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WGS 2019: Estonian Representatives Share Digitization Successes at WGS

Rene Tammist: Digital ID accelerates processes, facilitates adoption of technology in society
e-residency initiative saw the registration of 52,000 digital residents from 167 countries, attracted 6,500 new companies in four years

 Sallam Sallam 

 A track of sessions titled ‘Best Practices From Estonia – Europe’s Digital Leader’, held on the first day of the World Government Summit (WGS) 2019, brought together leading experts to discuss Estonia’s digitalization success journey to become one of the world’s leading e-societies, in a way that showcased the truly global incubator that the summit has become for the exchange of ideas in Dubai

Rene Tammist, Estonian Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology, discussed the country’s need to rebuild its economy and the digitally led approach it has taken. He noted that an integrated government framework based on a close collaboration between the government and the private sector has allowed citizens today access to a realm of government services and information from their smartphones in a country where taxes are paid in less than five minutes, and voting is digital

Tammist said the uniqueness of the Estonian experience is driven by the digital ID, which accelerated processes and increased the readiness of the people to adopt digital services. He added that Estonia’s experience in this area differs from others in the decentralization of most services and limiting the need to visit government authorities for specific transactions

Tammist also discussed the adoption of blockchain technology across government transactions in a manner that protects the privacy of individuals against third-party threats

Touching upon artificial intelligence, he spoke about Estonia’s plans to enhance opportunities for future generations and launch a new strategy for artificial intelligence in early 2019. The strategy will focus on the public transport sector and take into account the ethical dimensions of AI and the privacy and rights of individuals

Marek Helm, General Manager of Nortal, introduced Estonia’s experience in information technology, an industry that is exporting innovations to 128 countries. He said that today, Estonian companies are radically changing the e-services sector of other countries and are supporting governments around the world with projects in electronic statistics, real estate registration, and facilitating business processes

Helm outlined nine criteria for the success of the Estonian digital transformation: data quality, political will, infrastructure, awareness, trust, internet access, laws, change management and government integration

He added that there are many opportunities for countries to follow the example of Estonia, which began its technological revolution only 20 years ago. He thanked the United Arab Emirates for providing experience-sharing platforms, such as the World Government Summit

In his presentation, Siim Sikkut, Chief Information Officer of the Government of Estonia, reiterated the role of Estonia’s e-residency in enabling entrepreneurs and business innovators to become digital citizens in Estonia without even having to come to the country

He noted that in four years, the e-residency initiative saw the registration of 52,000 digital residents from 167 countries, attracting 6,500 new companies, mainly from Finland, Russia, Ukraine, Germany and the United States

In closing, Sikkut highlighted the opportunity for countries to enhance their economic and development capabilities through adopting Estonia’s model in line with the rise of digitalization, financial technology and artificial intelligence

The three-day World Government Summit 2019 runs until February 12 at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai. The landmark event has convened more than 4,000 participants from 140 countries, including heads of state and governments, as well as top-tier representatives of 30 international organizations

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