HomeChannelsFundamentalsThe top 10 digital governments – Denmark comes top, the US trails leading nations

The top 10 digital governments – Denmark comes top, the US trails leading nations

The United Nations (UN) has ranked its top 10 countries for digital governance, and placed Denmark top for provision of online services. Australia, South Korea, the United Kingdom and Sweden round out the top five.

The UN’s Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) collated data on 193 countries’ online services, digital infrastructure and citizens’ wellbeing to determine their score on the E-Government Development Index (EGDI). The index measures governments’ ability to deliver public services digitally, rating the e-government performance of countries relative to one another as opposed to being an absolute measurement.

Denmark jumped from ninth to first place in the biennial survey, thanks to its five-year digital strategy. The country, with just 5.7 million inhabitants, ranks well ahead of larger economies like the US, which finished just outside the top 10 in the 2018 review.

The survey notes the per capita income of a country, indicating economic capacity, has a strong influence on national e-government development. In 2018, Europe (0.7727) leads with the highest regional EGDI score, followed by the Americas (0.5898), Asia (0.5779), Oceania (0.4611) and Africa (0.3423). There has been no change in regional positions in the review since 2003.

The UN splits countries into ‘very high’, ‘medium’, and ‘low’ EGDI groups. Two thirds (67 per cent) of countries in the top bracket are from Europe, followed by Asia (20 per cent), the Americas (eight per cent) and Oceania (five per cent). No European country is in the middle or low EGDI-level groups.

The EGDI result is a weighted average of three normalised scores on the three most important dimensions of e-government: the scope and quality of online services (Online Service Index, OSI), the development status of telecommunication infrastructure (Telecommunication Infrastructure Index, TII), and the inherent human capital (Human Capital Index, HCI). The below table shows the top 20 nations; the top 10 are considered in brief below this.


Denmark has been implementing its digital strategy since the last survey, in 2016. The five-year programme sets a course for Danish public-sector digitisation, as well as public-private sector collaboration.

“This strategy is aimed at building the basis for a strong and secure digital Denmark. Denmark has also made digital government-citizen interactions mandatory without excluding those unable to use digital services,” says UNDESA.


Australia retains its second place from the last US e-government survey in 2016. UNDESA says the country leads the chart in human capital development and is in the top 10 in online services.

Its government is proactive, regularly updating its 2016 digital transformation roadmap with “snapshots of expected deliverables”.


The Republic of Korea remains in the third spot, as in 2016. The country performed well in online service and technology infrastructure, but its human capital development was relatively low compared to other top ranked countries, said UNDESA.

“The country facilitates convenient, efficient, and transparent government in enhancing citizens’ satisfaction and government productivity and is constantly improving to provide better government services to its citizens in the face of rapid technology changes.”


The United Kingdom slipped from first in 2016, as a consequence of a relative decrease in the ranking of its human capital and online service indices. The British Government is providing more integrated online services through its one-stop platform GOV.UK.

UNDESA said: “Its government transformation strategy, published in 2017, is setting the course for further e-government development through business transformation, growing the right people, culture and skills, building better tools, processes and governance for civil servants.”


Sweden stepped up one position from 2016. In 2017, the government outlined its new digital policy, detailing ow it will contribute to competitiveness, full employment, and economic, social and environmentally sustainable development.

“The strategy aims for Sweden to become the world leader in harnessing the opportunities of digital transformation. Sweden has high rates of mobile broadband take-up and its market is characterised by a rapidly growing consumer demand for fast broadband,” it said.


Finland’s ‘national knowledge society strategy’ has focuses on the provision of multi-channel, interactive e-services together with interoperability of information systems in the public administration.

“Digitalisation is a cross-cutting theme in the Government strategy,” said UNDESA. “Principles for client-oriented public services are being drawn up and the public sector is being encouraged to commit to automation and the digitalisation of their practices.”


Singapore fells three places to the seventh, compared with the EGDI 2016 survey. It ranks second in online service delivery index together with US, behind Denmark, but dropped a few positions due to its human capital index.

The government has had an e-government plan since the 1980s. Its ‘smart nation’ programme was unveiled in 2014, with digital governance as a central plank. “Singapore has been embracing e-government as a whole-of-government approach in its national development strategy,” said UNDESA.


New Zealand scores well in both online services and human capital. Alongside its ICT strategy, the government has established a ‘digital economy work programme’.

“The government is supporting the growth of the digital sector, the uptake of ICT across its economy, and citizens’ secure use of digital technologies to support their development, access jobs, run businesses, and
trade goods,” said UNDESA.


Francewas up one place on 2016, with the government’s objective to take all services online by 2022. France launched its ‘public action 2022’ programme last year, among to simplify and digitise administrative processes.

The government has also launched a development programme to build a common foundation of applications, digital bricks, repositories and shared frameworks to accelerate digital transformation.

10 | JAPAN

Japan moved up from eleventh in 2016. It scored highly in technology infrastructure and online service. Japan has stated a ‘digital government strategy’ and a plan for utilising public and private sector data.

“One of the three pillars of its digital strategy is a platform for public-private partnerships to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all,” said UNDESA.

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  1. […] more successful than others at different stages of the digital transformation journey. A review by Enterprise Insights places Denmark at the top of the leader-board for the most effective digitization of government […]