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The newsletter is published quarterly and aims to keep readers up-to-date on the work of the Information and Communitcation Technology Division (ICTD), United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, Beirut, Lebanon.

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Advisory Missions in the 1st Quarter, 2014

During the first quarter of 2014 ICTD Regional Adviser, Nawar Al-Awa, conducted missions to several countries in the region, where he visited institutions and met with government officials on issues related to information and communication technology and development:

– In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia the e-services delivered by the Ministry of Social Affairs were explored and recommendations were made on how to enhance the deployment of these services.

– In Tunisia support was given to the High Engineering School of Telecommunications on their 2014 entrepreneurship contest and areas of collaboration were explored.

– In Yemen four assignments were carried out. The first was recommendations to the National Information Centre on project implementation, the second was recommendations to Prime Ministry on Business Process Reengineering, the third was a workshop focusing on automation and electronic applications, and the fourth was an advisory on the establishment of a Science, Technology and Innovation Observatory..

Advisory service to Ministry of Social Affairs, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

In the context of Technical Cooperation Programme that UN-ESCWA is implementing with Arab Member States, the Information and Communication Technology Division (ICTD) has carried out an advisory service to the Ministry of Social Affairs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, from 18 to 20 March 2014. The objective of this mission is to explore the current status of e-services in the Ministry and to recommend a framework for its enhancement and deployment

ICTD Regional Adviser, Nawar Al-Awa, visited information centers belonging to the Social Care Agency and the Social Security Agency. After meeting with technical staff in the Ministry, UN-ESCWA provided a framework aiming to promote the use of e-services oriented to individuals and to reduce the volume of paperwork handled within the ministry. This framework includes (1) improving the reliability of data centers, establishing a disaster recovery data center, (2) applying e-signature on selected pilot services, and (3) re-engineering the existing work procedures as part of e-service development, in order to optimize the current workflow among different departments in the ministry. On the other hand, UN-ESCWA recommended developing a change management plan that will include multiple awareness seminars, training courses and campaign ads targeted to individuals.

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Advisory Mission to Tunis, Republic of Tunisia

In the context of technical cooperation program, that UN-ESCWA implements with the Arab member states, Information and Communication Technology Division (ICTD)/UN-ESCWA has carried out an advisory service to the High Engineering School of Telecommunications (Sup’Com) in Tunis, from 9 to 12 March 2014, in order to technically support its 7th entrepreneurship contest-2014 for ICT projects. ICTD Regional Advisor (RA), Nawar Al-Awa, has thus contributed to guiding 16 ICT projects, participating in the Contest, in order to include innovative concepts, new ICT trends, and ensure its sustainability. Three of these projects won the first three prizes at the end of the contest, and it is expected that they would be the core of sustainable startups.

During this mission, ICTD RA discussed with the director of Sup’Com and the general manager El-Ghazala Technopark future cooperation opportunities, in digital Arabic content, entrepreneurship, and CT development.

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Advisory missions to Sana’a, Yemen

IIn the context of the Technical Cooperation Programme, implemented by UN-ESCWA in cooperation with Arab member states, ICTD, through the Regional Adviser Mr. Nawar Al-Awa, has implemented three advisory missions and one capacity building workshop in Sana'a in Yemen, from 1 to 7 March 2014.

1. National Information Centre

After reviewing the technical study of national information network, prepared in 2004, the general project framework developed in 2013, and two draft chapters of the updated study, which is under preparation in 2014, UN-ESCWA suggested several technical comments on project implementation, and proposed to start by a preparatory phase during which an ICT survey for government agencies could be carried out to determine the updated status of their connection to Internet, and their ICT qualified human resources.

In addition, during this phase, the legal framework of cyber legislations could be completed, and the draft data security, technical and semantic standards could be also prepared. In the second phase, the design of the main components could be updated, such as the national data center, the e-portal, and the government service bus. In the third phase, contracting and implementation could be carried out, in addition to gradually linking public institutions according to their readiness.

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2. Department of Information and Decision Support Systems in the Prime Ministry

After visiting the current automation system, available in the Prime Ministry, and the current status of e-portal, UN-ESCWA developed a series of observations on the current system, and suggested several recommendations, that could be grouped into three areas: technical recommendations concerning the enhancement of system reliability and performance, implementation recommendations related to selection methodology of pilot process to be re- engineered and automated, and capacity building recommendations regarding the training of technical staff, and training of simple users as well as awareness workshops dedicated to managers and decision-makers.

On the other hand, a two-day workshop was carried out for the staff of Prime Ministry that included four sessions on the following topics: automation and decision support systems, e-government and measuring, cyber legislations, and digital Arabic content. This workshop was attended by more than 50 employees in the Prime Ministry.

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3. Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research

An introductory presentation about the ICTD activities in general, and ESCWA Technology Center (ETC) in particular, was delivered to highlight those activities related to Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) observatories. The aim of this presentation is to explain the structure of STIOs, its success factors, and its primary functions. After discussion, it was agreed with H.E. Minster of Higher Education to continue cooperation with UN-ESCWA to establish Yemeni STIO.

In addition, a proposal of establishing a fund for the development of scientific research in the Republic of Yemen was also discussed.

On another note, and H.E. approved to make feely available all university resources in order to enrich the digital Arabic content on Internet, and improve universities’ exposure.

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