Information and communication technologies (ICT) have tremendous potential to enhance the lives of people in general and, particularly, those in developing countries. For about a decade, use of technology in governance has introduced a new paradigm of service delivery.During the recent years Digital Governance has emerged as an effective tool and process of participation, accountability and inclusive governance aiming to install a system “whole of governance” in the developing countries. It has also begun to change existing state society relations and strengthened and institutionalized the concept of “whole of governance“in those countries. This leads to better service delivery, motivating people to participate in governance processes, ensuring efficiency, accountability and transparency. In a globalised world, it is now recognized as a tool for transforming the relations between citizens, businesses, and other organs of government
Digital Governance ensures that citizens can participate in, and influence decision-making processes which affect them and pro-actively decide what they want and its quality as well governance processes which can best deliver them. Faster expanding computerisation and internet connectivity has attracted governments in the region to re-engineering of business processes for quicker and quality service delivery to citizens, business and the society.
The ongoing Digital Governance process is also considered appropriate for achieving the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As countries in the region are focusing on achieving 2030 SDGs, Digital Governance has become a crucial issue for the region in realization of these goals. However, countries may vary in efforts due to geo-political and market realities, socio-economic contexts, lack of resources, capacity gaps, etc.
Digital Governance is thus creating a paradigm shift in the public sector as well as transforming societies across the world. While the state remains the key actor, the other actors also need to participate and network amongst themselves to enable the society reap full benefits of technological as well as innovations. South East Asia is emerging as the champion of this digital transformation of governments and societies where countries are outpacing rest of the world. While it opens up avenues for development of societies and ensuring better service to citizens, it also creates challenges for many governments as well as private sector and citizens.
Countries of South East Asia are at the forefront of digital developments in fields of governance, entertainment, and e-commerce. Singapore, South Korea and China are leaders in the area of Digital Governance in the region. In the context of South Asia, India and Bangladesh have taken initiatives to utilize ICT to deliver better services to the people. However, the nature of digital transformation and meaningfully incorporating it into policy domains of nations has therefore emerged as one of the core concerns for development management and governance. In South and South East Asia we stand at the cross roads of historic opportunity,with nations in the region overtaking developed ones in economic arena. Nations of the region need to grasp this opportunity and recast the role of governments, empowering citizens and enabling other non-state actors in enhancing the quality of governance and service delivery.
However, are all countries in the region taking advantage of Digital Governance? Do nations have same experiences, capacities and resources to make it work? Can they learn from experiences of other countries? What are the barriers? What works and what doesn’t and why? Does the public and private sector have different views and utilize Digital Governance differently? Or is there is convergence? Will Digital Governance enable nations and their citizens to reach desired goals and transform their lives? Is Digital Governance changing state society relations? These questions need answers and sharing of views and experiences.
In this context, the South Asian Institute of Policy and Governance of North South University, Bangladesh in collaboration with University of Bergen, Norway and Information and Communication Technology Division, Government of People’s Republic of Bangladesh is arranging a Conference on 20-21 June 2020 in Dhaka on ‘Digital Governance in South and South East Asia: Lessons, Challenges and Opportunities. The major aim of the Conference is to bring together academics, practitioners, Government agencies, civil society members of the region to share knowledge, experiences, and learning in context of Digital Governance in the region with the aim to capitalize on the use of digital technology in ensuring quality of service delivery and streamlining the overall governance processes.