02.10.2023 - Technology

Latvia scores highly for digitalisation of public services

The European Commission has published its first Report on the State of the Digital Decade with a call to act together to improve digital transformation. The report includes 2023 supplements on the progress made by the European Union (EU) member states, including Latvia, towards reaching the digital goals for 2023 set by the EU, as well as recommendations for member states on how to reach them.

The Report on the State of the Digital Decade finds that Latvia’s achievements in the digital public services realm have advanced progress towards digital decade goals. In terms of digitalisation of public services, Latvia is one of the leading member states. In all indicators for this field, Latvia is above the average EU level and is proficient at acquiring and providing innovative digital public services.

77% of Latvian internet users access public services digitally, which is higher than the EU average of 74%. Latvia also outpaces the EU average regarding the main aspects of online service provision, as well as in access to e-health statements. Government services for individuals are 87% accessible digitally (compared with an EU average of 77%), while services for businesses are 86% accessible (EU average: 84%).

Room to improve digital infrastructure

According to the report, Latvia has room to improve its digital infrastructure. In terms of connectivity, Latvia has high figures in terms of fixed very-high-capacity network coverage, which has a positive impact on reaching digital decade goals on connectivity, but its 5G coverage figures are lower than the EU average.

Latvia’s achievements in the business digitalisation field show significant opportunities for improvement. In 2022, 52% of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) had reached at least a basic level of digital intensity, which is lower than the EU average of 69%, with just 9% of businesses using big data and just 4% using artificial intelligence (AI), which are significantly lower than EU averages.

Additionally, the proportion of Latvian businesses using cloud services in 2021 (22%) was below the EU average (34%). In the coming years, there is significant work to do to reach a level of 90% of SMEs reaching the base level of digital intensity, as well as a level of 75% of businesses using big data, cloud services or AI by 2030.

Basic and advanced digital skills in Latvia are approaching the EU average. 51% of inhabitants aged between 16 and 74 have at least basic digital skills, and 24% exceed the base level. This is compared with EU levels of 54% and 26% respectively. 4.4% of the Latvian workforce are ICT specialists, swiftly approaching the EU average of ICT specialists, which is 4.6%. The European Commission positively rates the measures Latvia has initiated and implemented for increasing digital skills in the education system and for the population as a whole. Latvia also has a good balance for female involvement in ICT: 22.8% of ICT specialists are women, placing Latvia in the top 10 member states for gender balance.

Gatis Ozols, Deputy State Secretary on Digital Transformation Affairs at the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development (VARAM): “The report published by the European Commission shows that Latvia is heading in the right direction when it comes to digital transformation. The satisfaction with our digitalisation of public services is a credit to the work of government institutions and VARAM. Digital transformation is primarily for the benefit of the public, which is why it is so crucial for us to ensure access and efficient operation of these services.

“Of course, there are areas in which Latvia has to work with partners in the private, non-governmental and academic sectors to ensure that society and businesses move with the times. The next step is to work with our partners to implement our ambitious planned measures to improve the digital skills of the public, digitalise the commercial sector, and build an infrastructure of the future.”

The EU has set joint goals to be met by 2030. For example, at least 80% of inhabitants must have digital skills, and the proportion of ICT employees must reach 10% in the EU overall. Meanwhile, 5G coverage and fixed very-high-capacity network coverage must reach all inhabited areas. In terms of business digitalisation, at least 90% of SMEs must reach a basic digital intensity level, and at least 75% of businesses should use AI, cloud computing and big data. By 2030, EU member states have to ensure access to all main public services for individuals and business owners, as well as secure identification tools and electronic health cards.

Source: Press release
Photo: Shutterstock

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