October 23, 2020

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Denmark, Korea and Estonia Top the 2020 UN E-Government Ranking

As the COVID-19 pandemic forced countries to lockdown and close their borders, most countries have been pursuing digital government strategies, many with innovative initiatives but globally, many people still do not have access to online services, according to the 2020 edition of the United Nations E‑Government Survey, released 10 July 2020.

The UN E-Government Survey, published by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, is prepared over a two-year period and looks at how digital government can facilitate integrated policies and services across 193 UN Member States.

E-Government Rankings Worldwide

The E-Government Survey examines countries’ strengths, challenges and opportunities, and informs policies and strategies. The 2020 edition found that progress has been made across all regions, even in the least developed countries. Over 22 per cent of countries were promoted to higher levels of e-government development.

The 2020 ranking of the 193 UN Member States in terms of digital government – capturing the scope and quality of online services, status of telecommunication infrastructure and existing human capacity – is led by Denmark, the Republic of Korea, and Estonia, followed by Finland, Australia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, the United States of America, the Netherlands, Singapore, Iceland, Norway and Japan.

Among the least developed countries, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Cambodia have become leaders in digital government development, advancing from the middle to the high E-Government Development Index (EGDI) group in 2020.

“The pandemic has renewed and anchored the role of digital government – both in its conventional delivery of digital services as well as new innovative efforts in managing the crisis,” said Mr. Liu Zhenmin, UN Under‑Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.

In responding to the health emergency, governments have put in place new e-initiatives, such as dedicated COVID-19 information portals, hackathons, e-services for supply of medical goods, virtual doctor and hospital appointments and self-diagnosis apps.

Many countries were quick to deploy tracking and tracing apps, and apps for working and learning from home.

E-government digital divide evident

“While e-government rankings tend to correlate with the income level of a country, financial resources are not the only critical factor in advancing digital government,” added Liu Zhenmin. “A country’s political will, strategic leadership and commitment to advance digital services, can improve its comparative ranking.”

Although many countries have invested in e-government, the digital divide is still evident. Seven out of eight countries with low scores are in Africa and belong to the least developed countries group.

The regional average index scores for countries in Africa are almost one third lower than the world average EGDI of 0.60.

Pandemic highlights the importance of the role of Digital Government

The COVID-19 pandemic has now not only reinvigorated the role of digital government in delivering public services and in ensuring business continuity, it has also brought about innovative ways in managing the crisis, such as in contact tracing, e-health, online learning, and remote working.