The latest GovTech Maturity Index for 2022 has been released, highlighting the progress made by various economies. Notably, most countries have committed to a whole-of-government approach to digital transformation while a considerable amount has institutionalised it. However, the digital divide remains wide.
Since its inception, the GovTech Maturity Index (GTMI) has proven to be an excellent yardstick for assessing countries’ progress in digital transformation. The beauty of the index is that it’s not just a ranking system. Instead, it’s a tool that helps identify areas for improvement and sets a baseline for measuring progress. The 2022 GTMI report, which is the second edition, presents a comprehensive outlook of digital transformation in the public sector and offers valuable insights for strategic actions.
Like the first edition, the latest update categorises governments into four groups based on their GovTech involvement. The top-tier “A – Very High” group consists of GovTech leaders who excel in all four focus areas of the index, followed by the “B – High” group with significant investments and good practices in most areas. The “C – Medium” group has ongoing efforts to improve certain focus areas, while the “D – Low” group shows minimal focus on GovTech initiatives.
The report reveals that only 35% of all 198 countries assessed implement good practices in the key focus areas. The distribution among the different GTMI groups is as follows: 35% in Group A, 23% in Group B, 27% in Group C, and 15% in Group D. Meanwhile, there is a noticeable rise in the number of economies that enhanced their GovTech maturity in different groups. 136 economies (69%) maintained their position, while 26% or 52 economies improved by one level, and only 10 economies (5%) slid down. The GTMI data dashboard provides a detailed perspective on each country.
The average GTMI score is 0.552 out of 1, and in terms of the four indexes, the Public Service Delivery Index (PSDI) has the highest average score at 0.649. It is followed by the Core Government Systems Index (CGSI), with an average score of 0.575. The average scores for Digital Citizen Engagement Index (DCEI) and GovTech Enablers Index (GTEI) are lower, at 0.449 and 0.536, respectively.
Stay very high or move higher
Sure enough, Estonia remains in the Very High group, with other digital public services-leading countries like Australia, Denmark, and South Korea. In contrast, several others moved from Group B to A. The up-movers include Iceland, Oman, Tanzania, and Ukraine. Of course, the strength of Ukraine’s digital infrastructure can never be overemphasised, especially in light of its resilience in the face of the war.
Likewise, Tanzania’s upward trajectory in the last few years showcases a commitment to digital transformation, a reliable digital infrastructure, and a comprehensive digital policy. While Nkundwe N. Mwasaga, the Director General of the Information and Communication Technologies Commission (ICTC) of the United Republic of Tanzania, attended Tallinn Digital Submit 2022, he revealed the country’s approach to digital transformation.
He noted that Tanzania uses the ‘catch-up strategy,’ looking at specific countries and drawing from their repertoire to catch up and pivot faster. He identified that one of those countries is Estonia, and he also highlighted that they are trying to emulate how Estonia developed its human capital:
“We are looking at Estonia very strategically for areas such as digital strategy, digital identity, interoperability, and cyber security.”
Regional disparities persist, and income plays a role
The 2022 GMTI report highlights regional disparities in GovTech maturity, with economies in Europe and Central Asia, South Asia, Middle East and North Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean registering higher scores than those in Africa and East Asia and the Pacific. On average, Group A countries have the highest GTMI score, with a significant gap between them and those in Group D. In contrast, the average scores for upper-middle and lower-middle-income countries are pretty close.
Additionally, there is a marked disparity between the average scores of high-income and low-income countries. For instance, the report demonstrates that 65% of those in Group A are high-income countries while only 16% of the combination of lower-middle and low-income economies are represented there. On the other hand, about 40% of the lowest-performing economies are from low-income countries. This highlights the need to support the digital transformation needs of low-income countries in order to address the digital divide.
Some recommendations from the report
- High-level commitment and resource allocation are crucial for sustaining GovTech initiatives and addressing the digital divide;
- Citizen participation platforms can deepen relationships, improve accountability, and build trust in government;
- Investments in digital skills development and public sector innovation are crucial for a data-driven culture and strong technical skills;
- Frontier and disruptive technologies can improve government operations and online services once GovTech foundations are established;
- Measuring the performance and utilisation of digital platforms and monitoring the adoption of new policies can improve the visibility and impact of ongoing digital transformation.
While many economies have made progress in implementing digital government initiatives, the widening digital divide remains a significant challenge, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. To address this, governments must commit to strategic actions with goals in mind.
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of GovTech solutions, and investing in them can lead to a more efficient, citizen-centred public service network. By prioritising GovTech, governments can better deliver on COVID-19 pandemic recovery and resilience and adapt to the “new normal,” the report concludes.