Leaders TalkX: Click to Govern: Inclusive and Efficient E-services

28 May 2024 11:00h - 11:30h

Table of contents

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Full session report

Global experts discuss advancing e-governance and digital inclusivity at WSIS panel

During a panel discussion on e-governance and the digital transformation of public services, Mei Lin Fung, co-founder of the People-Centered Internet, emphasised the importance of citizen participation in governance. She introduced the session, highlighting the role of the WSIS Action Line 7 in fostering e-government applications.

Ivan John Uy from the Philippines detailed the country’s digitalisation efforts under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s administration. He discussed overcoming the challenges of connecting over 7,000 islands, primarily through satellite and wireless technologies. The Philippines has successfully integrated numerous government services into the eGovPH app, enhancing accessibility and efficiency.

Emilija Stojmenova Duh of Slovenia presented the nation’s Public Service Strategy 2030, which aims to provide all key public services digitally by 2030 while maintaining physical services for those without digital skills. She stressed the importance of digital inclusion, referencing initiatives like the Mobile Hero project and DigiInfo Points to improve digital literacy and support among citizens.

Mary Mungai from Kenya addressed the unique challenges faced by developing countries in implementing inclusive and efficient e-services. She proposed a five-point strategy that includes recognising unique circumstances, prioritising initiatives, improving digital literacy, integrating cultural realities, and developing strong policies for data governance. Mungai underscored the importance of creating an environment of trust and inclusivity for all citizens.

Fatou Binetou Ndiaye, representing Senegal, shared the country’s digital strategy, ‘Digital Senegal 2025’, which focuses on accessibility and innovation. She highlighted significant advancements in digitalising government procedures, including tax recovery, customs clearance, and university applications. Ndiaye emphasised the need for increased cooperation among stakeholders to build an inclusive and sustainable society.

In conclusion, Mei Lin Fung praised the WSIS proceedings as a valuable resource for digital transformation, underscoring the importance of international cooperation and learning from each other’s experiences. The panelists collectively demonstrated a commitment to advancing e-governance and digital public services, with a focus on inclusivity, efficiency, and citizen engagement.

Session transcript

Mei Lin Fung:
Hello everyone, my name is Mei Lin Fung, I’m the co-founder of the People-Centered Internet with Vint Cerf. It’s delightful to be here. I’m so impressed with the caliber of speeches that we’ve heard this morning. For me, this morning began with a women’s breakfast. I already heard Amelia and Mary, but I want to single out the minister from Namibia earlier today. I’m from the People-Centered Internet, and she spoke to my heart, which is that we need the participation of our citizens. This is a session called Click to Govern, but we can only govern with the support of our citizens. I would like to actually consider a different alternative title, Click to Serve, Click to Serve Our People. With that, let’s begin. We were supposed to hear from Robert Opp, the Chief Digital Officer of the UND Development Program. He was supposed to speak about the United Nations support of the WSIS Action Line. This is WSIS Action Line 7, ICT applications and the area of e-government. The area of e-government is very close to my heart. I am a pioneer for decades in Silicon Valley. I think that one of the most important ICT applications is e-government. In many, many countries, e-government is the dominant application. That means the protocols and services set the stage for almost all other applications. Therefore, the importance of being a good role model for how ICT could serve the people is very important for every government. I am really looking forward to this panel, where in the spirit of WSIS, every country is sharing what they are doing. WSIS becomes what I hope it can be, a place where we can learn from each other, the use cases inspire and provoke to say, oh, I can do better than Slovenia. With that, let us get started. Our first speaker is from the Philippines. I am very delighted to have the Philippines be the first speaker because I am originally from Singapore, in Southeast Asia. His Excellency, Mr. Ivan John Uy, the Secretary of the Department of Information and Communications Technology. Your Excellency, what are the government initiatives to drive digitalization in the Philippines?

Ivan John Uy:
Thank you very much, Your Excellencies. It is indeed a great opportunity today to be sitting in this panel with my fellow e-government leaders to speak on how the Philippines has been pushing our digitalization. From the very first day of the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., he has already pronounced in his State of the Nation the direction of digitalizing the Philippines as one of the key strategies in becoming a more globally competitive economy. The direction has been leveraging all the different digital technologies available in order to enhance government services as well as develop more talents in that field in order to build our digital workforce. One of the most fundamental requirements for digitalization is connectivity. We deployed a lot of connectivity across our more than 7,000 islands. It was quite challenging because of the distance and of the size of the communities in some of those islands, which doesn’t make viable connections using fiber optics or more expensive ones. We’re using satellite technology and many of the other wireless technologies. We deployed our eGovPH app. This is a super app that integrates many of the different government services, the frontline government services. We’re talking government insurance, driver’s license, passport, payment of taxes, applying for business permits and licenses, your civil registry, health information, and so on. That was quite challenging because we were dealing with a lot of silos, government information silos, that were not communicating with each other. Some of them were legacy systems that could not be converted. In two years’ time, we were able to bring in at least 21 national government agencies and more than 800 local government municipalities into the system. This was deployed in less than two years. Today, we are able to integrate more applications in eGovPH, including e-travel, e-payment systems, e-commerce applications, e-health. We have an emergency reporting system similar to the 911, but instead of going through the phone and going through an operator, it goes directly through the app. It’s sent not to a police headquarters, but it’s sent directly to the police officer nearest that area. That police officer receives that. You skip a lot of the bureaucracy and red tape that goes through it. This is just an introduction of some of our eGov digitalization efforts. Thank you.

Mei Lin Fung:
Such a pioneer, the Philippines. Of course, they have so many challenges with so many islands. It’s a wonderful way to reach people using the apps. Our next speaker, the former chair of WSIS, Her Excellency Dr. Emilija Stojmenova Duh, the Minister of Digital Transformation. How does Slovenia Public Service Strategy 2030 contribute to inclusive and efficient e-services?

Emilija Stojmenova Duh:
Thank you so much for having me here at the panel. It is really great. It is the essence of the WSIS to share, to learn from each other. I was pleased to listen to what is being done in the Philippines. I see many synergies there. As you mentioned, we have our strategy for public services, but in 2023, we have adopted also our digital Slovenia strategy. When it comes to digital public services, one of the main goals of our government is that by 2030, all key public services will be available also digitally. Here, I would like to mention that the principle we follow is digital first principle, which means that we want to have all our services in a digital way, but we would like to provide them in the physical way as well, just because we still have a lot of people who don’t have the digital skills, and then we don’t want them to be left out as well. Then, in Slovenia, we already have an eID, electronic ID, which is also used in the health system. For us, it is important that by 2030, 80% of all our citizens will use the eID, and that these citizens will also use the eID for the digital public services, because this is the most safe and secure way to use the digital public services. Many of the services, it’s more than 450 services available in a digital way already. We also have eGov portal, like in the Philippines. We have many of the services available for the businesses there as well, but on the other side, one of our main challenges are the digital skills and competencies of the population. So, 50% of our citizens have at least basic digital skills, which means a lot of them don’t have already. So, what we are doing in Slovenia, we are funding a lot of trainings for all different age groups, for the younger, for the elderly. Maybe I would like to share an example of a project called Mobile Hero, where there is a mobile van which is traveling around the country and is organizing different trainings for the city, especially the elderly ones in their own environments, because we don’t expect them to come to us and to learn, but because we want them to use the services in a digital way, then we believe that it’s something the government should do, and to make sure we go into their environments and teach them how to use those services. Another project I would like also to raise your attention on is so-called DigiInfo Points. It was introduced last year. We are working this together with the post offices and the Chamber of Commerce, so we have more than 200 DigiInfo Points, physical DigiInfo Points, around the country, where people can come and there are experts who know how to use those digital services and support them, help them, because we believe that trainings are not enough and that people still have this comfort zone support, so if they feel insecure, then they will go there and somebody will definitely help them. Thank you.

Mei Lin Fung:
Oh, wonderful. Your emphasis on inclusion is so, so critical, because it’s not the easy ones to help, it’s the ones that are difficult, that we have to pay attention to, and it’s really worth it, because they are our mothers and fathers, our children, and so on, so thank you so much for the sterling example of Slovenia. Our next speaker is from one of my favorite countries, Kenya. Mary Mungai, Her Excellency, is the Chairperson of the Board of Directors for the Communication Authority of Kenya, and Kenya, many of us know, is the birthplace of M-PESA, digital money, and it’s really been a pioneer in many areas, so looking forward to hearing about what strategies are developing countries, what can developing countries adopt to derive value from inclusive and efficient e-services?

Mary Mungai:
Thank you, thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a great honor to speak at this important forum on inclusive and efficient e-services, particularly on what strategies developing countries can adopt in order to derive value from their digital inclusive efforts. To begin with, it’s crucial to recognize that although inclusive and efficient e-services present numerous opportunities for nations globally, the aspiration remains unattainable for developing countries due to the practical and distinctive challenges they occasionally confront. Many countries, including Kenya, have to overcome unique challenges ranging from weak infrastructure, low digital interest levels, inadequate financial resources, inadequate legal and regulatory frameworks, a lack of skilled personnel, and ever-expanding digital divide. That’s why we have to align with the global dynamics that influence how much value we get for our investments to realize inclusive and efficient e-services. What then must we do to overcome these challenges? Five things come to my mind. Firstly, we need to recognize our unique circumstances and develop approaches that are in line with our needs and priorities. This means we must adopt a comprehensive approach that addresses infrastructure, skills, policies, institutions, and citizen engagement. Secondly, we must prioritize initiatives, ensure the availability of financial resources as we create frameworks throughout e-services. We can achieve this through practical mechanisms like public-private partnerships, and thirdly, we must improve digital literacy through capacity building among public sector employees and end-users, as well as come up with legal safeguards on critical issues such as cybersecurity and data privacy. Also, we must figure out how to integrate our culture realities into the ecosystem, improve critical existence for structure, and raise awareness of the immense opportunities that e-services can bring. Fourth, countries should examine the quality of e-services with a focus on meeting and exceeding their citizens’ expectations. We must make it easy for citizens to interact with the services, particularly those with disabilities and the elderly. Inclusivity means being mindful of people’s diversity and ensure that everyone, regardless of their social standing, feels valued and cared for. That way, we can create an environment of trust and fulfillment for the citizens. Lastly, we must develop strong policies for domestic digital development and establish clear positions on issues like data governance, which can give developing countries leverage in the global digital order to promote social justice and anti-discrimination. In conclusion, developing nations can maximize the value of inclusive and efficient e-services, increase e-engagement, and establish an enabling environment by implementing these strategies in order to foster a more inclusive digital economy. Additionally, please give me one minute, additional critical aspects such as digital divides, capacity development, and international cooperation must be considered. You see, we are that world. That’s why we need people to come and invest in our country. So, I must explain. I therefore thank for providing us with various forums like this, where we can discuss our collective digital transformation agenda and come up with quick solutions by putting our heads together. Thank you.

Mei Lin Fung:
Thank you so much. It’s always a pleasure to hear about Kenya and the leadership in digital. I now turn to our final speaker from Senegal, Her Excellency Ms. Fatou Bintou Ndiaye, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Telecommunications and Digital Economy. I know you will be speaking in French, but I’m saying the question in English. What is the place of e-governance policy in Senegal’s strategy? In this context, can you share e-government projects carried out in Senegal?

Fatou Binetou Ndiaye:
Thank you very much, Madam Moderator. Good morning, one and all. If you’ll allow me, I’d like to mention that in Senegal in 2016, we already set out our digital Senegal strategy for 2025. Since then, our country has been committed to access, acceleration of development and opportunities to access ICTs, the ICTs, the ICTs, to access ICTs. Therefore, for this strategy, digital Senegal 2025, our vision is the following. In 2025, to digital accessibility for all with a dynamic and innovative private sector towards a performing ecosystem. Therefore, to implement this, we’ve also defined strategic objectives. I’m just going to touch upon the acceleration of digitalization of government procedures, which comes back to your question. Now, in this respect, we have undertaken important headway and in accordance with the WSIS Action Line 7, the applications were many, and I’m just going to just mention the main ones. So, to put in place procedures, particularly in the financial area, we have some platforms to allow for recovery of tax and also customs clearance has also become an online process. And then we have a system for civil servants in Senegal, which is also being put online. So, e-health is also a priority and e-commerce is also a priority in Senegal. Also looking at demilitarization of many procedures, and this is available in all areas across Senegal. You can also apply for university online. Also, we have customs clearance procedures. Also, job opportunities have been made available online for public roles. Also, I’d just like to draw your attention on the need to step up and strengthen cooperation amongst all stakeholders in order to build an inclusive and sustainable society for all in alignment with the WSIS Action Lines. Also, I’d like to convey my gratitude on behalf of the minister for the digital economy and to thank you for convening this important session.

Mei Lin Fung:
Thank you so much. It’s so impressive what Senegal has done. I went to recognize one of my friends from Senegal, one of the top African women, Magat Wade, who has been a great entrepreneur from Senegal. This gives us a chance to reflect on the WSIS Action Lines. As you mentioned, WSIS Action Line 7. These numbers are very important because it allows every country to look at what they’re doing in each of the Action Lines. And through each year of WSIS, you can see the reports of the statements by so many countries, what they have done in each Action Line. There is no better clearinghouse, better resource, better encyclopedia for digital transformation than the WSIS proceedings. I congratulate WSIS and the ITU on the leadership and digital transformation they are providing. So with that, thank you, panelists, and we’re done.


Emilija Stojmenova Duh

Speech speed

180 words per minute

Speech length

557 words

Speech time

186 secs


Fatou Binetou Ndiaye

Speech speed

132 words per minute

Speech length

337 words

Speech time

154 secs


Ivan John Uy

Speech speed

119 words per minute

Speech length

410 words

Speech time

207 secs


Mary Mungai

Speech speed

147 words per minute

Speech length

533 words

Speech time

218 secs


Mei Lin Fung

Speech speed

121 words per minute

Speech length

833 words

Speech time

413 secs