Coronavirus emphasises the necessity of e-services
Digital transformation experts of the Estonian-based consultancy organisation e-Governance Academy have encouraged countries to facilitate e-governance and public e-services for more than 17 years. To date, the main arguments to develop public e-services were the hassle-free, transparent and more efficient governance to save time and money. The current Corona pandemic added one more argument: e-governance and e-services can save people’s health and possibly their lives.
Queues and appointments at government agencies, banks, and other places will contribute to the spread of the coronavirus. Hence, states and businesses are now limiting the work of institutions to minimize face-to-face contacts and both people and businesses suffer where it is impossible to resolve a particular issue remotely.
Forced self-isolation of millions of people has dramatically increased the value of public e-services: from getting information and submitting applications to solving business or personal issues that involve interaction with government agencies. Estonia with 99% of its government services online is a rare exception as most of the governments offer public services offline.
eGA facilitates e-services delivery in Benin and Ukraine
In light of the coronavirus outbreak, recent developments in Benin (West Africa) and Ukraine are generating hope that these countries will not waste the lessons of the pandemic and will accelerate their public service delivery via the Internet, according to Arvo Ott, Executive Director of eGA.
Arvo Ott and IT Minister of Benin to sign the MOU for secure data exchange development.
“The coronavirus outbreak proves to governments in a very radical way the necessity of digital transformation and public e-services,” said Ott. “In Benin and Ukraine, a proper basis for public e-service development has been created by allowing secure data exchange between government databases. Both countries have implemented the interoperability platform of Estonian origin, X-road, in collaboration with the e-Governance Academy, the Estonian IT company Cybernetica and local partners,” added Ott.
Ukraine: Trembita makes data run
In Ukraine, eGA with Cybernetica and local partners launched the secure data exchange Trembita system in 2018. According to eGA’s Mari Pedak, Team Leader of the project in Ukraine, the secure data exchange platform is the backbone for public e-service development and the government initiative “State in the Smartphone”.
“To date, 2000 electronic interactions between public authorities are made daily through the Trembita system and some 50 government institutions have shown willingness to connect their databases to the system,“ said Pedak.
Trembita connects various government institutions for public service provision online and fully automised.
For a regular Ukrainian citizen, it means that public authorities can optimize their work and reduce the number of paper certificates required from citizens. According to Pedak, one of the first e-services, the ‘eBaby’, gathers data from seven government databases and makes registration of a newborn remote and submission of parental benefits more hassle-free.
For this purpose, the parents of a newborn do not have to pay separate visits to the institutions of the Ministry of Justice, State Migration Service, State Tax Service, and Ministry of Social Policy. Although important also in normal circumstances, this is especially relevant in the current crisis situation.
Benin: first steps towards e-services
In Benin, the secure data exchange platform works as a basis for the brand-new national e-service portal. Accessible at www.service-public.bj, the portal is a single point of entry to all public services, available 24/7.
According to Tõnis Mäe, Programme Director at the e-Governance Academy, public e-service provision is making its first steps in Benin but the government has understood the urgent need of offering services online. “The development of the portal is part of the modernisation of public administration in Benin and helps reduce face-to-face contacts between officials and citizens,” said Mäe.
The portal currently provides information about more than 250 public services offered by public authorities in Benin. Starting with some public services in electronic form, the number of e-services will increase during the year. The portal development is led by the Information Systems and Services Agency of Benin and the e-Governance Academy, with technological development by Cybernetica and Open SI.
To date, e-Governance Academy has delivered Estonian e-governance know-how to 130 countries and regions and more than 200 organisations around the world. This year, 20 projects on different digital transformation issues, including e-service development, are running all over the world.