Un E-Government Survey: Global digitalisation is on the rise but still room for improvement

Published on October 06, 2022

The 12th edition of the UN E-Government Survey, published by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), finds that while almost every country is engaged in the process of digitalisation, there are still plenty of opportunities to promote e-government.

The report found that ordinary people’s online participation has increased, and policymakers are increasingly taking part in social media discussions. 

While almost every country is engaged in digitalisation, many continue to face significant challenges in closing the digital divide.

This edition also looks at how organisations use e-government solutions to better serve their customers and interact with public agencies.

“The Future of Digital Government”

The theme of this edition of the Survey is “The Future of Digital Government”. 

It looks at how digital government can facilitate integrated policies and services across 193 UN Member States. 

Since its inception in 2001, the Survey has become an indispensable ranking and measuring development tool for digital policymakers and analysts.

It tracks the progress of e-government development via the EGDI. 

This index assesses e-government development at the national

level and is based on the weighted average of three normalised indices:

  • The Telecommunications Infrastructure Index (TII),
  • The Human Capital Index (HCI), 
  • The Online Service Index (OSI)

It also includes two supplementary indexes, which have both been improved in this edition:

  • The E-Participation Index (EPI) – focuses on the government’s use of online services through “e-information sharing”, “e-consultation”, and “e-decision-making.” 
  • The Local Online Services Index (LOSI) – focuses on assessing progress made in local e-governments through the e-government portals.

The global EGDI value has increased overall

The global average EGDI value has risen from 59% in 2020 to 61% in 2022, mainly because of the progress made in telecommunications infrastructure.

Europe remains the leader in e-government development, followed by Asia, the Americas, Oceania and Africa. 

According to the Survey, the average EDGI value for Oceania has declined for the first time since 2016, largely due to the region’s drop in the average Telecommunications Infrastructure Index (TII) value over the past two years. 

While the global EGDI average has increased, progress has been uneven, the study finds.

Belize, Côte d’Ivoire, Lebanon, Guyana, Nepal, Tajikistan, Rwanda, and Zambia – moved to the high EGDI group for the first time.

Meanwhile, those countries with the lowest EGDI rankings are all in special and developing situations.

However, many countries have strengthened their institutional and legal frameworks for e-government development. 

Most already have a national electronic or digital government strategy, legislation on cybersecurity, data protection, data policy, open government data, and e-participation. 

Leading the 2022 digital government ranking

The 2022 edition of the Survey shows that three countries lead the 2022 digital government ranking of the 193 UN member states.

Denmark, Finland and South Korea scored the highest on all indicators.

Runners-up are New Zealand, Iceland, Sweden, Australia, Estonia, the Netherlands, the USA, Britain, Singapore, the UAE, Japan and Malta.

Surprisingly, the UK has dropped below the top 10 positions for the first time in the history of the survey and index.

In these countries, citizens are increasingly able to interact with public institutions through online platforms and easily access public content and data. 

The Survey indicates that a growing number of countries are moving toward a seamless, invisible government.

This means that fully automated and personalised services are made accessible to different citizens. 

Moreover, governments are deploying cutting-edge technologies such as cloud computing, AI and blockchain to assess and address constituents’ needs.

However, while some countries have shown great progress, Haiti, Guinea-Bissau, Sudan and Eritrea are among the poorest performers in e-government.

Most e-services are not designed to facilitate inclusion 

Significant advances have indeed been made in e-government over the past two decades, but the inclusive design has not received sufficient attention. 

The groups easiest to reach have benefited most from the notable progress in e-government.

However, marginalised groups such as the poorest and most vulnerable populations have been left behind. 

The Survey emphasises the importance of “leaving no one behind in the hybrid digital society.”

Those e-services not designed to facilitate inclusion will likely deny some citizens the rights and opportunities enjoyed by more advantaged populations.

This should be a great focus for all governments moving forward to develop a responsive e-government.




About the Author

Mohammad J Sear is focused on bringing purpose to digital in government.

He has obtained his leadership training from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, USA and holds an MBA from the University of Leicester, UK.

After a successful 12+ years career in the UK government during the premiership of three Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Tony Blair, Mohammad moved to the private sector and has now for 20+ years been advising government organizations in the UK, Middle East, Australasia and South Asia on strategic challenges and digital transformation.

He is currently working for Ernst & Young (EY) and leading the Digital Government practice efforts across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and is also a Digital Government and Innovation lecturer at the Paris School of International Affairs, Sciences Po, France.

As a thought-leader some of the articles he has authored include: “Digital is great but exclusion isn’t – make data work for driving better digital inclusion” published in Harvard Business Review, “Holistic Digital Government” published in the MIT Technology Review, “Want To Make Citizens Happy – Put Experience First” published in Forbes Middle East.

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