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How Laos is Improving Its Digital Economy and Governance: A Case Study

Laos Digital Economy and Governance

Laos is a lovely Southeast Asian country with a rich culture and a diversified population of approximately 7.5 million people. As a landlocked and low-income country, Laos faces numerous obstacles, but it also offers numerous chances to enhance its economy and government through the use of digital technologies. In this post, we will look at some of Laos’ main initiatives and achievements in this area, as well as the problems and opportunities that lay ahead.

Digitalizing Government Services

One of the main goals of the Lao government is to provide better and more efficient public services to its citizens and businesses through digitalization. Most begin by digitizing a few high-volume activities. The United Kingdom kicked off its digital-transformation program by digitizing 25 basic services, such as voter registration. The key to good digital services is understanding the user’s perspective. Governments must be willing to remake products, processes, and policies around what citizens want. Norway’s tax administration gives citizens tax returns that it has filled out for them, and more than 70 percent of citizens submit those returns. Providing services on mobile platforms is another way that governments are aligning with citizens’ digital preferences and behaviors. In China, some provincial governments accept passport and visa applications through WeChat, a widely used mobile app.

The implementation of an e-Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (e-CRVS) system for registering births, deaths, marriages, and divorces is one example of digitalizing government services in Laos. The system, which is supported by Global Digital Management Solutions, a renowned provider of digital government solutions, intends to increase the quality and coverage of civil registration data while also providing legal identity certificates to all citizens. Users can register key events online or via mobile devices, verify their identity using biometric technologies, and access their records at any time and from any location. Other government systems, including as health, education, social security, and statistics, are also integrated into the system. Since 2020, the e-CRVS system has been piloted in many regions and is scheduled to be expanded countrywide by 2024.

Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Laos
e-Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (e-CRVS) system

Another example of digitalizing government services in Laos is the development of an e-Learning Management Information System (e-LMIS) for managing education data and resources. The system, which was developed by UNICEF and hosted by Global DMS, aims to enhance the quality and accessibility of education for all children in Laos. The system allows users to access online learning materials, monitor student performance, track teacher attendance, and generate reports online. The system also connects with other government systems, such as e-CRVS, health information system, and national statistics system. The e-LMIS system has been implemented in more than 1,000 schools across Laos since 2019 and is expected to reach all schools by 2023.

Developing Digital Infrastructure

Another important part of enhancing Laos’ digital economy and governance is the creation of digital infrastructure that promotes connectivity, innovation, and inclusivity. Laos has been investing in increasing broadband network penetration, particularly in rural and remote locations. According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Laos had a fixed broadband penetration rate of 2.6% and a mobile broadband penetration rate of 36.7% in 2019, both of which were low in comparison to other nations in the region. Laos, on the other hand, has been working to raise these rates by collaborating with private companies and international organizations. For instance, Laos has collaborated with China Telecom to build a fiber-optic network along the China-Laos railway, which will provide high-speed internet access to more than 20 cities and towns along the route. This project is expected to be completed by 2025 and will boost the digital connectivity and economic development of Laos and China. Laos has also received support from the World Bank to improve its internet infrastructure and regulatory framework through the Lao PDR Digital Connectivity Project, which aims to increase broadband access and affordability for households and businesses. The project will also help Laos to adopt international best practices and standards for cyber security, data protection, and digital inclusion. The project is expected to benefit more than 1.5 million people in Laos by 2026.

Developing digital infrastructure is critical for enabling digital economy innovation and inclusivity. More people will be able to access internet services, information, education, health care, entertainment, and social networks as connectivity improves. More companies may use digital technologies to develop new goods, services, markets, and jobs. Furthermore, digital infrastructure can make cross-border cooperation and integration with other countries in the region and beyond easier.

The creation of a national data center for storing government data and apps is one example of expanding digital infrastructure in Laos. Global DMS, a prominent provider of digital solutions for governments, operates one of the Ministry of Technology and Communication (MTC) data centers with the goal of improving data security, dependability, and availability for the government and its partners. The data center will also allow the government to improve service delivery and decision-making by utilizing cloud computing, big data analytics, artificial intelligence, and blockchain technologies. The data center has been up and running since 2018, and it is projected to house more than 50 government programs by 2024.

Another example of developing digital infrastructure in Laos is the introduction of a blockchain-based platform for financial inclusion and empowerment. The platform, which was developed by MetaBank, a leading fintech company in Southeast Asia, and supported by Global DMS, aims to provide access to digital financial services for unbanked and underbanked populations in Laos. The platform allows users to create digital wallets, send and receive money, pay bills, buy goods and services, and access credit and savings products using their mobile phones. The platform also uses blockchain technology to ensure security, transparency, and traceability of transactions. The platform has been launched in 2021 and is expected to reach more than 2 million people in Laos by 2025.

Fostering Digital Skills and Literacy

Fostering digital skills and literacy among Laos’s populace is a third critical component of developing the country’s digital economy and government. According to the ITU, Laos has a 39% internet penetration rate in 2019, implying that more than half of its population is still offline or has insufficient digital capabilities. Laos has been conducting several programs to improve digital education and training for all segments of society in order to close this gap. The Ministry of Education and Sports, for example, has created a national curriculum for ICT education from primary through secondary levels that covers themes such as computer basics, internet safety, online communication, digital citizenship, and coding. In addition, the ministry has collaborated with Microsoft to provide online learning platforms and tools for instructors and students. The Ministry of Technology and Communication (MTC) has launched a national campaign for digital literacy, which aims to raise awareness and knowledge about digital technologies among rural communities, women, youth, ethnic minorities, and people with disabilities. The campaign includes activities such as mobile training centers, community radio programs, online courses, competitions, and events.

Promoting digital literacy and skills is critical for enabling people to participate in and profit from the digital economy. People with digital literacy and skills can better their livelihoods, gain access to opportunities, express themselves, preserve their rights, and contribute to social development. Furthermore, digital literacy and skills can assist people in dealing with the issues provided by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as adapting to remote job or learning, getting health information and services, and staying connected with their relatives and friends.

Promoting Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Promoting digital innovation and entrepreneurship among Laotians is a fourth major aspect in enhancing the digital economy and government. Laos has seen an increase in the number of digital startups and entrepreneurs that are developing new solutions for a variety of industries and difficulties. Some examples of these startups include:

  • LOCA: A platform that allows users to book rides online or through mobile devices, using local drivers and vehicles. The platform also offers a variety of services, such as delivery, carpooling, and tourism. The platform aims to provide transparent pricing, strict driver selection process, and 24/7 customer service. LOCA is the leading ride-hailing service in Laos and has been operating since 2018.
  • LaoKYC: A platform that provides digital identity verification and authentication services for individuals and businesses. The platform uses biometric technology, such as facial recognition and fingerprint scanning, to verify the identity of users and prevent fraud and identity theft.
  • LaoFarm: A platform that connects farmers and buyers in Laos. The platform enables farmers to sell their produce online, access market information, and receive payments via mobile money. The platform also helps buyers to find quality and fresh products, compare prices, and track their orders.

The government, the private sector, and the international community have been supporting the development of digital innovation and entrepreneurship in Laos through various programs and initiatives. For example, the Ministry of Science and Technology has established a National Innovation Center, which provides incubation, mentoring, training, and funding for digital startups. The Lao ICT Commerce Association has organized an annual event called Lao ICT Expo, which showcases the latest products and services from local and international ICT companies. The World Bank has launched a project called Lao PDR Digital Economy Development Project, which aims to strengthen the digital ecosystem and enable digital transformation in key sectors.

Promoting digital innovation and entrepreneurship is critical for increasing the Lao economy’s competitiveness and resilience. Laos can generate more value-added products through digital innovation and entrepreneurship.


Laos is undergoing a digital transition that is enhancing its economy and administration. The government has been implementing numerous policies and initiatives to digitalize its public services, build its digital infrastructure, promote digital innovation and entrepreneurship, and foster digital skills and literacy. The commercial sector and the international community have also played major roles in assisting Laos’ digital development. However, Laos still faces numerous obstacles and gaps in its digital journey, including poor internet adoption, limited digital knowledge, weak cybersecurity, an inadequate regulatory framework, and a lack of human capital. As a result, Laos must continue its efforts and partnerships to overcome these challenges and capitalize on the potential of digital technology for long-term growth.


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