The COVID-19 pandemic precipitated a transformative shift towards digitalization, significantly simplifying various processes. In the pre-pandemic era, cumbersome paperwork and prolonged queues characterized many procedures. However, with the advent of digitalization, a remarkable ease has permeated these processes. One noteworthy instance of this paradigm shift is evident in the Maldives, where the application procedures for essential documents like the national Identity card and passport have undergone digital transformation.
The digitalization of these processes has undeniably streamlined accessibility, enabling individuals to apply for these crucial documents from any corner of the country. This has translated into heightened convenience and efficiency, sparing people the need to endure long waits and navigate through intricate paperwork. The convenience, however, is not universal, as a segment of the population, particularly those technologically challenged, faces difficulties navigating the digital landscape.
For those less adept with technology, the complete transition away from traditional paper applications has presented challenges. The abrupt shift to digital platforms may pose hurdles for some, creating a digital divide that underscores the importance of considering varying levels of technological literacy within the population. Striking a balance between embracing technological advancements and ensuring inclusivity remains a critical challenge in the ongoing process of digital transformation.
While the online process was brought about due to requests from many in order to bring ease to these application processes, it appears that due to some challenges being faced by citizens who are less adapted to technology, the Ministry of Homeland Security is planning to also re-introduce the paper-application process, especially for national identity card and passports.
"We will take some steps very soon. Manual application is being considered, especially in the case of ID cards," assured Minister of Homeland Security - Ali Ihsan.
One notable aspect highlighted during the conference is that these alterations in the application process lack legal coverage under existing laws. Despite the absence of legal frameworks, the government appears committed to addressing the challenges faced by citizens. During the press conference, Immigration Controller Mohamed Shamman addressed concerns about online payment methods, acknowledging the need for potential modifications to ensure the ease of public transactions.
In addition to addressing the current difficulties, Shamman provided insight into the future of passport issuance. Efforts are underway to expedite the passport-obtaining process, with a commitment to issuing passports within a remarkable two-day timeframe.
With these challenges being addressed, there is a possibility that the application process in the future can cater for all, with the online application still making it easier for people to apply from the comfort of their own homes while those who prefer paper applications can also choose that path.