The countries with the best online services

United Nations

Denmark tops the 2020 edition of the United Nations E‑Government Survey.

Denmark, whose female prime minister Mette Frederiksen married filmmaker and photographer Bo Tengberg on Wednesday, has a highly competitive internet market which has led to the development of excellent service coverage throughout the country. Denmark’s rate of internet penetration is regarded as one of the highest in the world.

Denmark ranked 20th in the world for mobile speeds and 11th for fixed broadband speeds during June 2020, according to the Speedtest Global Index. South Korea had the fastest mobile speed and Singapore the best fixed broadband speed last month.

The 2020 ranking of the 193 United Nations Member States in terms of digital government – capturing the scope and quality of online services, status of telecommunication infrastructure and existing human capacity – is led by Denmark, South Korea, and Estonia, followed by Finland, Australia, Sweden, the UK, New Zealand, the US, the Netherlands, Singapore, Iceland, Norway and Japan.

Overall, 65% of United Nations Member States are at the high or very high level.

“The pandemic has renewed and anchored the role of digital government – both in its conventional delivery of digital services as well as new innovative efforts in managing the crisis,” said Liu Zhenmin, United Nations Under‑Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.

“In responding to the coronavirus pandemic, governments have put in place new tools, such as dedicated COVID-19 information portals, hackathons, e-services for supply of medical goods, virtual medical appointments, self-diagnosis apps and e-permits for curfews. Many countries were quick to deploy tracking and tracing apps, and apps for working and learning from home,” the United Nations said in a statement.

“Innovative digital government responses to COVID-19 include online dashboards in Canada and Australia to share information and track emergency responses. In China, chatbots are used to assess patients’ risk of being infected. A community engagement app in Estonia allowed local governments to directly interact with their constituents, including through sharing COVID-19 information, posting photos and videos and even organising virtual events. In Croatia, a “virtual doctor” is powered by artificial intelligence and developed by technology firms in cooperation with epidemiologists. In London, the use of cameras, sensors and AI algorithms, normally intended to control traffic, now measures distance between pedestrians to control social distance.”

The United Nations E-Government Survey examines countries’ strengths, challenges and opportunities, and informs policies and strategies. The 2020 edition found that progress has been made across all regions, even in the least developed countries. Over 22% of countries were promoted to higher levels of e-government development.

“While e-government rankings tend to correlate with the income level of a country, financial resources are not the only critical factor in advancing digital government,” added Liu Zhenmin. “A country’s political will, strategic leadership and commitment to advance digital services, can improve its comparative ranking.”

Yet, despite the gains and major investments in e-government by many countries, the digital divide persists.

The digital divide

As a development tool, the E-Government Survey examines countries’ strengths, challenges and opportunities, and informs policies and strategies. The 2020 edition found that progress has been made across all regions, even in the least developed countries. Over 22% of countries were promoted to higher levels of e-government development.

“While e-government rankings tend to correlate with the income level of a country, financial resources are not the only critical factor in advancing digital government,” added Liu Zhenmin. “A country’s political will, strategic leadership and commitment to advance digital services, can improve its comparative ranking.”

Among the least developed countries, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Cambodia have become leaders in digital government development, advancing from the middle to the high E-Government Development Index (EGDI) group in 2020. Mauritius, the Seychelles, and South Africa are leading the e-government ranking in Africa. Overall, 65% of Member States are at the high or very high EGDI level.

Yet, despite the gains and major investments in e-government by many countries, the digital divide persists. Seven out of eight countries with low scores are in Africa and belong to the least developed countries group. The regional average index scores for countries in Africa are almost one third lower (at 0.3914) than the world average EGDI of 0.60.

Alongside these trends, the COVID-19 pandemic has now not only reinvigorated the role of digital government in its conventional delivery of public services and in ensuring business continuity, it has also brought about innovative ways in managing the crisis, such as in contact tracing, e-health, online learning, and remote working.

Related posts