From Paper to Pixels – The Digital Transformation of Municipalities
May 10, 2023
The digital transformation of local self-governments in North Macedonia is one of the key challenges that will contribute to the more efficient and qualitative delivery of municipal services to citizens, as well as greater transparency and accountability in the work of the municipal authorities. This process, on the other hand, brings direct benefits to the local self-governments, through cost reduction and workflow automation. Challenges and opportunities for digitalization of municipalities was the main topic of today's conference “From Paper to Pixels: The Digital Transformation of Municipalities”.
“We are aware that the progress in this area is not uniform. Some institutions are ahead in using new technologies to advance their work. Due to the differences in the available resources, the differences in the progress are also present in the municipalities as well. That is why the strategic approach is important, i.e. providing the conditions and building an environment where all parts of the system will move forward and modernize. Only with a comprehensive approach will the fulfillment of the goal be ensured - that citizens in all parts of the country would benefit from digitalization", said Slavica Grkovska, Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Good Governance Policies.
Digitalization should take place in parallel at the central and local levels, because the citizen is basically not interested in who provides the service, but how easily and quickly it can be provided, said the Minister of Local Self-Government Risto Penov.
"Digitalization of municipalities is necessary because the citizen wants accessible, fast and transparent services. We are now at a stage where we need a more systematic approach and instead of municipality-by-municipality approach, we need to apply the service-by-service approach. In that way, the service is uniform in all municipalities, and the costs for its provision can be shared by all municipalities through the procurement of shared equipment," said Penov.
Switzerland is one of the biggest supporters of democratization and decentralization in the country, processes in which digital transformation plays a significant role.
"The digitalization of services and processes are high on the Swiss governance agenda and sharing know-how and expertise is one of the cornerstones of the Swiss development cooperation efforts globally and
here in North Macedonia. Both dimensions, national and Swiss commitment, explain why digitalization is a priority of the Swiss development program in North Macedonia and a pillar of the Swiss supported project Empowering Municipal Council, which aims to strengthen the capacities of local self-governments in North Macedonia with a focus on local councils", said Veronique Ullmann, Ambassador of Switzerland to the Republic of North Macedonia.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), through its projects, supported the implementation of LOGES – the first e-services software, at the local level, in the country, which is already operational in 18 municipalities. In addition, UNDP is implementing innovative digital tools for greater transparency and accountability in the work of local self-governments, and also works on the development of a Macedonian model of an e-municipality.
"All these activities we are implementing are proof that digital transformation is not just about technology, but also about transparency and improving the quality of life of the citizens. The process of digitalization of municipalities cannot be successfully implemented without building partnerships between all parties involved, including citizens with their needs and expectations", said Armen Grigoryan, UNDP Resident Representative.
The conference was attended by representatives of state institutions, municipalities, the civil sector, the business sector, who shared their opinions on how the process of digital transformation of local self-governments in North Macedonia should continue.
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