Online government services are improving, digital divides persist: UN survey

The United Nations: Despite numerous crises in the past two years, e-government strategies have advanced although many countries and municipalities have failed to provide adequate e-services, according to a new United Nations survey.

The 2022 edition of the e-government survey shows that Denmark, Finland and South Korea lead the 2022 digital government ranking of the 193 UN member states, achieving the highest scores regarding the extent and quality of online services, the state of telecommunications infrastructure and existing human capacity, Xinhua News Agency reported.

The finalists are New Zealand, Sweden, Iceland, Australia, Estonia, Netherlands, United States, United Kingdom, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Japan and Malta.

Thanks to remarkable improvements in telecommunications infrastructure and human capacity development, the global average of the E-Government Development Index (EGDI) has increased overall, with 68.9% of Member States scoring at high or very high EGDI.

Eight countries moved into the high FDI group for the first time: Belize, Côte d’Ivoire, Guyana, Lebanon, Nepal, Rwanda, Tajikistan and Zambia.

Although data shows a general increase in online services for vulnerable groups, digital divides remain. All of the lowest-ranked countries by the IDEG are those in special and developing situations.

Haiti, Guinea-Bissau, Sudan and Eritrea are among the worst performers in e-government, according to survey results.

“The survey results underscore that governments have remained focused on developing digital services and infrastructure despite the global challenges of recent years. Achieving our vision of leaving no one behind will compel us to leave no one offline in the hybrid digital future,” said Li Junhua, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.

The survey was conducted by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).

UN DESA Under-Secretary-General Maria-Francesca Spatolisano said, “Successful digital governments are moving from ubiquitous presence in people’s lives to near invisibility. At the same time, they offer trusted automated services that can be accessed anytime from anywhere at people’s convenience, with respect for privacy and the protection of personal data.

The 2022 survey calls on governments to strategize and invest more in long-term national digital transformation plans. Meaningful connectivity must be guaranteed for all to prepare for future crises and shocks. Advances in e-government and technology must ultimately serve the larger goal of supporting sustainable human development.

Ashley C. Reynolds