Action Line C7. E-government: Eradicating Poverty and Promoting Prosperity through Digital Government

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[Read more session reports from WSIS Forum 2017]

The objective of the meeting was to exchange experiences and best practices on how e-government can help eradicate poverty; identify priority areas for implementation within the WSIS Action Lines;  share ideas on how to maximise the role and impact of public authorities; discuss better measurement processes for digital government development, and areas for collaboration and knowledge sharing among stakeholders. The outcome will be incorporated into the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) 2017.

Moderator Ms Marion Barthelemy (Director, Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA)) outlined the agenda of the meeting, highlighting that governments today want to connect to their citizens through e-government in order to ensure social and economic development. While highlighting the usefulness of e-government, she explained how countries implementing digital identity have shown striking figures, citing the example of India. While e-government promotes participation, she suggested the need to discuss what additional measures need to be taken to engage people and to address concerns of exclusion, once all services are online, and to measure the progress of digital governance.

Mr Yolanda Martínez (Head of Digital Government Unit, Office of the President, Mexico) outlined their country's digital strategy, and the telecommunications reforms adopted in 2013, to increase the use of digital services and the Internet. She mentioned that all digital services provided are aligned to the SDGs and that their government’s transformation agenda has five objectives: digital economy, transformation of education, effective universal health, civic innovation, and civil participation which relies on enablers such as connectivity, open data, etc.

For digital governments to be effective, she explains, nations need to adopt smart governance and to be clear on how digital government service platforms are being designed and offered. Also, there is a need for standards in digital services, cross border digital interoperability, adoption of new technology, the use of open data, open consultations, and co-operation among stakeholders.

Mr Alexey Kozyrev (Deputy Minister of Telecom and Mass Communication of the Russian Federation) talked about e-governemnt services in Russia, and the country's mission to create a seamless digital ecosystem between people and government. Their approach is client centric,  to ensure 70% of the citizens use the e-government services, out of which 90% should be satisfied, by 2018. The platform he shared is built using open standards, supporting both mobiles and desktops and provides cloud based digital signature facility as a safety measure.

Responding to a question on how access to the services is measured, Kozyrev elaborated that it is done through special research, a survey, and digital data form systems.

Mr Vik Bhoyroo (Executive Director, National Computer Board (NCB), Mauritius) spoke about Mauritius's e-government policy,  the services provided, the WiFi Mauritius project which has provided 600 hotspots and connected 270 computer clubs to Internet access. He also mentioned the nations open access policy for an undersea cable landing station.

Mr Kim Andreasson (Managing Director, Daka Advisory, Vietnam/Sweden) spoke about digital inclusion, pointing out that it varies, depending on parameters like digital development, and different types of digital divides. He shared the e-government trend of using artificial intelligence, big data, cloud computing, cybersecurity, smart cities, and SDGs. On e-government benchmarking, he suggested the need to measure and study its impact, coverage and trends.

Mr Luis Barbosa (Head, United Nations University Operating Unit on Policy-Driven Electronic Governance (UNU-EGOV)) shared the challenges of e-government and the measuring instruments. He mentioned the need to rethink the e-government evaluation process and focus on impacts, including those related to SDGs. He added the need for evaluation dimensions, including the study of transformational effects, infrastructure investment, political and sociological effects; economic and sustainability impacts; and partnerships for e-government services.

Members of the audience shared how e-government services are being promoted in Sudan and Nigeria.

The meeting was summarised by Barthelemy, stating that most countries want their citizens online and to promote participatory decision making. While there are challenges in developing nations related to security and capacity building, they can be addressed by the use of new technologies, developing standards, teaching people, and using social media to connect with people, among others. There is a need to make the services interoperable and measure the impact of e-government.

 

by Amrita Choudhury

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