Cambodia: WB upgrades Kingdom to Grade B in gov’t tech index

Cambodia’s level of development of government technology measured by the GovTech Maturity Index (GTMI) has been upgraded by the World Bank (WB) to Grade B from C for 2022.

Cambodia has received 0.584 point for GTMI, which is better than the regional and global average points — 0.505 and 0.552 respectively, according to the latest data of WB. The GTMI was developed as part of the GovTech Initiative to introduce a measure of maturity in the sector and to assist practitioners in the design of new digital transformation projects.

The index featuring 198 economies is the most comprehensive measure of digital transformation in the public sector but it is not intended to create a ranking or assess a country’s readiness for or performance of GovTech. It is rather intended to complement existing tools and diagnostics by providing a baseline and benchmark for GovTech maturity and identifying areas for improvement.

The 2022 version of the GTMI is the simple average of the normalized scores of four components that include firstly Core Government Systems Index (CGSI) which consists of seventeen indicators to capture the key aspects of the whole-of-government approach, including government cloud, interoperability framework and other platforms.

Secondly, the Public Service Delivery Index (PSDI) that consists of nine indicators to measure the maturity of online public service portals, with a focus on citizen-centric design and universal accessibility. Thirdly, the Digital Citizen Engagement Index (DCEI) composing of six indicators measuring aspects of public participation platforms, citizen feedback mechanisms, open data, and open government portals.

Lastly, the GovTech Enablers Index (GTEI) has sixteen indicators to capture strategy, institutions, laws, and regulations, as well as digital skills, and innovation policies and programmes, to foster GovTech.

Uematsu Hiroshi, CEO of Royal Group Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone (Royal Group PPSEZ), said despite remarkable digital development, Japanese investors in Cambodia have actually been facing three main challenges — customs clearance, restructuring company management and construction permits.

“In terms of business registration, it is fine as we can register companies online, but when we need
to change members of boards of directors, we are required to have in-person signatures by concerned persons. So, that is still done by analogue. I myself work at the special economic zone and when I need to work on construction, I have affixed my thumbprints over one thousand
times,” Hiroshi said.

In Channy, President & Group Managing Director of Acleda Bank Plc, said that the issue regarding the efficiency of customs clearances can be raised in the Government-Private Sector Forum held twice a year by Prime Minister Hun Sen, but unfortunately, it has not been conducted since 2016.

“I think using hard copies and other forms takes a lot of time for investors and business leaders. So, we want the government to digitalize that. I think there is a big effort by the government towards this now,” Channy said, adding that Acleda Bank Plc has actively been involved in the digitalisation of the economy.

Regionally, countries that received Grade A include Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, while Cambodia, Vietnam, Brunei and the Philippines got Grade B. Laos got Grade C and Myanmar got Grade D.