Qatar Participates in ITU-UNESCO Regional Digital Inclusion Week for Arab States
Doha – Qatar
The State of Qatar, represented by the Ministry of Transport and Communications, is participating in the events of the 4th edition of the ITU-UNESCO Regional Digital Inclusion Week for the Arab States running from Oct. 25 to Oct. 31 under the theme: “Serving the underserved in times of crisis: No one left behind”.
Adopting a multi-stakeholder approach, the Week brings together Governments, other UN and intergovernmental bodies, civil society, academia, healthcare professionals, the private sector and citizens in advancing digital inclusion efforts. The Regional Digital Inclusion Week is thus an opportunity to raise awareness, strengthen collaboration amongst stakeholders and advance efforts to combat all forms of exclusion.
Marking the Week by MOTC and its relevant programs and initiatives demonstrates Ministry’s eagerness to enhance cooperation ties with global organizations by making sure to take part in their events and activities in the light of MOTC programs and initiatives accomplishments in terms of digital inclusion for all segments of society. MOTC leaves no stone unturned to make sure access to ICTs is available for everyone in such a way that contributes to sustainable societal development in Qatar.
On this occasion, HE the Minister Jassim Saif Ahmed Al-Sulaiti said, “MOTC is committed to achieving digital inclusion for all, ensuring easy access to information and digital content so as to build an integrated digital society and enhancing people’s readiness digitally to be able to contribute to building up a knowledge-based economy in line with QNV2030.”
“Qatar has made significant progress on this front thanks to a set of legislations and steps and unique programs and initiatives that have been bearing fruits for over a decade. We always targeted a full digital inclusion for all segments of society, easy access to ICTs and making sure people benefit from them. These efforts have a few days ago been crowned with the State of Qatar ranking first worldwide on the Digital Accessibility Rights Evaluation Index 2020 (DARE Index 2020) released by the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies (G3ict),” he explained.
Created as the digital response to the QNV2030 to achieve the aspired-after digital future and shape a smart Qatar, the TASMU Smart Qatar Program under the patronage of MOTC is one of the future-oriented programs in relation to digital inclusion agenda.
To ensure the people of Qatar are ready, willing, and able to use digital services and adopt the upcoming digital transformation, TASMU is developing a refreshed national Digital Inclusion strategy, which aims to enhance digital Access, Skills, Motivation and Trust across the population, especially those at risk of digital exclusion.
HE Mrs. Reem Mohamed Al Mansoori, Assistant Undersecretary for Digital Society Development, MOTC, said: “Qatar’s sharing other Arab States in marking the Digital Inclusion Week contributes to highlighting several success stories written over the past years as well as future visions and plans and MOTC’s continued efforts to further increase digital inclusion levels among all segments of society across the country reaching ultimately to a knowledge-based society in smart Qatar. This is based on a great track record for several years now.”
She noted that TASMU comes in the heart of efforts that focus on bolstering digital inclusion and ensuring the adoption of smart services in the foreseeable future. “We conducted extensive benchmarking exercises and focus group interviews to ensure our Digital Inclusion strategy and the programs it will create will be implemented in line with best global practices.”
The benchmarking exercise was conducted to analyze the most impactful digital inclusion strategies and programs and extract best practices that can be applied in the context of Qatar. The study also led to the identification of potential partners that can help in delivering projects to increase digital inclusion locally.
The focus group interviews centered on identifying the digital needs and motivations of all population segments in Qatar and determining their existing digital proficiency.
Four key areas to drive digital adoption in Qatar have emerged as a result - access to the Internet, smart devices and e-payment facilities; basic digital skills and knowhow to search for, download, and use digital services; motivation needed to understand the benefits of digital services and encourage usage; and trust in using online services.
This research has led to the identification of several national digital inclusion programs to be rolled out in the upcoming five years. TASMU firmly believes that digital inclusion is a whole-of-society effort and will aim to partner with relevant organizations in Qatar to collectively ensure digital inclusion across the nation.
For example, TASMU will work with social service organizations to ensure their beneficiaries are upskilled and ready to embrace up-and-coming digital services. This will be supported by e-learning modules that teach people basic digital skills and increase their usage of useful digital services available for them.
TASMU is also planning on organizing annual nationwide events promoting digital inclusion in Qatar and celebrating organizations and individuals who help improve digital adoption.
In addition, TASMU is working on developing and enacting policies that ensure all digital services in Qatar are intuitive and easily accessible by different population segments. TASMU will monitor the progress of these programs and prepare periodic reports to ensure digital needs are being met throughout Qatar's digital transformation journey.
These efforts will build upon current successful programs launched by MOTC and which helped increase digital inclusion significantly; the “Better Connections” Program for the digital inclusion of expatriate workers, the “Wasla” intergenerational ICT learning program for the elderly and the “Cyber Safety” Program that highlights and affirms a culture of cyber safety and security to empower people to have a safer cyberspace and being responsible online. The program works in collaboration with various partners and cyber safety experts to deliver cyber safety educational programs and workshops such as “Akhalqi Qatar”, which aims to increase ethical responsibility in the digital world. The program also includes the SafeSpace online platform (safespace.qa), cyber safety awareness campaigns (online and offline), cyber safety ambassador program, a cyber safety digital library, among other projects.
MOTC’s “Better Connections” has been a unique digital inclusion program that helped bridge the digital divide for the expatriate workers segment in Qatar by encouraging them to take advantage of access to technology and opportunities for skills development. The program is one of the largest private-public partnerships. To date, it has equipped 1,921 ICT facilities in the expatriate workers’ domestic residences and provided ICT access to over 1.5 million workers.
Through an extensive volunteer training program, 27,000 digital champions were trained, who, in turn, trained their colleagues in how to use the computers and access services as well as facilitate communication with families and friends in their home countries.
TASMU aims to transform Qatar into a knowledge-based economy and society capable of achieving sustainable development. Driving sustainable economic diversification, TASMU produces tangible outputs that will improve the quality of life for citizens, residents, and visitors of Qatar.
To prepare the country for this digital transformation and to drive the adoption of these smart solutions, TASMU will continue to enhance its digital inclusion efforts.