Expert’s commentary: How COVID-19 influenced digitalisation and digital technologies in Ukraine

Andriy Zablovskyi, Head of the Secretariat of Entrepreneurs Council, Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine

The COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine became the driving force of development of further digital transformations and the implementations in Ukrainian medicine, education, social systems, state and legal services, as well as financial sector, Logistics and trade.

 

Andriy Zablovskyi during 29th Economic Forum in Krynica. From Economic Forum Archive

 

Pandemic and quarantine have largely changed our daily shopping mode of various goods, stimulating demand for online trading, application use and other tools. Ukraine has also became a part of this trend – the food supply market is expected to more than double its online sales in the near future, reaching 50 billion hryvnia’s demand per year. In addition, some large supermarkets have set up their own shopping services. Until six months ago, it was difficult to imagine that this would soon be possible.

The demand for out-of-school education has served as a catalyst for new opportunities in education, including pre-school and primary education. For example, the Kyiv City State Administration has created a “virtual kindergarten”, which offers different activities for the children aged 4-6 years. This service is popular not only among the inhabitants of the capital, but also other cities – the number of users from other regions is constantly increasing.

With the beginning of quarantine, not only educational services, but also Ukrainian courts had started to work online. At the end of March, parliament allowed court meetings to be held on-line. This practice can be used as a test for new technologies in the branch, which are intended to be implemented permanently. Ukraine has been developing the Information and telecommunication judicial system, which will allow the adoption of a large number of online procedural documents, and to hold court meetings as online conferences.

Quarantine and all the the limits have greatly accelerated the practical implementation of the concept of “state in smartphone”, especially the development of the Dija application (ukr: Action) and the internet platform, that provide official digital services. By decision of the government from 15 April 2020, all electronic passports placed in this application are considered the official analogue of a physical passport. As a result, Ukrainians who do not have a physical ID card, passport or driver’s license can prove their identity by using this application. This service can be used by including 17 million people with biometric passports and 3.5 million people with ID cards.

Coronavirus has also accelerated the development of the startup ecosystem in Ukraine. Every crisis stimulates demand for innovation, non-standard technological decisions, especially when it comes to fintech or medtech.