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At the e-Governance Conference “A Digital Decade in One Year”

At the e-Governance Conference “A Digital Decade in One Year” © Raigo Pajula


Dear listeners in more than 130 countries.

I know many of you. Two years ago with our brothers and sisters of Smart Africa we agreed that in 10 years’ time – they said 5, but I said maybe more realistically 10 – I`ll be able to take my e-prescription from Estonia and use it in Kigali.

Since then I have upped my expectations. I now hope that in 5 years’ time every baby born globally will be registered directly into their government`s population registry simply by using their mothers or fathers mobile – it shouldn’t even be 5G or 4G, 3G would be enough.

Governments would stop losing their people simply because they don`t know who they are or where they are and how to make them feel part of the community, of their society.

That is my dream and COVID-19 pandemic has in many ways made this dream more globally understandable for leaders of rich, developed, aspiring nations, digital nations and nations afraid of digitalisation.

We now know how efficient new tools could be, but there is also one risk. In developed world, many services were rushed online without first creating the proper backbone. By which I mean digital identity and permissive legal environment which should make the system reliable, safe to use, and protect our data. I would advise everybody to go over their rapid developments and to be proud of the achievement that we have seen in the last year. But also to verify and cross-verify that they have built the system this way that people feel it safe to use it, governments can really rely on it and the data is not leaking. This is extremely important.

Estonia as a member of the UNSC feels responsible that if we promote e-governance, we should also promote protection of sovereignty which shouldn`t and cannot never be attacked through digital channels.

That is why we, together with our partners, raised discussion about the cyber-attack on Georgia at the UNSC level in order to start creating common law which would allow us in the future to also have the UN to turn to if our systems come under attack.

This way we can globally develop digital technological tools in order to make sure that our people can be part of the rapidly emerging global service economy.

We were used to global trade flow, this was taken from us. We have seen disruptions, regionalisation. Now it is time for the global services market. I want data systems which will allow the citizen of Tunisia, Fiji, Vanuatu to participate in the EU’s jobs market. To be bookkeepers, data analysts. We must create our digital systems and data clouds the way that they would be permissive and open to this kind of cooperation.

On the other hand, we cannot allow people to look into our data without clear identification systems. In Europe we have created eIDAS, but my ambition is that we go globally. We should not only talk about jointly verifying our vaccination credentials through WHO, which I admit, is extremely important. We should be much more global in our models of co-working, teleworking and making sure that there is less anonymity and far more trust in both public and private digital systems.

I wish you all the best in discussing all the technical and political details of this emerging world after COVID pandemics.