Estonia’s Government CIO outlines how the Baltic Republic has embraced mobile and digital services to develop a new form of citizenship

Dubai, 9th February, 2015 (WAM): The innovative approach to government and citizenship developed in the Baltic nation of Estonia was the subject of discussion during an informative talk by Taavi Kotka, Government CIO, Deputy Secretary General of ICT at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications for Estonia, on the first day of The Government Summit.

Over the last 20 years, Estonia has been a pioneer in developing online and digital services, Mr Kotka, the European CIO of the Year 2014, informed a distinguished audience. Due to Estonia’s relatively small population of 1.3 million, spread across a large geographical area, the implementation of e-government and commerical digital initiatives have been essential in ensuring that Estonia maximises efficiencies and remains competitive in the modern world.

Today, the entire populace of Estonia has access to broadband connection while it was also the first country in the world to provide citizens with full 4G coverage. The sharing of best practice in IT education and in the use of electronic ID cards was of direct relevance to the UAE-based audience, where such forward-looking initiatives have been employed.

Taavi Kotka said: “e-Estonia is a term commonly used to describe Estonia’s emergence as one of the most aanced e-societies in the world – an incredible success story that grew out of a partnership between a forward-thinking government, a pro-active ICT sector and a switched-on, tech-savvy population.” “Estonian citizens are able to perform nearly every public and private sector transaction in digital form. Interaction among government agencies, and between the government and citizens, has been completely transformed in e-Estonia, quickly making bureaucracy a thing of the past and making the running of all levels of government more efficient than ever before.” Estonia’s e-solutions have been credited with providing an unprecedented level of transparency and accessibility in government. Meanwhile, the initiative has been said to offer a safe, convenient and flexible exchange of private, government and corporate data leading to a healthier, better educated population with easy access to social services. This has delivered widespread benefits including a prosperous environment for business and entrepreneurship.

The e-Estonia concept is expected to be widened in coming years in order to secure Estonia’s future and expand its diplomatic reach through the creation of digital data-embassies – in addition to physical ones – as backup for the country’s critical information databases. Such data-embassies will help ensure the digital sustainability of the state, as well as its functionality in possible crisis situations.

On an economic level, the ever increasing use of electronic, digital and mobile services will mean that Estonia continues to have an important contribution to play within the European Union and in the overall global economy.

The Government Summit is being held from February 9 to 11, 2015, in Dubai. In total, there will be 50 sessions, more than 100 speakers and 3,000 participants from 87 countries to discuss the future of education, health services and smart cities. The third edition of The Government Summit, which is the biggest event of its kind in the world, the theme for 2015 is ‘Shaping Future Governments’.