Zain Kuwait CEO Eaman Al-Roudhan

KUWAIT: Zain, the leading digital service provider in Kuwait, took part in a panel discussion that came as part of the first day of the eighth eGovernment Forum (EGOV8). The event, sponsored by Zain, was hosted by NoufEXPO in a virtual format titled ‘Integrated eGovernment; an urgent post corona need’ and came under the patronage of HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah.

The event’s opening ceremony witnessed the participation of HH the Prime Minister’s representative, Minister of Public Works and Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology Dr Rana Al-Fares, Senior Vice President, President of Huawei Middle East – Huawei Charles Yang, NoufEXPO General Manager Yousef Al-Marzooq, and many prominent government officials and private sector executives.

EGOV8’s first day featured a panel discussion titled: “Unified Permits System – Launch of Integrated e-Services and Government Process Reengineering Initiative”, which witnessed the participation of Zain Kuwait CEO Eaman Al-Roudhan, Chairman and CEO of the Communications and Information Technology Regulatory Authority (CITRA) Salim Al-Ozainah, General Manager of Kuwait Municipality Ahmad Al-Manfouhi, President of the Federation of Kuwaiti Engineering Offices and Consultant Houses Bader Al-Salman, and Senior Vice President of SAP Middle East North Ahmed Al-Faifi.

During the panel discussion, Zain Kuwait CEO Eaman Al-Roudhan said: “I’m very pleased to take part in this panel today alongside my colleagues, who wonderfully summarized the necessary steps for successful implementation of digital transformation within the government, whether in relation to Kuwait Municipality in particular or the general roadmap for accelerating digital transformation within the public sector as a whole”.

Al-Roudhan explained: “I would like to stress on an important point that we learned from our experience at Zain, which is a leader in both technology and digital transformation in the Kuwaiti market. We have taken a number of successful and effective steps in executing digital transformation internally at Zain, as well as having successful partnerships in the same area with the public sector. We have built many fruitful partnerships between Zain and various government entities, including for example the smart meters project with the Ministry of Electricity and Water, and the recent “Shlonik” app for enforcing home quarantine measures in partnership with the Ministry of Health, and much more”.

Al-Roudhan added: “it is imperative to have a unified and integrated platform for digital transformation to link government entities together. Our topic of discussion today, the Unified Permits System, is an example that I believe can go beyond merely issuing permits. Instead, the system can be utilized in a plethora of other post-permit purposes, including renewal, upgrades, updates, and more. One of the most crucial lessons we learned from our experience is the importance of the preparation and design phase of such platforms.

Specifications and requirements must be unified, and this is an important factor in making this platform as success”. Al-Roudhan continued: “the fact that every government entity adopts a different set of specifications and requirements for their platforms is simply not practical. Unfortunately, this is the reality today, as most government entities started implementing their own digital transformation process recently, but without unified systems, platforms, and filing systems.

In order to avoid having to re-invest from scratch, plans for such specifications and requirements should be carefully unified and integrated as a first step to achieve the desired digital transformation outcomes with utmost efficacy”.

Al-Roudhan further explained: “the hardest part of executing digital transformation is training users who will benefit from such systems (in this case customers or citizens), as well as training the government entity’s human resources who will operate, manage, and maintain the systems. In addition, there are financial investments needed for the software and hardware necessary to operate these systems”.

Al-Roudhan added: “another important note we learned from our experience and always stress on is the importance of reviewing processes. A common mistake that happens globally when implementing digital transformation is the automation of manual systems and existing non-electronic processes as they are straight into electronic systems. When doing this, digital transformation systems and platforms lose a great deal of flexibility and efficiency.

Here lies the importance of carefully reviewing processes and existing systems, whether for the permits system or others. And in case there are more than one entity involved, the integration process has to be simplified first, then the processes must be automated in the right manner. Like this, we can achieve the desired outcomes of digital transformation”.

Al-Roudhan mentioned: “the last point I would like to stress on is the importance of cybersecurity systems. We are in need of building sustainable teams and systems for cybersecurity, as we live in a fast-paced tech world. It is vital to unify cybersecurity systems against hacks, leaks, and weak points. These systems and all their related processes and workflows must be continuously and periodically reviewed in order for them to be sustainable, as these systems are an extremely important part of the overall success of the automation of any integrated system”.

Al-Roudhan concluded: “the private sector has a big and crucial role in government digital transformation projects in Kuwait. The Kuwaiti market is very mature from a technical point of view, and perhaps the best evidence on this is the rapid rate of smartphone usage in the nation. There’s also a recent study that outlines that the size of the e-grocery business in Kuwait during 2020 exceeded the Saudi one.

We all know the difference between Kuwait and KSA in terms of geographic size, population, spending expenditure capacity, and more. This is a clear indication of the maturity and readiness of the Kuwaiti market for digital transformation, and I believe it is important that we accelerate the plans we discussed to achieve digital transformation within the government”.

This year, the forum came in an all-virtual format to abide by health guidelines imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Zain’s support to the event for the fourth consecutive year affirmed its keenness on actively shouldering the various local efforts that contribute to developing the nation’s infrastructure and progressing national economy. This is especially true during such unprecedented times that demand doubled efforts and more collaboration between the public and private sectors to combat the pandemic’s impacts on health, economic, and social fronts.