The Better Connections Program Marks 100 ICT Facilities for Migrant Workers

Saturday, March 12, 2016
The Better Connections Program Marks 100 ICT Facilities for Migrant Workers

HE Jassim Saif Ahmed Al Sulaiti, Minister of Transport and Communications, inaugurated one more ICT facility at Doha Metro compound where Qatar Rail laborers live, marking the completion of the first 100 ICT facilities as planned for Phase Two of the Ministry’s Better Connections Program.

According to the program timeline, inaugurating the 100th ICT facility takes the number of worker beneficiaries beyond 50,000, who now become able to perceive, use and benefit from information and communication technologies where they live. Having access to ICTs tools, laborers learn how to keep connected with their friends and families, in addition to learning new digital skills.

This came at a unique event organized by the Ministry and witnessed by HE Minister of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs Dr. Issa bin Saad Al Jafali Al Nuaimi and stakeholder and program partner representatives.

Better Connections is an initiative designed to include migrant workers with little to no ICT skills in Qatar’s digital society by ensuring they have access to ICTs and the Internet where they live.

The event also marked the launch of “Hukoomi for Migrant Workers” – a portlet inside the Qatar e-Government Portal “Hukoomi” where workers can easily access all information and services they need, in 5 languages; Arabic, English, Hindi, Nepalese and Tagalog.

The multilingual portlet dedicated to workers is the fruit of wide collaboration between the MOTC, the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs and several other ministries and government bodies concerned with providing services to workforce based in Qatar.

In his opening remarks, HE Minister Al Sulaiti said; “All that we see today is part of the Ministry’s Digital Inclusion Strategy that aims to enhance digital culture among citizens and residents across Qatar, particularly those who have little to no ICT skills. The goal is to make sure that pretty much everyone has access to ICT tools. That what we could call success based on the vision of HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani toward building a better nation. That also observes our social responsibility commitment toward migrant workers.”

Ms. Reem Al-Mansoori, the Ministry’s Assistant Undersecretary of Digital Society Development said in a presentation that it is crucial to remain updated with today’s digital revolution by enhancing the digital skills of all sections of the society. This would help contribute to building the modern society effectively and boosting our smart cities transformation concept over the coming few years.

She also stated that:

  • The Qatar National Vision 2030 is the masterplan toward building the future of the State of Qatar,
  • It draws up the steps for building a knowledge-based smart society and creating a great life for all people in Qatar, regardless of their social status,
  • In Qatar, we have several digital inclusion programs that target specific segments of the society with the aim of helping them all to use and reap the benefits of technology,
  • Technology can positively impact the way people perform their work and communicate with government entities,
  • Examples of our programs are those tailored for women, people with disabilities, the “Wasla” program that aims to teach the elderly in Qatar how to access and benefit from information and communication technologies with assistance from their children and younger relatives and the “Haseen” program that aims to raise Internet safety awareness among children and young people. It educates them how to use technologies safely, responsibly and ethically.
  • One way to appreciate migrant workers’ role in Qatar’s urban development is the Better Connections Program, which is a key component in boosting the digital skills of migrant workers, thus supporting Qatar’s goal of building a smart society,
  • ICT tools have become at everyone’s hand and we see their impact on migrant workers’ lives. Technology helped workers to be part of our digital society. The program aims to boost workers’ digital skills in a way that helps them understand their own rights and the services provided to them, in addition to communicating with their friends and families,
  • The program not only aims to provide spaces equipped with ICT tools and Internet connectivity where workers live, but also trains them in how to use ICTs through a group of volunteers. The aim is to make sure these ICT-equipped facilities return with utmost benefits to workers,
  • Over the past year, the Ministry was keen to broaden the scope of the program and number of beneficiaries throughout Phases One and Two through great partnerships with several public and private institutions and civil society organizations,
  • The fruit of that collaboration is what we see now – a total of 100 ICT facilities where workers use and benefit from ICT potential and gain more digital skills,
  • The program has been receiving great feedback from beneficiary workers and employers. And we look forward to achieve digital inclusion in all workers’ residential areas, as well as all segments of society.

In a related development, the Ministry has welcomed three new program partners; Ooredoo, the Public Works Authority (Ashghal), and the Qatar Ports Management Co. (Mawani Qatar).

Three MoUs were signed per which Ashghal and Mawani Qatar will make sure their contractors provide facilities equipped with ICT tools and Internet connection for their migrant workers. And Ooredoo is the free Internet connectivity provider.

Mr. Waleed Al-Sayed, Chief Executive Officer, Ooredoo Qatar, said: "Ooredoo believes in the power of mobile communication to provide opportunities for everyone, and we are delighted to support this Digital Inclusion Program, which will expand the educational, employment and entertainment horizons of migrant workers in Qatar. Working with the Ministry of Transport and Communications, we will provide incredible connectivity for this program on the Ooredoo Supernet and support efforts to provide basic ICT skills training.”

Mr. Meshaal Sultan Al Hetmi, Shared Services Affairs Director, Ashghal, said; “We are delighted to cooperate with the Ministry of Transport and Communications through this memorandum which reflects the Authority’s keenness to enhance the workers’ welfare and improve their conditions. The memorandum aims to enhance the communications between the workers and the world around them by developing their skills and abilities to use technologies and digital communication from their residences. The Authority will encourage the contractors to provide information technology and communication facilities in the workers’ residences to support their needs.”

Mr. Mohamed Abdullah Al Maadeed, Support Services CEO, Mawani Qatar, said: “We are glad to join the Better Connections Program where we aim to enhance the communication channels between workers and the outside world by boosting their digital skills and enabling them to use ICTs. That collaboration also backs the State of Qatar’s developmental plans in order to further improve workers’ conditions.”

Noteworthy, the Ministry in the earlier stages of the program signed MoUs with many institutions and companies aiming to cover as many worker beneficiaries as possible, including RAF, ROTA, Microsoft Qatar, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), Qatar Foundation (QF), the National Human Rights Committee, Qatar Rail, Ezdan Holding Group, Musheireb Properties, Qatar Fuel (WOQOD), CH2M and QDVC.