The continued and rapid evolution of ICT in Qatar requires policies and programs that encourage and facilitate growth through transparency and fairness. It also requires a state-of-the art communications infrastructure that enables businesses and individuals to easily implement and utilize new technologies as well as sophisticated security measures to ensure that everything runs smoothly.
Part of the strategy adopted by the Ministry of Transport and Communications is guaranteeing the installation of a national, affordable, high-speed broadband network. Further to this, it plans to develop an innovative and entrepreneurial market and increase the quantity of content on the Internet, including Arabic, newly digitized and other local material. A major goal is to increase the literacy of all members of society.
There are 11 different programs that exist under these spheres of action, comprising 56 actual projects that will be implemented over the next five years.
MoTC continues to develop a robust legal and regulatory framework. Numerous policies have been introduced to meet the needs of the marketplace, including improving security and transparency.
MoTC has undertaken many initiatives to spur increased ICT adoption among businesses and make it easier for all companies to comply with government regulations and procurement processes through streamlined online services.
Qatar’s economy has reaped the rewards of these efforts, with broadband connectivity among businesses increasing by 20 percentage points since 2008. And the country is ranked in the top third of countries for “ease of doing business,” based on the World Bank’s index.
An effective market driver of ICT usage and adoption has been government. Qatar is ranked third in the world for ICT government readiness, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report 2009–10. Through the enhanced sophistication and growth of many government services, especially Hukoomi, Qatar’s national e-government portal, MoTC has worked to foster a technology-friendly environment for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
By creating a robust and transparent online system for government operations and the public, MoTC has set a swift pace for ICT adoption across all sectors of society. i-Gov has improved access to information and made it more convenient for individuals and businesses to interact with government agencies. 1.4 million transactions have already been made using Hukoomi, the government’s online portal.
The Electronic Commerce and Transactions Law (e-Law) was enacted to encourage businesses and government entities to migrate more of their transactions online. The law makes online communications and financial transactions legally enforceable, establishing protocols for digital signatures, electronic documents, and authentication of payment. By enacting this law, the protections offered to business and consumers are greatly expanded, along with MoTC’s regulatory mandate.
It is the first electronic commerce law in the Arab region to include consumer protection provisions. In drafting the law, MoTC sought input from relevant government entities and businesses, and aligned its policies with international best practices from the United Nations, the European Union, and other countries and organizations to ensure consistency.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) approved MoTC’s authority to assign domain names in 2010. MoTC is also in the process of adopting a ccTLD (country codetop-level domain) and second-tier domain name registration model.
This system is expected to lead to reduced prices and better quality services for end users by giving them options for creating and managing their own websites.