ITU, Estonia, Germany and DIAL join forces to accelerate digital transformation of government services

Partnership will establish a global framework to assist low-income countries in implementing scalable digital services and applications.

Geneva, 27 October 2020

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Estonia (MFA Estonia), the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of the Federal Republic of Germany (BMZ), and the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL) at the United Nations Foundation, have signed a joint declaration to accelerate digital transformation and digitalization of government services, particularly in low-resource settings.

The partnership will establish a framework for digital cooperation among governments to assist countries in implementing scalable digital services and applications in a cost efficient, accelerated, and integrated manner.

The aim is to scale the framework to global level for all ITU Member States to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as to facilitate the development of transformative and paperless citizen-centric services that are accessible and available to all members of society.

“In the last few months, digital transformation has accelerated at an unprecedented speed and scale, and governments are on the frontline,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “This new partnership between ITU, Estonia, Germany and DIAL is an important step in advancing digital government services, in particular in low-income countries, in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”

One of the main goals of the partnership is to implement a reference digital government platform, called the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Digital Platform, as a digital public good based on reusable, standards-driven, secure and interoperable building blocks in line with the whole-of-government approach to building and deploying digital services and applications.

Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau said: “Successful digital transformation efforts require cooperation across all actors. ITU welcomes the opportunity to work with Estonia, Germany and DIAL to continue to advance ICT-related solutions that can power country-level action to achieve the SDGs.”

Furthermore, the partnership aims at facilitating fundraising to support relevant and interested stakeholders who can contribute to deploying and scaling up digital services by building shared digital infrastructures that will power future innovations centred around citizen needs.

“This collaboration will truly power digital transformation and give governments the chance to build and deploy their digital services and applications in a cost efficient, accelerated and integrated manner,” explained Norbert Barthle, Parliamentary State Secretary to the German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). “Particularly governments in low-resource settings that have not yet digitized their services will now have the freedom to make decisions based on the state of technology as it is today – cloud, microservices and artificial intelligence – without being held back by legacy solutions of past decades.”

Other goals of the partnership include contributing to the work of the international community to power digital transformation by sharing expertise, guidelines, best practices and case studies on relevant topics, and undertaking joint actions, such as thematic meetings, capacity building workshops, and knowledge sharing and exchanges.

Raul Siem, Minister of Foreign Trade and Information Technology​ of Estonia, noted his country’s openness to sharing expertise in digital transformation: “Estonia has a long experience in building a holistic digital society, from the technological standpoint to putting in place proper legislation. Our digital ecosystem relies on strong public-private partnerships which, among other things, is something we are also keen on sharing within this partnership and working towards the Sustainable Development Goals.”

“One of DIAL’s main objectives is to connect, scale and support proven solutions that are necessary for digital transformation to be successful,” said Kate Wilson, CEO of DIAL. “This partnership will support our efforts to do that, expand our existing work with ITU, including the Digital Investment Framework, and learn from both Estonia and Germany to help other countries on their digital transformation journey.” The partnership and the establishment of the Sustainable Development Goals Digital Platform will be implemented within the framework of the ITU Regional Initiatives for Europe, a citizen-centric approach to building services for national administrations. ​