will be housed, and specialized centers for training, program development and applications will be constructed. Those centers will also house equipment assembly facilities, offer and exchange data and applications among companies, academic institutions, researchers and students. The adoption ion of the National Project for Information Technology (E-Government) which had an initial cost of U. S. $60 million is one of the practical methods of implementing e-government. Also, the design of a government site on the Internet that includes 31 sites for the ministries and government agencies, and 20 sites for the governorates. The President adopted a project to offer computers to employees of some government agencies at easy installments.