Prime Minister L. Oyun-Erdene met with the industry of information and communications technology last Friday / February 5, 2021 /. The Government of Mongolia has announced that information technology is one of the priorities of the economy, and starting a digital transformation in all sectors and becoming an e-Nation.
In this context, Prime Minister L.Oyun-Erdene made a presentation about the strategy. “We need to integrate the separate systems to become a digital nation,” he said. We must walk together for the goal of change across the country. For example, integrate the health sector. The traditional card in the health sector and handwriting on it should be abolished. All diagnoses are valid, tests and diagnoses given at the First Hospital must be valid at the Third Hospital even when you go to a foreign hospital. Land management will also be connected digitally. The certificate must be issued digitally, not in hard copy, but bar code.
Customs, courts, and taxes are digitalized. The Ministry of Finance did a good job on this. State registration needs to be digitalized. Eventually, the election will be conducted electronically if the person can identify himself, he should be able to get the service on his favorite account without delay. If you meet the requirements, you will be able to create the desired company within an hour.
Transportation must be digitalized. When you go to Bayanzurkh post you should stop taking cash for the payment. It causes the traffic. It is not clear whether the money goes to the government or to the workers. Cars should be passed directly on the camera. A lot of data will be collected and processed to determine how many cars with local license plates are in Ulaanbaatar, how many are downtown, and how many are stuck near markets and shopping malls.
It takes about 1 hour and 55 minutes to order an ID card. It only takes 5 minutes if you do it digitally. There is no greater duty for the state than to save the time of its citizens. Therefore, we must become a nation that is stress-free, wakes up in the morning, is active, runs nationwide at 7:30 am, receives public services from its mobile phone, and develops itself at other times.
After that, Ms. Bolor-Erdene, Chairwoman of the Communications and Information Technology Authority of Mongolia, introduced six major goals that must be done to become an “e-Nation”. She said in her report that Mongolians will make the digital transformation and become an e-nation in six areas: digital infrastructure, e-government, information security, digital literacy, innovation, and the accelerator of national development.
The new government also aims to transfer 592 services online within its first 100 days. Studies show that people use these services at least once every five years. The most important thing is information security. This issue will be solved based on the E-Mongolia application. For example, in order to calculate your tax, it is important for you been notified that which inspector is checking your tax information.
At the same time, she informed the industry about the initiative to establish an E-Mongolia academy. The academy will be a public-private partnership that provides training and advocacy for the digitalization of public services, trains civil servants in IT skills, and trains citizens to get public services online.
After that, some companies addressed the government and expressed their opinions.
- BATTULGA, DIRECTOR, IT ZONE COMPANY: It is believed that the main reason for the digital transformation is the emergence of four major technologies in the world. With the emergence of these four technologies, a great social and economic revolution is taking place. It was called the Fourth Industrial Revolution during the Davos conference. Therefore, it is very important to master these 4 technologies. Many business models based on these four technologies are emerging and require new regulations. With the advent of taxi services such as Uber, for example, the government needed to make new arrangements. Therefore, the government needs to take immediate action on this regulation. In the case of Mongolia, the decision on e-money took a long time. Most money Company started talking about this 10 years ago. We are slow to accept and respond to emerging business models on new technologies. The law on digital signatures has been approved a long time ago. Many services based on digital signatures are expected. However, the problem is that the law has been approved but the regulations have not been issued. It is good to pay attention to this.
In the past, Mongolia has developed a solid infrastructure. Now it’s time to focus on software or soft infrastructure. The E-Mongolia we are talking about today is a matter of soft infrastructure. There are also a lot of process issues with digital transformation. We hope that the government will be very proactive, as there will be a big problem in the process. Mongolian companies are trying to master the above technologies. But we don’t have the opportunity to create technology. But we see success in developing apps or products based on these four technologies. We are also able to take the initiative in which direction to take and develop.
G.LKHAMSUREN, ICT GROUP EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Initiatives on Digital transformation and E-development are very good and have advantages. But there are downsides to seeing, thinking, and planning. In a globalized world, we need to be very careful about the issue of isolation. Although we use imported products, we cannot be imported on intellectual products. In terms of soft infrastructure, it should not be dependent on other countries. For example, geographical information systems and cloud infrastructure. You can use great external software and apps. But to work with it, its basic infrastructure must be in Mongolia. It’s called the China-US Trade War, but it’s actually an information data war. Russia and China are doing a very good job of planning the data security and data collection infrastructure for the so-called oil of the future. So let’s talk about the good side, what kind of technology will be the basic infrastructure of information technology, and where will it be owned? We need to have a clear policy on who will ensure continuity. A lot has been done in the Mongolian information technology sector in the past. But those works were always done like a firefighter. There was a separate system. Data is not a combination of fabrics. So when we start this big project, we have to be very strategic and look at both sides. We need to pay close attention to human resources and internal conditions. The private sector can do it. But we want to do it strategically. And it’s not just mining, we’re going to make a social transition. As long as this is not a single sector issue and social transition is about to take place, we need to do it wisely and ethically.
V.BAYARSAIKHAN, FOUNDER OF TOMYO EDTECH: We have big ambitions. Secondly, we have a shared vision. While the Prime Minister was giving a speech, I thought about the vision fund. The Vision Fund means to grow together by combining a common future and ambition. Most of the young people gathered here are representatives of young entrepreneurs who have raised funds from around the world. A few years ago, state-owned IT companies always won tenders and provided poor performance. Today, we, the Mongolian youth, are entrepreneurs, we are all working on social issues, not creating a state system, but something that serves our society – we are innovating in all areas. Rather than moving in the same direction, we are proposing to create a fund and so that come up with something that we can do on our own. What is it like to have a decentralized vision? Recently, CallPro has raised investment from Japan, and ICT Group, Erxes, and And Global did the same. The intellectual potential of Mongolians is 6th in the world. We believe, that of course, we will be a digital nation. These people have the same ambition as the Prime Minister because they are more open-minded and have the ambition to come up with their own ideas. It is only a matter of time before we have a legal environment. Therefore, I think that the best way is to establish a Vision Fund and support the potential of Mongolian youth.
D.Enkhbat, CEO of Unitel LLC: I am pleased that the Government of Mongolia is leading and supporting the call for digital transformation and e-nation. As the example of “why not” that you said on the podium, we’ve met with relevant people before and exchanged ideas. But it may be because there is no such leadership as there is today. The response to it seemed to be slow, the feedback was poor, and the attitude of whether it was right to do so seemed to be at the middle level. Now that the leadership has begun, it will probably go faster. However, if this is a large national project, the roles of the participants must be very clear. Leadership is in place. At this stage of implementation, please clarify the roles of middle-level participants. This transformation will be accelerated if a system is established to account for specific initiatives and hold those who did not respond or draw conclusions accountable.
B.UUGANBAYAR, CEO of INTERACTIVE LLC: I don’t see the need for regulation for these young people coming into this industry. In principle, the market for innovation is not limited by Mongolia. The government needs to approve the strategy for a digital transformation. Then it’s easier for IT companies to plan their business and get involved. We have done a lot of work with the government in the past, but the other systems were separate, there was no unified management, and each sector was trying to solve the IT problem. Once the big goal was set, we are ready to participate. The main thing is to clarify how the IT sector is going to develop. If you really want to make a local brand, you have to be very clear that the government will be a big buyer. It is especially important to note that state-owned companies are in all sectors.
Ts. MENDBAYAR, DIRECTOR of SHOPPY.MN: We have limited resources. Both in the private sector and in the government. But we have a lot of work to do. Companies are divided. One develops its own products, the other provides services to the government and performs tenders. As companies that develop their products, we need to be involved in technology architecture and solutions so that we don’t have to do the same thing twice. The work presented in the report is a huge work. We can do it all. We have no doubt about that. It takes a lot of time. We no longer have the right to choose the wrong technology and the wrong solution from the beginning. We have very limited resources. So we both need to work and not make mistakes.
J.ZOLZAYA, FOUNDER OF STARTUP MARKETING SPACE COMPANY, FOUNDER OF DREAMERS ASSOCIATION: DREAMERS Association, we surveyed entrepreneurs and start-ups last June. 17 professional associations, more than 2,800 young entrepreneurs, and 500 companies have joined the association. The purpose of this association is to unite under one hat of the industry, to raise its voice, and to create conditions for decision-makers to create the necessary legal environment and start-up ecosystem. We have put together our proposals. Ecosystems include the legal environment, investment, skills, and infrastructure. Mongolia ranks 93rd out of 100 countries in terms of start-up ecosystems. It ranks 690th out of 1,000 cities. Ulaanbaatar ranks 482 out of 500 cities as an innovative city. So we have a lot of work to do. On December 19, 2019, a working group chaired by MP N. Uchral amended the Innovation Law. There were a lot of suggestions on this as well. Although the law has been amended, start-ups are unable to make various benefits due to the lack of regulations. There are only 42 start-up companies registered with the Ministry of Education. In the past, we, the Dreamers, have met with Prime Minister U.Khurelsukh on May 26 and instructed MP D.Tsogtbaatar and MP N.Uchral to do this work. In this context, we are taking part in the working group for the draft law of “Let’s make Mongolia a free economic zone for information technology start-ups”.
The establishment of the Ministry of e-Development is strongly supported by our industry. However, I would like to request the Government that the youth and representatives of the industry be much involved in this.
A.BYAMBAJARGAL, CHAIRMAN OF FARO NGO, REPRESENTATIVE OF FACEBOOK COMPANY IN MONGOLIA: In the last three years, we have officially translated the digital literacy program into Mongolian and taught it to more than 7,000 teachers and 10,000 students. We are talking about information technology, infrastructure, and IT, but we need to focus on educating and developing the users. We are working on creating a lot of resources. We are digital immigrants and our children are becoming digital citizens. Therefore, it is necessary to include digital literacy in the core curriculum of the education system. The second problem is that we face a lot of problems as a representative of Facebook. The government addresses many issues, such as the proper use of social media, false information, and fraud. However, if we provide our people with digital literacy education, the number of people contacting Facebook through the government will decrease. For example, reporting is a part of Facebook’s own infrastructure. But all this needs to be taught. Before, we have not received sufficient support from the government to implement this program. Therefore, I want the new government to work hard to support the development of its citizens of Mongolia.
A.MEND-ORSHIKH, FOUNDER OF ERXES COMPANY: In the 21st century, countries around the world are competing for startups. Estonia – 4th, Singapore – 10th. We do not have such a company. Young people have no dreams. There is no dream of starting a company like Uber. The biggest obstacle to this dream is the state itself. Over the past 20 years, the government has organized a large number of thieves and tender-eating companies. Half of the companies gathered here are working on the goal of bringing their products to Silicon Valley, and how to make a name for the country internationally, something that will bring dreams to young people. Half of them still follow the boss and get rich, headhunt the engineers of the company that are competing with the money they earn and prevent them from doing so for a long time. The biggest player is the government. There are a lot of companies that are happy to hear your presentation and thinking to get a lot of tenders. Well, once we have become an e-nation, so someone from out of town may benefit from it. But this is not a big impact. Today we must have a dream, must have a company in the Silicon Valley, and this so-called e-nation must be formed naturally. If necessary, there is ready technology. You don’t have to suffer to make it happen. There is no problem in working with a company that can. What we can’t do is we can’t go internationally as a united. The vision fund we are talking about today is important. For the last eight years, companies have been trying to attract investment to Mongolia by going to Silicon Valley. We are nobody in the world. But when you are in power today, at least we should become mature and should be internationally recognized. We don’t need a tender. Companies that follow tenders should be eliminated. We need tax breaks, ecosystems, soft loans, and grants. What is being done in a developed country is needed.
B.GABIT, INFINITIVE SOLUTIONS: We were established in 2007. Since the establishment, we have been in the international market from the very beginning. We have started several startups in the United States, Singapore, and Mexico. When we were first established, we realized that we had to create more. So we established NEST in 2017. The school aims to provide IT skills for our students. A child who has completed secondary school has IT skills. The most important thing is that we must increase the engineers. There must be a lot of IT engineers. A startup needs a lot of testing. Then we will have a lot of good engineers. Artificial intelligence and blockchain need to be understood very well. Then all Mongolians understand the meaning of artificial intelligence.
B.BOLOR-ERDENE, CHAIRWOMAN OF CITA: It is a productive meeting. Everyone is claiming their own concerns. Our young people do not cooperate with the government. There is a problem with government wrongdoing, tenders, etc., I do not deny. However, all of them were invited to cooperate with the government. You said it is difficult and you will not cooperate with the government. It is true that it is difficult, but now a new government has been formed and new goals are being set and new dreams are being told. We all need to cooperate, let’s stop running away from cooperating with the government. Let’s stop criticizing from the outside. Now, do cooperate with the government and the agency. Let’s really try to change. Let’s use these three years. You are all great guys, Mongolia’s best people, and you are setting up and developing IT companies. Most of the people here have been invited to work together on E-Mongolia. Everyone said no. I would like to urge you to work with the government with courage, time, and effort, and not with such an attitude again.
At the end of the meeting, the Prime Minister L.Oyun-Erdene and the Minister of Finance B.Javlan expressed their support to the IT start-up companies on issues such as tax policy and soft loans.