The journey to defining Argentina’s digital agenda

“How can we work really, really fast in providing tools and providing connectivity for everybody?”

From the FWD50 2019 archives, we’re thrilled to share Argentina’s Secretary of Digital Government and Technological Innovation and Secretary of Modernization, María Inés Baqué, as she discusses the journey she took in creating a digital agenda for the country.

You can see María’s presentation slides here, and connect with Marìa on Linkedin.

Please see the full transcript of the talk below.

[00:00:00] María Inés Baqué: Good morning everybody. It’s my pleasure to be here with all of you that really are a great amount of people to share our experience in Argentina to define our digital agenda. So let me share with you just a brief idea of where Argentina was with this. When this administration at federal government began.

So in terms of the administration, all their administration was paper-based, paper based, face-to-face, no digital tools at the government municipalities. I know. So,  provincial government, this great career. To be public servant was something not very good in Argentina. In terms of the transparency, the Argentina, opened at the index, we were [00:01:00] in the 54th position in Argentina. 

Connectivity, no way. Poor connectivity, low quality. So the challenge was how can we work really, really fast. On providing tools and providing connectivity for everybody while we define the longterm  vision. So, ultimately the idea was to move from an idea of a government that has the citizen as a hostage almost to move to a citizen centric idea.

So this, the government’s center on servicing to that citizen. So we began to develop, with many people from the government, the digital agenda, and we put on purpose the idea of having a digital agenda for 2030. So first of all, how to [00:02:00] imagine where Argentina should be or must be many years from now. And why a digital agenda? 

So while we were developing so many tools, the idea of focusing on the long term was because we were convinced that we should be providing a vision of how the digital transformation can be used for the best of, for the purpose of our country. Also to create a roadmap to provide a prioritization of whole initiatives. And ultimately, the main goal was to accelerate the digital transformation and to close the digital gap.

The advantage that we have, in those days, was that as we were maybe in one of the last countries thinking in the digital agenda, we took advantage of the digital agenda and experiences of other [00:03:00] country. Canada was in a tremendous example for ourselves, UK with their services, also in Latin America, we have Uruguay, Chile, Columbia, Mexico, Estonia with their fantastic tools.

We have plenty of different cases to be based on, so in that vision that we built, we say okay, the vision is that in 2030, we should have these three things. The citizenship. All the citizens digitally included for the economy, for the industry, how the industry can take advantage of the digital transformation in order to promote or to improve competitiveness and also productiveness and in terms of government to totally transform and to have a government as a platform.

So we organized that [00:04:00] digital agenda in five pillars. So. Talking about the legal framework that we need to deliver everything. Also connectivity, digital talent, digital economy, and obviously a digital government, so digital governments, one of the pillars of that digital agenda, so it’s just for you to have some outcomes up to now of that digital agenda, a definition and prioritization. 

We do have today the digital in terms of their legal framework. We have the digital agenda itself. We have some regulation to foster competition in the telecommunications. Very important to expand the connectivity throughout the country. We define this cyber security, digital strategy, and also our artificial intelligence plan.

We do [00:05:00] adopt the cloud first policy to expand the cloud adoption throughout the government. We do have also BIM, the building information modeling adoption for the public works. If we were to connectivity let’s share some of the achievements in connectivity that are really great. It’s enough? Obviously not, but it’s a great improvement from what we found out in 2007, so if we see the connectivity by the region, by department, we moved from 16% to 79% of coverage in 4G deployment. If we see the coverage received for population, we went through 76% to 93% of the population. So huge improvement in those [00:06:00] years. And also the access, very, very important. There’s been a increase in access in terms of a fixed internet connections. We went through almost seven million of access or home access to nine million today.

And also in terms of the speed for the fixed broadband connection, we went through 4.55 BPS to the 20 that we have today. And also, the idea in our government was to promote as much as possible the private sector, but in a large country as Argentina is, for you to know is we are in this eight position in terms of the square kilometers.

So what we define is that the government stage should be where the private sector will not be. [00:07:00] So up to now, we have a very, very ambitious program: having fixed robust connection, fiberoptic connetions throughout the country. And we have today, 30,000 kilometers illuminated all throughout the country.

So that allows us to provide the connectivity to some locations that have less than 500 people in those locations. So it’s not very attractive for the private sector. And we are providing connectivity through ARSAT, it’s called, this fiber optic network. Also, in some cases, we provide satellite internet for specific homes or locations that are maybe in the mountains, in certain reaches that cannot be reached by the fiber optic.

And also some program that has began recently to [00:08:00] provide wifi spot on our roads. Also we put a lot of focus on tourism, on health, on education, and agroindustry, to provide connectivity. And let me tell you, just something to offer health. We develop a telemedicine network for pediatrics in the beginning, and then for all, so it’s a doctor to doctor. So it’s a second opinion telehealth network where somebody that is located very far from the big cities in Argentina can have the support from specialists in medicine. Very, very, very important. Also in rural schools, we provided connectivity for 3600 schools that are about 50% of the schools in rural areas in Argentina. So very, very ambitious program in terms of digital economy. 

Maybe one [00:09:00] of the greatest outcomes is what we call the knowledge industry law. This is a law to provide tax incentives for all the industry that are knowledge based, let’s say, software development, engineering and many others, idea that you only use people’s talent for the world. This new law will be working as of January 2020, and the idea is to generate 200,000 new employees in the next 10 years. 

In terms of digital talent, we work in three different areas. First of all, a very ambitious program to provide education, digital education at school. Kindergarten, initial [00:10:00] primary school and secondary school. So we do already have the plans implemented to provide robotics programming and soft skills from the kindergarten ’til secondary school at public schools. Also, we have a very ambitious inclusion plan, digital inclusion plan. We provide training and we provide also tablets for the senior old people in order to be not left behind in this digital era.

And Talent Digital is a program that we are very proud of, to promote the employment in the software industry. So to generate 10,000 new employees throughout the country with the scholarships and with a commitment from the private sector to provide training programs for those [00:11:00] people 

Also let’s go to the digital government itself. So, which are the achievements nowadays? We implemented the electronic document management, what we call the GDE system. In all the federal agencies. So today, 100% of our procedures in the federal, the national level, they are electronic. So also we implement the purchase program, the purchase platform, the public work purchase platform.

We also put a lot of effort in moving from that horrible situation in terms of transparency and open government. Today, we are very proud that in the last, or when they indexed, we moved to the 17th position, in just one year. And also [00:12:00] we published more than 900 data sets. Throughout the federal government.

So we implemented also the remote forms to avoid the face to face type of procedures. We implemented the simplified societies to open a new society, just less than one day. So, another big achievement is the  Mi Argentina. Mi Argentina is the single window for every citizen. So we have a web page, we have an app, we also develop a digital ID system. We realized, for our surprise, that we have a really good advantage in Argentina to have every citizen already enrolled with our pictures, with our fingertips. And so, we develop a platform that can be used for public sector and for private sector [00:13:00] to provide a digital identification through biometric authentication.

And also we developed the remote digital signature, so today in the app in Argentina, we have the digital wallet, we have digital ID, we have the driver license, we have the car papers all together in the same app, and I can show you if you are interested. 

So these are just some ideas of Argentina, [00:14:00] in [00:15:00] the digital agenda.  (Plays video)