- Veröffentlicht: 21. September 2019
Ukraine’s new administration wants to make state services available on smartphones, and there is one country in particular it can learn from.
In less than three decades, Estonia, a Baltic nation of 1.3 million, has transformed from a Soviet-occupied communist country to one of the world’s leading digital states.
These days, paperwork belongs in Riga museums: 99 percent of services, including online voting, taxation, and running a business, are all available online.
Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid said that building an e-government starts with a single digital identity for citizens, protected by law. The next steps are developing e-services for all kinds of social groups and encouraging citizens to use them.
“Incentivize everyone to use e-services, make e-services more inclusive so that no one is left out, train people in cyber hygiene so they know how to keep their identities safe, and keep developing the e-services on the same platform,” Kaljulaid told the Kyiv Post on the sidelines of the Yalta European Strategy conference in Kyiv on Sep. 13.
Estonia has been consulting Ukraine on digitalization for several years now. It recently appointed its first ever minister for digital transformation with an ambitious project called “State in the Smartphone.”
Developing an e-government portal where state services and permits can be provided electronically was named among top priorities set by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky. The government has also been tasked with auditing all state agencies and assigning e-identities to all citizens that can be used for online voting and census counts in the future.
Kaljulaid said it took her country a decade to build the best e-government in the world.
The first online service was launched in 1997 with the usage of bank identity. The digital ID was created in early 2000s.
“In 2007, we started to feel that we can never go back to paper,” she said. “It took us 10 years, but it would definitely happen quicker nowadays because at that time few had computers, and there were no smartphones.”
Two years ago, the Estonian government had to suspend some 750,000 digital ID keys after discovering a security flaw.
“Several thousand people had to go to the police and renew their certificates, and we almost had a riot. ‘What do you mean I have to go to some office and wait for 30 minutes?’ they asked. Our people are very demanding to this e-environment. They take it for granted.”
The home of some of the global tech companies such as Skype, Transferwise, and Taxify, Estonia has become a trailblazer in the technology and data economy. It became the first country in the world to offer e-residency program to digital entrepreneurs from third countries who want to start an EU-registered business.
“This is not a tax haven but a transparent taxing system,” president Kaljulaid explained. “They have to apply, go through verification, and comply with laws.”
She said that fairness and equality in the eyes of law has been a better boon for businesses than granting preferences.
“We have never stimulated development for any economic sector or any kind of capital — small, medium, or international. But we always guaranteed a level-playing field,” Kaljulaid said. “We tried to ensure that our legal space permitted for the new technology and that investors feel safe.”
Ukraine, next success story?
While Estonia shares its experience gladly, its president believes that the same reforms do not produce the same result in other countries.
In her speech at the Yalta European Strategy conference, Estonian President Kaljulaid emphasized that Ukraine has to strive “to be a better version of what has been done before.”
“I know that because my own country is the better version of any public management that any developed country has been able to create. Many are trying to do the same but nobody yet has achieved,” she said.
“Sometimes people ask me why should we stand up for Ukraine because they are not doing their homework,” she said.
“I say, look, 30 years ago when you were supporting us and our development, you didn’t do it because you thought that we will be a digital wonderland where transforming experiments of society are carried out and you can learn something. So, who tells you that Ukraine is not the next place globally where these developments can take place?”
Autor(en)/Author(s): Bermet Talant
Quelle/Source: Kyiv Post, 14.09.2019