Transactions generated through various eService channels exceeded BD100 million during the first quarter of 2021, soaring 173% compared to the same period last year in 2020, Information & eGovernment Authority (iGA) Deputy CE of Electronic Transformation, Dr. Zakareya Ahmed AlKhajah revealed. The results, announced in a Q1 2021 report, showed a major spike in the performance of digital channels and services, in line with the Government’s digital transformation efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic. The report also revealed an increase in the number of visits to the National Portal bahrain.bh, topping 3,570,000, an 83% rise. There were also more than 850,000 online financial transactions conducted, an 87% surge. Twenty-three eServices were launched during quarter one, with 18 currently in development and 45 expected to be launched soon in partnership with other government entities before year end.
AlKhajah said that the exceptional growth recorded during Q1 was the result of early investment in the Kingdom’s digital infrastructure and the deployment of advanced technologies, as well as partnerships between the public and private sectors. Digital transformation initiatives and the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector receive continuous support from the Kingdom’s leadership and government, reaffirming its commitment to accelerating the development of eServices. This has helped maintain Bahrain’s business continuity during the pandemic.
AlKhajah said that the pandemic revealed national commitment and cooperation among Government entities towards achieving Bahrain’s digital transformation goals. In line with this, several eServices were launched to develop the public sector’s ICT infrastructure. Statistics have shown an exceptional increase in the performance of government channels, mainly due to the automation of most essential sectors, including health, justice, housing, real estate, and others. This led to a record decrease in transaction times.
Of the 23 eServices launched during Q1 this year, 12 were by the Ministry of Interior and its directorates, including Nationality, Passports and Residence Affairs (NPRA) services, such as new visa and special passport issuance requests, visa transfers, and visa request cancellations; General Directorate of Traffic (GDT) services such as issuance of lost or damaged vehicle ownership and plate numbers ownership certificates; guard services; and ID card services including residential address updates. Ministry of Justice, Islamic Affairs & Endowments eServices include unified payments for judicial services. Ministry of Housing (MoH) services include new housing requests, housing application inquiries, contact and bank detail updates, and Mazaya and other financing requests. Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications (MTT) offerings include small ships services, including renewal of pleasure boat registrations, renewal of navigation licenses for pleasure boats, and status enquiry requests. Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) services include license issuances and renewals for developers.
Alkhajah said that the 18 eServices currently in development are related to a new law assigning the processing of minor accident cases to insurance companies as well as reconciled accident reporting; authorizations for vehicles passing through King Fahd Causeway; more ID card services; General Directorate of Civil Defense services; and more MoH services.
The report revealed that the National Portal, bahrain.bh recorded over 570,000 financial transactions, an increase of 70% than last year. At the same time, there was a jump in revenues to BD92 million, double the amount received during the same period last year. These results reflect the public’s awareness of government eServices and their value in helping them finalize their transactions easily and quickly via the National Portal without the need to visit service centers. The most popular eServices were ID card, judicial, electricity and water, and visa services.
The report also contained the results for the Government’s smartphone apps, which were used over 56 million times and generated 188,000 online transactions for an increase of 75% compared to Q1 of 2020. The revenue generated exceed BD9,200,000, which is an increase of 95%. This is due to the numerous features introduced to the apps, not to mention their ease of use and the convenience of accessing them at any time and place via smartphones and tablets. The highest number of users recorded was by the BeAware Bahrain app, followed by the ‘Sehati’ app with a increase of 330%, Islamiyat app with 281% due to the inclusion of services such as ‘zakat and charity’ and ‘Fa’el Khair’, and the Government Directory app with 218%. Revenues also increased for other eServices via the National Portal, namely the ones for Credit Report with 493%, the Ministry of Justice, Islamic Affairs & Endowments with 283%, and passport renewal by 182%.