On Assessment of Belarus' Digital Readiness

Armen Martirosyan, the UNDP's Resident Representative a.i. in Belarus, addressed the participants of the International ICT Forum TIBO 2024.

June 6, 2024
Photo: UNDP in Belarus

Translation from the Russian language. 

Dear Anna Nikolaevna

Dear Forum participants, 

Digital technologies have expanded peoples’ intellectual, physiological and biological capabilities – endlessly expanding their ability to do good and evil.

Understanding the complex changes that dictate future development trends is the urgent challenge of modern society. 

Today, it is important for us to recognize the future that has already arrived.

And the TIBO is the platform that allows us not only to look into the future, but also to actively shape it.

Dear colleagues,

Over the past decades, digitalization has helped humanity achieve significant success, becoming a powerful accelerator of sustainable development. However, our achievements are vulnerable, and digital transformation carries inherent risks.

For example:

  • Disparities in access to technology are increasing.
  • Data privacy is being breached.
  • Cybersecurity threats are on the rise.
  • Technological dependence is growing.

In 2023, AI-powered misinformation has become the world's biggest short-term threat, recognized by the business community. 

Additionally, cloud technology has left a larger carbon footprint than the airline industry.

We need approaches that regulate the use of technology with inclusiveness, security and reliability in mind. 

Since 2022, UNDP has been implementing a global Digital Strategy aimed at:

  • lifting 100 million people out of multidimensional poverty;
  • providing 500 million people with access to clean energy;
  • mobilizing over $1 trillion investments to achieve the SDGs. 

Digitalization plays an important role in human development. 

Every two years, UNDP publishes a global human development index - taking into account parameters such as: 

  • Life expectancy at birth. 
  • Education.
  • Standard of living.

In 2023, Belarus ranked 69th out of 193 countries and territories, placing it in the group of countries with "very high levels of human development." Much of this progress has been driven by advancements in digital technology:

  • Last year, Belarus ranked 22nd in terms of "Access to Information and Communication Technologies" in the Global Innovation Index.
  • 89% of citizens use the internet.
  • The country is implementing a national project, "Smart Cities of Belarus," which enhances the comfort and safety of the population.

In accordance with the UNDP Country Program for 2021-2025, we have been collaborating with ministries and departments to develop new digital solutions in various areas, such as:

  • Improving access to services for vulnerable populations, including refugees and migrants.
  • Increasing access for SMEs to expertise and knowledge.
  • Utilizing data analysis to implement the Nationally Determined Contribution to reduce emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

The implementation of the current state program, "Digital Development of Belarus," is nearing completion.

This year and next will be crucial for shaping the country's national vision for digital development over the next five years. 

Therefore, UNDP and the Ministry of Communications and Informatization are assessing the country's digital readiness. This assessment aims to determine the current state of digital development and identify trends and prospects. The results will provide recommendations for the Digital Development Strategy of Belarus for 2026-2030.

The evaluation methodology was developed by the UNDP General Digital Office and has already been successfully applied in more than 35 countries, including Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Armenia and Moldova. It is now being used in Turkmenistan.

The evaluation covers five areas of digital transformation: 

  • communication,
  • management,
  • regulation,
  • business,
  • and people.

A unique aspect of the assessment in Belarus is its focus on the use of artificial intelligence in three areas:

  • the state as a user, 
  • the state as a regulator of artificial intelligence, 
  • and ethical principles for the use of these technologies.

As part of the assessment, a survey of representatives from the public administration system, business, and the academic community will be conducted. 

I invite you to fill out the questionnaire using the QR code displayed on the slide.

Dear participants,

Never before in history have we had access to such financial mechanisms, outstanding technologies, and our greatest asset: human ingenuity and the potential for cooperation. 

We need not just to adapt but to actively shape the digital future, utilizing all available resources, innovations, and partnerships.

Thank you for your attention.