A super app is an application that provides end users—customers, employees, or constituents—with a set of core features that allow them access to independently created online services. For governments that are building services on the Internet, a super app is like a Swiss army knife that offers a range of component tools that the citizens can use to transact business with government agencies.
President Marcos on Friday said the newly launched eGov Super App will strengthen the government’s campaign in fighting corruption and boost the economy. In his speech after leading the ceremonial activation of the super app and kick-off ceremony of the National Information Communication Technology Month in Malacañang, he stressed the importance of the new initiative to make the government’s services more accessible. The simplified online government transactions from the app, the President said, will help prevent incidents of corruption. (Read, “PBBM leads launch of eGov Super App,” in the BusinessMirror, June 2, 2023).
The super app, which can be downloaded for free at both Google Play and Apple App Store, will allow users to access several government services online, including the subscriber identity module (SIM) card registration, local government unit services, job application, tourism information, start-up empowerment, health-care information, and a people’s feedback mechanism.
The President stressed the importance of digitalizing government services, saying it would be useful, easy and convenient for ordinary Filipino citizens. He said maximizing the use of new technologies would also get rid of “fixers” who ask for money in exchange for facilitating transactions with government agencies. “In that way, it simplifies the process especially for the citizens and there is no discretion being exercised by anyone,” Marcos said. “We should not allow the people to continue to suffer from these antiquated, corrupt, and inefficient system.”
The President said the super app initiative is expected to attract more investments in the country resulting in more business and employment opportunities. “If we are to look at our neighboring countries, for example, to Europe, to the United States, then we can see that you cannot compete on an even basis unless you are highly digitalized, both in the private sector and in the public sector,” he added.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan admitted that transacting even among government agencies is already a big challenge. “By forcing us to have a common platform, then it will be easier for us to communicate among the different agencies. The public will have a better way of experiencing public service. They can reduce their cost of transacting with the government because you have an efficient app platform for transacting with different agencies. For example, if you are from Bulacan, you don’t have to go to Makati or to Pasig, just to transact with a government agency,” Balisacan said.
Department of Information and Communications Technology Secretary Ivan E. Uy said they plan to expand the available services from the super app in its future updates. “This will be a continuing process as we continually improve the system and bring together all the different government agencies,” Uy said.
The Philippine population as of June 3, 2023 is 113,827,651, based on Worldometer elaboration of the latest United Nations data. There were 85.16 million Internet users in the country in January 2023, or about 73 percent of the population. About 31.30 million Filipinos have no Internet connection at the start of the year, suggesting that 27 percent of the population remained offline.
The launching of the eGov Super App is a step in the right direction. But we can’t attain universal digital inclusion and change the lives of many Filipinos until we bridge a significant digital divide that hinders the adoption of information and communication technology in certain areas of the country.
It would do well for the Marcos administration to accelerate the deployment of the National Broadband Plan to improve overall Internet speed and affordability, which will have profound effects on Philippine households and the country’s economy. As former US president Barack Obama said: “The Internet is not a luxury, it is a necessity.”