Industrial Information System in Yemen… Rooted Obstacles and Restricted Ambitions
Sawt Al-Amal (Voice of Hope) – Labeeb Shaif (Public Policy Consultant)
The industrial sector (i.e. transformative industries) plays a major role in the Yemeni economy, as it comes in second place after the agricultural sector, with a contribution rate of 11.14% of the gross domestic product (GDP), according to the latest statistics. This sector assumes an important role in employment. It is relied upon to achieve a boost to the Yemeni economy because the opportunity for its growth is great and the possibility of achieving great rates of contribution to the national economy in the future compared to other sectors.
Supporting this sector and determining the factors for improving its performance require the provision of multiple elements. The most important of which is the industrial information system. As it has a direct influence in supporting and developing this important sector. Many countries attach great importance to supporting the performance of the industrial sector and are working to develop it.
The Reality of the Industrial Information System in Yemen
The industrial information system is defined as a set of overlapping legislative and institutional components, systems and technologies, information resources and human capabilities. They work in a coordinated and integrated manner through which organization, production and exchange of data and information occur and coordination of performance efforts between the various industrial and concerned units in the sector.
Yemen is still in a weak and deficient position in its industrial system, as we find the reality of the components of this system as follows:
The legislative framework regulating the information aspect in general and the industrial sector suffers from obvious shortcomings and incompleteness. The delay in providing binding legislation regulating informatics in the country makes the opportunities for establishing an industrial information system limited.
The reason is because there are a number of unavailable cyber legislation related to e-government, information exchange, electronic transactions, information protection and security. All of them are unavailable and most of the available legislation is not updated and does not meet the needs of reality.
Institutional Frameworks for the Industrial Information System
The Ministry of Industry has an information center. Many factories and production units have technical information units and all of which represent the basic nucleus of the structure of the industrial information system. But there is a lack of a linking and coordination mechanism between them. Other institutions supporting the institutional system of the industrial information network, such as the Statistics Authority, the National Information Center and the industrial research centers and units amounting to 11 units in the country do not have any network connection between them.
In addition, the stakeholders who were interviewed for this purpose do not have a perception in this regard. This makes the chances of forming an industrial information system is still unattainable.
Industrial Information Content and Sources
It means all data, statistics, information, research, studies, reports and all forms of knowledge content that industrial sector units can benefit from to develop its performance, expand its productivity, and contribute to the national economy. Moreover, the world’s countries are interested in providing information content that supports the industrial sector and encourages industrial research to improve the performance of its industry sector.
However, the situation in Yemen is still deficient in this regard, as the publication of the necessary statistical data for the Yemeni industrial sector has declined, especially data on imports and exports. In 2014 the industrial survey stopped. The information publication on the industrial sector has declined since 2015 from 80% to 20%, and it was limited to the statistics book. The annual report is still late until 2019 and has not been issued or documented a lot of industrial data. The concerned who were interviewed in the official authorities and owners of industrial establishments believe that the information content is limited in Yemen and is not updated. Therefore, there is little benefit from it, and the stakeholders in the industrial establishments find it difficult to improve the reality of their industry based on the available data.
Industrial Information Systems and Technologies
Although the industrial sector, according to old surveys, represented 12% of the total economic enterprises in various sectors, this percentage rose to great rates, as the percentage of computerization in various large industrial enterprises reached 100%, and in medium enterprises 90%. These technologies included multiple information systems, including geographic information systems (GIS) and databases for industrial complexes.
However, this technology is not used efficiently in enhancing industrial performance. It is only used to document information and manage some administrative and financial operations, and it does not achieve added value in the areas of research, development and performance improvement, according to some respondents in the industrial sector. Yet it is an important nucleus and infrastructure that allows great opportunities for linking the industrial information system.
Technical Human Capabilities
All large and medium industrial complexes and units have sufficient human capabilities in terms of numbers in the field of information technology. However, some respondents in the industrial sector believe that the level of these capabilities is limited compared to the needs of these industrial units.
Although some large industrial units invest in building the capabilities of their cadres, the external polarization and leakage of these capabilities is a dominant feature. This puts industrial units in front of the problem of scarcity of qualitative cadres especially in the face of weakness in the quality of higher education outputs in this aspect.
Beneficiaries and Available Information Services
According to the National Information Center, the beneficiaries of industrial information data and services vary and include many categories. They are owners of industrial enterprises, decision makers in the concerned official authorities, investors, research and scientific institutions and centers, researchers, and students especially in specialized institutes and colleges.
However, institutions providing information services have almost stopped in each of the Ministry of Industry, the National Information Center, the Statistics Authority, and the Customs Authority. These agencies used to provide important services on industrial information, but the production of information has completely stopped for some of them, including the issuance of updated information in the last years.
Obstacles to the Development of the Industrial Information System in Yemen
The most prominent obstacles that prevent the existence of an advanced industrial information system in Yemen are identified as follows: the absence of an integrated strategy for the development of the industrial sector concerned with the existence of an industrial information system within its framework. Moreover, the lack of a legislative and procedural framework regulating informatics at the country level in general and in the industrial sector in particular. This is with the obsolescence of some based legislations and does not keep pace with local and global developments.
In addition, there is an imbalance in the organization and management of industrial information content especially data and basic information on industrial activity and the lack of sufficient and integrated databases in this aspect. As well as, the scarcity of qualified personnel, the high level of attracting qualitative and expert technical skills from abroad and from other economic sectors. Furthermore, the low use of technology in developing Industrial performance and limited to documentation or limited uses in the context of production and not in the analysis and development supporting industrial performance.
Among the obstacles: the scarcity of research and development activities related to the industrial sector and the absence of encouragement for it, lack of awareness of the importance of industrial information among the official stakeholders, as well as weak coordination between the government sector and the private sector in the field of industrial information exchange, and the weakness and decline in the level of providing industrial information services.
Opportunities to Develop the Industrial Information System in Yemen
Despite the existence of many obstacles facing the industrial information system, there are opportunities to overcome these obstacles and work to bridge the existing gap in this aspect. This is by building and developing the necessary components for this system in order to achieve the effectiveness of its role in developing the performance of the industrial sector, and work to achieve the elements of linkage Arab industrial information network.
Based on this, it is possible to identify the most prominent directions of work for the development of the industrial information system in the Republic of Yemen, which proceeds in two main directions: the national information network project and the industrial information network.
National Information Network
It is considered the nucleus of e-government, as it includes within its framework a group of sectoral and sub-networks and systems. It aims at establishing a national network for the exchange and dissemination of data and information at the national level that enables the expansion and development of information infrastructure. In addition to, assists agencies and institutions in different sectors technically and organizationally in establishing effective web systems to disseminate and exchange information and improve its performance.
The project, which was stopped in 2014 due to the suspension of funding, aims to build 30 sectoral and sub-information systems were built, to establish 16 sectoral information networks (agriculture, education, health … and others), and 2 national data centers. The Industry Sector Information Network is one of these sectoral networks, in addition to the establishing and linking 22 local information networks at the governorate level. It also includes working on developing a unified mechanism for managing and organizing information across the national network, and developing administrative, technical and human resources for government information centers and units that will be linked to the network.
In addition to building and developing national digital informational content and making it available to various beneficiaries through the network, the matter requires the revival of the project, which had a good infrastructure and in its framework a set of networked systems that amounted to 10 systems were built upon which can be built in the development of information exchange network at the level of government sectors.
Industrial Information Network
The industrial information network, whose idea was developed by the National Information Center, the Ministry of Industry and other relevant authorities previously before 2010, is one of the sectoral networks within the framework of the national information network. At the same time it is an important component of the industrial information system. It is also a means that paves the way for linking with the network Arabic for Industrial Information.
However, the political events after 2010 led to the cessation of work on this network. Despite the serious directions of the Ministry in this aspect, the pace of implementation of these tasks proceeded slowly. As a result of obstacles related to financing, providing the necessary human cadres, and the complexities in the existing work legislation and systems, which need a relatively long time to develop and create an appropriate environment for the transition towards electronic management within the ministry, its branches and other relevant authorities.
In 2011, the events and the cessation of financing led to the cessation of the project, which requires great efforts to restore it. Although the technical intention of the industrial units in the private sector has become much better than it was before the cessation of the project. This provides a better opportunity to restore the project if there is seriousness and interest from government agencies and industrial sector institutions.
Proposed Solutions for Establishing an Industrial Information System in Yemen
The proposed solutions are determined by: developing a clear strategy for the development of an industrial information system. As it is a priority for the advancement of the industrial sector, gradually providing the elements of the industrial information system and starting to develop cyber policies and legislation, then moving gradually to address each component of the system so that this allows achieving sectoral information integration within the framework of the directions of establishing the national information network. Additionally, giving special importance to the organization and production of informational content in a digital way, reproduce and issue the content according to what was previously from the concerned authorities and on the basis of creating an integrated and unified database for industrial data. The other proposed solutions are pay attention to achieving industrial networking at least with sub-systems such as: food industries, pharmaceutical industries … etc., under the auspices of the Ministry of Industry, as a prelude to a broad linkage of an integrated industrial information system. Moreover, to build the industrial information system and the industrial information network within its framework, so as to fulfill the conditions and factors of linking with the Arab industrial information network and coordination in that regard to obtain Arab support in this aspect.
51% of the Respondents Affirm the Significant Impact of Small and Medium-sized Industries on the Local Economy
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