The Digitization of Kurdistan Regional Government: Benefits and Challenges

Idow Abdal Khamoka

Technical Institute of Shekhan

The use of information technology in the field of governance entails great advantages and benefits, which many countries have been able to enjoy for more than two decades. The most important of these benefits are the ease of citizens’ access to information and services provided by the government without being restricted by spatial and temporal boundaries, reducing the costs of transaction, increased efficiency and reduced bureaucracy. In addition to combating administrative corruption and nepotism, increasing opportunities for transparency and enhancing accountability, and involving citizens in the decision-making process through some mechanisms to be followed by the government when applying information technology or what we call it as (e-government).

In this context, experiences similar to the Kurdistan Region may be more needed than their counterparts in developed countries which have a long political, administrative and institutional experience in adopting and applying information technology widely in governmental fields for the following reasons:

  1. The nature of traditional and tribal society in the Kurdistan region encourages the phenomenon of nepotism in official institutions.
  2. The bureaucracy in some institutions, which negatively affects the relationship between the citizen and the government.
  3. The phenomenon of administrative corruption in some institutions, is still one of the challenges that facing successive governments of the region.
  4. The security environment of the region requires the establishment of an electronic government system that can contribute to confronting crime at the level of internal and national security, especially after the developments in the field of artificial intelligence.
  5. The decline in political participation by citizens due to administrative routine and the attempt of some individuals to create barriers between citizens and the government.

In my point of view, adopting a professionally designed e-government will provide a great opportunity for the government to address many of the problems and negative phenomena that mentioned above, and the government will be able to pay its efforts to other development areas. As far as we know, the regional government has had serious initiatives and attempts to digitize the government for several years, but what has been achieved does not meet the aspirations. Therefore, we need to look for the reasons and obstacles behind this?

I think it’s easy to identify or diagnose a number of these reasons, which including:

  1. Those who benefit from the weakness and absence of the role of the legal and official institutions of the KRG, whose are the same people who benefit from the nepotism, corruption and lack of transparency, neither desire nor encourage the adoption of information technology in the field of governance in the region.
  2. The lack of sufficient financial materials to implement electronic government, as well as the lack of the necessary technical expertise in many government departments.
  3. The cultural and social heritage of citizens who they do not have sufficient knowledge in using information technology, in addition their lack of confidence in conducting their transactions digitally.
  4. The legal framework of government institutions is sometimes not appropriate for implementing e-government, so that framework must be updated and adapted.
  5. Instability and political, security and economic challenges in the region in general.
  6. The use of technology in the government field contributes relatively to reducing the government’s need for workers in its sectors. Therefore, many of those who are employees of the government, as well as those who want to work in the public sector, do not encourage the implementation of electronic government.

Despite all the challenges, in my opinion, it is necessary for the government to work seriously to digitize its institutions and adopt e-government, not only for internal reasons, but there is a global trend in this field that we must keep pace with. In addition, the federal government in Iraq has significantly used electronic platforms to provide some of its services to citizens, although the region preceded Baghdad in this, but within a limited framework.