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Source: http://www.futuregov.asia/articles/2013/jul/10/moldova-builds-e-government-mobile-digital-signatu/
Source Date: Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Focus: Institution and HR Management
Country: Moldova
Created: Jul 11, 2013

Conversations about e-government excellence and best practices usually centre around countries such as Singapore, South Korea, Finland, or the USA. In Eastern Europe, however, the tiny, land-locked Republic of Moldova is making a name for itself in this field. One of the poorest countries in Europe, Moldova (population 3.5 million) is emerging as a great example of public sector modernisation.

The e-Government Centre (eGC), formed in August 2010, is responsible for the implementation of the e-government agenda of Moldova. FutureGov spoke to several senior officials in the eGC to understand the development and implementation of the major projects underway in Moldova.

“Moldova has learned from Singapore, Estonia, Austria, the United Kingdom, and lately, New Zealand and Australia”, says Stela Mocan, Executive Director of the e-Government Centre. “We don’t have much legacy infrastructure or services in place, so we have the opportunity to implement the most innovative initiatives in Moldova”.

The eGC is implementing the ‘Strategic Program for Governance Technological Modernisation’, Moldova’s first government technology strategy. “The strategy has two objectives”, says Mocan. “The first is to digitise and put online all public services by 2020, and the second is to use technology within the government to become more efficient”.

The government is deploying various services to achieve these objectives while building a strong foundation to enable e-services. Mocan discussed the development of the mobile digital signature (MDS) in Moldova to allow citizens to securely access new and old online services.

The digital signature works as identification in the virtual world, allowing users to authenticate themselves in cyberspace by receiving a confirmation message on their cell phone that they can validate with a PIN. Citizens can sign papers, reports, or formal declarations, and submit online requests through their mobile phone.

Services such as e-licensing and tax declaration already accept MDS – businesses can apply for licenses such as social or medical insurance licenses online with authentication through MDS. Citizens can file taxes online using their MDS. “In the upcoming months, we will launch many more services for both citizens and businesses that will integrate with MDS”, declares Mocan.

“We want to make it easier for citizens and businesses to use electronic services”, Mocan continues. “The mobile digital signature is very easy to use, and since its launch last September, has been free to use to facilitate quick uptake. We are working with two mobile operators, which together control 98 per cent of Moldova’s mobile market, to implement this project”.

The public-private partnership model has worked well for eGC. The mobile operators conduct advocacy campaigns to inform citizens about MDS, and undertake citizen registration for MDS. The government, on the other hand, is integrating the existing electronic services with the mobile signature to allow citizens and businesses to use it to access as many services as possible.

While MDS is free to use for now, a nominal fee will be imposed after July 2013 – 10 lei (US$0.8) for 10 signatures per month for individuals, and 50 lei (US$3.9) for 1000 signatures per month for businesses.

Mocan also mentioned that the MDS project was an upgrade of an existing digital signature project that the eGC had in place earlier. “Since 2006, the government has had the option of using digital signatures through special chips in laptops”, she says. “That method, however, was very expensive for citizens, as each chip cost 300 lei (US$30). The mobile signature has the same legal power and capability, but is portable and much cheaper.

Developing a mobile signature also made sense for Moldova since the mobile penetration rate in the country is 127 per cent. “The penetration rate of mobile internet is increasing too – it’s currently at 30 per cent”, Mocan informs us. “One in two Moldovans have access to internet. We are among the top 20 countries in the world in terms of internet speed. These factors enable and push us to look for the most innovative technologies to change the way government works and interacts with citizens”.

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