Laos Behind Other ASEAN Nations in Digital Maturity

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Laos behind other ASEAN nations in digital maturity

Laos ranks ninth out of the ten ASEAN countries in terms of digital access, affordability, and quality of internet services, according to a new UNDP report.

To support the Government of Laos in understanding how digital interventions can continue to improve operational efficiency and user satisfaction, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has joined hands with the Ministry of Technology and Communications (MTC) to develop the Lao PDR Digital Maturity Assessment (DMA).

An official launching ceremony for the DMA report was held on Wednesday, chaired by Mr. Santisouk Simmalavong, Deputy Minister of MTC, and co-chaired by Ms. Ricarda Rieger, UNDP Resident Representative in Vientiane Capital.

The DMA is a strategic tool for assessing the digital readiness of systems, services, and digital capacities to develop an innovative, open, agile, and accessible digital government, through the focused implementation of identified digital/information and communications technology (ICT) pilot projects.

Mr. Santisouk Simmalavong, Deputy Minister of MTC, and Ms. Ricarda Rieger, UNDP Resident Representative in Vientiane Capital attend the Digital Maturity Assessment launch.
Mr. Santisouk Simmalavong, Deputy Minister of MTC, and Ms. Ricarda Rieger, UNDP Resident Representative in Vientiane Capital, attend the Digital Maturity Assessment launch.

“As technology has rapidly developed, it is undeniable that we become a part of it. It helps to smooth out work and ease daily life. Technology increased effectiveness [for our government] at both central and provincial levels during the pandemic of the covid-19,” remarked Deputy Minister Santisouk.

“Given the importance of technology, the Government of Laos has encouraged this digital readiness assessment as a base for a digital development plan in order to align with the regional and global level.  Together with UNDP, this project is a part of the government’s priority plan that started operating in 2021,” he said.

The DMA framework is designed to help governments worldwide in assessing their readiness to undertake digital transformation. It evaluates the current potential for digital government development across six key pillars, including Technology and Solutions; Policy and Regulations; Skills and Capacity Building; User Centricity; Service Definition and Delivery; and Institutional Framework and Collaboration.

“We now know the current status of digitalization in government and need to use this as a base to help prioritize actions in support of the National Digital Economy Vision 2021 – 2040. As part of our commitment to leave no one behind, UNDP is engaging with these issues. While the government remains our main partner, we also engage with users and developers,” remarked Ms. Rieger.

“The government could tap into the energy and creativity of young people to leapfrog and break barriers between authority and users.” She added.

Upon the completion of the DMA launch, field trips to provinces will be conducted in order to disseminate the findings and discuss options for a master plan.

UNDP will continue to collaborate and provide capacity building to MTC officials and establish a digitalized, modern system focusing on efficiency, effectiveness, and user-centricity.