Learner’s Submission: E-Government in Bahrain

“Governments around the world are leveraging advances in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to enhance their service delivery mechanism so as to improve citizen satisfaction towards government. Similarly the Kingdom of Bahrain recognizes the importance of eGovernment and has been developing public online services since last half a decade. I experience that their online public service maturity level is continuously improving while they are introducing an array of public services for the residents, business, government and visitors of Bahrain.

The fact that encourages me to use their services is by having channels of choice option. The services are seamlessly available through eGovernment Web portal, Mobile Portal, Kiosks terminals, eSCs (Electronic Service Centers)& NCC (National Contact Center).  NCC offers an IVR system and is accessible through a Toll-free number within Bahrain.

The service I would discuss here is “Electricity and Water Bill Payment”. I quite often use this service and pay off my bill in a jiffy; the online presence of this service saves me not getting into counter queues. The service is accessible through National Government Web Portal, Mobile Portal, Kiosk Terminals, Electronic Service Centers (eSCs) and National Contact Center (NCC). The service has been designed with fairly simple and user friendly layout across all channels. It provides bill enquiry and payment facilities. User enquires about his outstanding bill and decides if he wants to proceed with payment or not. Service offers electronic payment through Debit and Credit cards while accepting all major credit card types e.g. Visa, Master, Amex. On successful completion of transaction, the service shows user payment receipt and offers printing option if the service was used through web portal. The receipt prints automatically if the service was used through Kiosk terminal. The payment receipt comes as SMS message at user’s mobile if the service was used through Mobile Portal.

While the service doesn’t require any sort of registration to use it through Web Portal, Kiosk terminal, it asks user to complete once-off registration to use the payment feature of the service through Mobile Portal. The user registration process validates user’s identity information issued in Bahrain (CPR Information). It also validates user’s mobile number by sending an auto-generated “Pin code” at his mobile number, advising to activate his profile using same “Pin code”. The “Pin code” enables user to initiate payments using service SMScode. User sends service SMS code to eGovernment designated number that has been registered with major telecommunication providers in Bahrain. E.g. to check “Electricity and Water Bill Payment” outstanding bill through SMS, a user would use following service SMS short code – ELC{SPACE}Q{SPACE}CPR No/CR No{SPACE}Account No – and sends it to eGovernment number relatedto his telecommunication provider in Bahrain i.e. Batelco (4949) & Zain (88311). User would receive his outstanding bill information as SMS message on his mobile number.

Electronic Service Centers (eSCs) provides personals assistance to use public services at free of cost. Residents who don’t have computer literacy can walk in to eSC center within their areas and with the help of eSC staff, would be able to use public services electronically. National Contact Center (NCC) services can be availed by dialing a toll-free number (8000-8001) within Bahrain. Users can use several public services through IVR while they can also contact support team for any difficulties they face while using public services online or can seek any enquires and information about government services in Bahrain.

I believe with all eGovernment advancements in Bahrain, the government is still exploring more advance mechanisms for delivering online services to their users. Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) is one of the promising models and needs to be adopted to achieve next level of public service delivery and to gain economic benefits to government.” – Aamir Nizami – Manama, Bahrain

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