At Asia Tech Singapore 2022, HE Bolor-Erdene Battsengel, State Secretary, Ministry of Digital Development and Communications, Mongolia, took to the stage to share her views on the changing roles of women in tech with fellow guest panellists. Telecom Review Asia Pacific used the opportunity to connect with the first state secretary of the newly established Ministry of Digital Development and Communications to learn about Mongolia’s digital ambitions and progress.
Digital governance is a key agenda for many countries. What have been some initiatives rolled out?
Mongolia aims to build a digital nation. In this context, a number of basic system and structural changes have been made. For example, to accelerate digital transformation, the former agency named Communication and Information Technology Authority was reorganized this year into the Ministry of Digital Development and Communications. E-Mongolia platform has successfully launched an integrated e-government system. The E-Mongolia academy has also been established to further develop, improve and maintain the E-Mongolia System. The fundamental laws of digital governance, such as the Law on Public Information, the Law on Digital Signatures, the Law on the Personal Data Protection, and the Law on Cyber Security, have also been approved by the Parliament of Mongolia.
Mongolia implemented the e-Mongolia platform a couple of years ago to digitalize public services. Can you tell us about the progress of this initiative and how this has impacted the lives of Mongolians?
We first introduced the E-Mongolia system on 1 October 2020. The main achievement is that today, it has become a large system that includes 656 services from 61 government organizations. In total, more than 12 million services have been provided online through this system. The system currently has 1.3 million users. That means one-third of the adult population uses the E-Mongolia platform. A total of 656 most demanded public services can be obtained from this system, from applying for a driver's license to applying for a passport. Features such as offering services based on customer behavior have recently been added.
Mongolia is a vast and one of the least densely populated countries in the world. Can you tell us how this has been a challenge for 5G adoption and what is the 5G journey like so far?
Our country has approved a policy to introduce 5G networks in 2020. In 2021, 5G pilot tests were successfully conducted twice. This year, the Ministry of Digital Development and Communications and the Communications Regulatory Commission are preparing the spectrum management for the introduction of 5G in Mongolia. In addition, mobile operators are preparing to invest in 5G. It has also successfully completed a 5G readiness assessment with the support of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
Our country has a large territory and a sparsely populated region. This situation poses the biggest challenge when building a 5G network. In other words, the investment for establishing a 5G network will require a lot. In addition, 5G requires more robust fiber optic infrastructure. The next big challenge is a small, but highly competitive market. For instance, Mongolia has more than 3 million citizens served by 5 mobile operators.
What are some plans in the pipeline for the Ministry of Digital Development and Communications of Mongolia?
As I mentioned, our country aims to become a digital nation. The government has announced that information technology is one of the priorities of the economy. The Ministry of Development was implemented within the government, and the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Innovation and Digital Development was established. Our ministry has also approved a digital nation strategy. The strategy has six sub-objectives: digital infrastructure, e-governance, cybersecurity, digital literacy and inclusion, innovation and production, and national development accelerator.
As I have said before, we have passed laws to accelerate the nation’s digital development to a new level. Emphasis will be placed on the implementation of these laws and the approval of compliance regulations.