LAHORE: Pakistan was ranked 153rd among the 193 countries surveyed in the 2020 UN E-Government Development Index (EGDI) report which marks a decline in ranking in comparison with the report published in 2018 [148th].
Earlier, UN EGDI solely tracked the e-government development but now includes elements of digital government development of member states by ranking them across three distinct indicators including Online Services Index (OSI), Human Capital Index (HCI) and Telecommunication Infrastructure Index (TII).
This warrants a closer examination of the country’s digital transformation journey, and efforts to identify the reasons for both the low rank and the decline in 2020. Potential solutions that can help enhance Pakistan’s EGDI ranking and as a result, citizens’ experience with the government through the use of technology, should also be explored.
The report available with Dawn revealed that the factors ailing Pakistan’s digital government development include fragmented and siloed approach, lack of enabling telecommunication infrastructure and low affordability, digital skills gap, cyber security, data privacy and lack of trust, service design maturity and limited citizen participation.
The report also suggests how Pakistan can leverage experiences of other countries to accelerate its digital government transformation.
It includes: develop a national digital government strategy, devise an action plan for implementation of road map, in place fundamental building blocks i.e digital identity, payment, data exchange platform, establish center of excellence for data and advanced analytics, develop common governance framework i.e portfolio, programme and project assurance framework, digital information management, IT spend control, procurement, data and technology standards, shared and common systems, platforms, applications and digital infrastructure and centralised cross-government IT support.
It further suggests to revisit current telecom policies and plans, develop public-private partnerships, offer a flexible regulatory regime to investors and businesses in telecom services, encourage innovative practices, work towards data driven policy and decision making and provide public access facilities to tackle accessibility related digital divide, develop lifelong digital learning education policy and a comprehensive forward looking national digital literacy strategy and plan to achieve 100 per cent digital literate nation, prioritise marginalised (women, rural population and older generation), launch digital literacy awareness campaign, launch a training programme for citizens to build digital literacy and improving skill of government employees, make digital service platforms, ensure cyber security and data protection for smooth functioning, devise clear legislations and robust standards on data privacy, security and cyber crime inline with global trends, adopt citizen centric approach, establish service design capabilities at federal and provincial levels and develop a consistent digital design system consisting of tools, methodologies, templates, branding elements, guides and principles.
It also suggests to establish digital service standard to maintain consistency and quality across services, transform organisational structure and mindset, develop forward looking national citizen participation and engagement strategy and plan, develop and launch effective user-friendly online participatory platforms and digital tools, incentivise citizens to increase their participation and develop a mechanism for measuring and showcasing the level of citizen participation and its impact.
Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2021