Posted on December 12, 2014
Qatar has made much progress in all development fields as well as in its quest to drive and propel a thriving, diversified economy and enrich the quality of life for all members of society. It attached great significance to building vibrant and well-developed sectors and the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Is one of them.
 
Building on the significance attached by the government to this sector, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology continued its endeavors to create an ICT boom in line with the developmental goals of the Qatar National Vision 2030 and ICT market trends, as well as its Qatar National Broadband Plan that aimed to boost and enhance the development of high-speed broadband Internet. It is expected that spending on this sector in Qatar will increase by 7.6% percent to reach QR 15.6 billion in 2017, and that the size of ICT market in Qatar will grow by 10 percent to QR 24.7 billion in 2016.
 
Among the Ministry accomplishments were the establishment of the Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) to regulate the sector, and investment in building high quality, high-speed, affordable broadband network, speeding up the implementation of e-government initiatives, and strengthening efforts undertaken to protect Qatar’s ICT infrastructure and systems in order to provide advanced, innovative, and reliable communications services.
 
Many achievements were fulfilled last year, including the successful launch of Qatar's first satellite (Es'hail 1) to expand broadcasting capacities. The Ministry granted a Public Satellite Telecommunications Networks and Services License to Qatar Satellite Company (Es'hailSat). The License will remain valid for a period of 25 years from this year. Es'hailSat also issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the design and manufacture of its second satellite, Es'hail 2, which is expected to be launched in 2016 and will further enhance access to broadband services and premium DTH television content. 
 
The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology also launched the Qatar National Broadband Plan. The 10-year plan outlined four ambitious targets that will help ensure that the opportunities offered by broadband technology are realized and maximized. Qatar’s first-ever Broadband Plan represents the country’s commitment to becoming a leading knowledge-based economy by providing high quality, high-speed, affordable broadband services that are essential to future innovation and socio-economic development. 
 
It launched the Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) to encourage and support an open and competitive Information & Communications Technology (ICT) sector that provides advanced, innovative, and reliable communications services. The CRA designed the quality service framework and endorsed and revised copy of National Numbering Plan. 
 
The Ministry also enhanced its consumer affairs function by creating a Consumer Protection Department within the Regulatory Authority. The Department is tasked with ensuring that telecoms consumers are heard and made aware of their rights, as well as service provider obligations in respect of telecommunications products and services. The Consumer Protection Department will establish a dedicated call center to handle telecoms customer inquiries and complaints. The department will also conduct programs to increase the awareness of consumer rights. 
 
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According to the Global Information and Technology Report 2014 (GITR), Qatar continued its advance toward being one of the most networked-ready nations in the world. In the report’s Networked Readiness Index, Qatar currently ranks 23rd in the world and first among the Arab nations out of 148 developed and developing countries, maintaining its ranking from the previous year.  Qatar National Broadband Network, which focuses on the deployment of a passive dark fiber network infrastructure, unveiled its three-year strategy and signed several agreements with key industry parties to improve access to access to enhanced services. 
 
The telecoms market in the country continued to grow and its revenues surged 11% from QR 7.6 billion in 2012 to QR 8.5 billion in 2013. The sector’s net profit stood at QR 1.1 billion, while its mobile broadband subscriptions increased 32 percent last year to reach 1.6 million subscribers. The Ministry put in place several legal laws and regulations to protect from major threats to the digital space, especially after the Critical Infrastructure Information Protection Law was approved by the Cabinet. It is also working on the Data Privacy Law to ensure that personal data details are kept confidential. 
 
In the postal sector, the Ministry Communications and Information initiated efforts to modernize Qatar Postal Services Company (Q-Post), including the launch of Q-Post call center, and formed a steering committee to oversee the modernization process and to advise on how to enhance postal sector. It also developed the Qatar National Cyber Security Strategy, which represents a blueprint for moving forward to improve Qatar’s cyber security toward a secure cyberspace to safeguard national interests and preserve the fundamental rights and values of the society. 
 
In order to help empower the community so that it can contribute and benefit from this dynamic vision, the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology launched the Digital Inclusion Strategy that aims to reach out to those at risk of digital exclusion and enable the National ICT Plan to achieve mass ICT and Internet adoption by all segments of Qatari society. The Ministry expanded its iParks initiative and upgraded the Internet services in the three existing parks in Doha, Qatar. Free Internet in some of Doha’s most frequented parks has proven extremely popular for both people trying to balance work and leisure time, as well as people without home Internet connections. The extension of this service to the Shahaniya and Umm Slal parks brought the total number of iParks to 9.
 
The Ministry’s Qatar Assistive Technology Center (Mada) also Introduced National e-Accessibility Policy to make ICT more accessible for persons with disabilities, in addition to Mada Assistive Technology Portal to better serve the needs of people with disabilities in Qatar. The Ministry also unveiled Qatar e-Government 2020. e-Government uses technology to deliver real benefits for people who access government services. It seeks to achieve the target of 100% of government services online by 2020. 
 
The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology established the Digital Incubation Center to make it easier for digital entrepreneurs to achieve success. It organized QITCOM 2014, the pre-eminent platform for the information and communication technology (ICT) sector in Qatar. The Ministry released Qatar’s ICT Landscape 2013. The report said that Qatar has made significant progress in improving its online presence, with 95 percent of government entities having a Web presence, and 82 percent having a bilingual (in Arabic and English) site. 
 
The Ministry of Information & Communications Technology also prepared a new policy to introduce and implement the principles of Open Data in a standardized manner across all government agencies in the State of Qatar. The draft Open Data Policy will help in improving transparency, public participation in governance and delivery of efficient government services, thereby assisting the State of Qatar to achieve its national development goals.

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