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Podcast & blog: Digital transformation in Brazil, and how Estonia can help

23.11.2022 | Federico Plantera

Based on essentially all wiki facts and general information, Brazil and Estonia could not be more different. Geographically, culturally, and socially. And still, as we luckily very often saw happen in the past years, these too have a joint meeting point – digital transformation.

Interest in Estonia’s digital journey remains constant among policy and changemakers from the Latin American country, while Brazil’s own digital development probably picks up pace probably more than ever before. Raphael Fassoni, Co-Founder and CEO of Estônia Hub, gives us insight into the state of digitalization in Brazil and why Estonia remains a reference point across the ocean. Tune in!

 

Citizen’s eye on the state of digitalization in Brazil

In the past couple of years, improvements in Brazil’s digital standing have been impressive. “At a federal level, the government has launched the gov.br platform, and the idea is to digitize pretty much the whole array of public services. Plus, just recently, the World Bank listed Brazil as second globally in terms of most digitized governments,” Fassoni highlights.

“Brazilians, in general, can already be considered online people, used to digital tools at large – it is enough to think of social media usage rates, where the country usually tops the charts.”

But as previously discussed in other episodes of the Digital Government Podcast, while citizens might already be digitalthanks to how accustomed they are to consuming media online, this does not necessarily correspond to intensive digital service use.

 

Administrative complexity at the federal and local levels

Things get more complex, indeed, if we take into account the administrative structure of the country. And, as a consequence, the parallel or siloed development of different digitalization projects between government and local administrations.

“This is the critical stage we’re at. The federal government is pretty much going door to door, to convince local institutions that the gov.br platform is the way to go. But today, if we look at the portfolio of services citizens in Rio or São Paulo may have up and ready for use, we may find differences based on the services each administration provides,” Fassoni points out.

Let’s not forget we are talking about a federal republic of over 200 million people, with 27 regions or states, and 5570 cities. Big.

 

Bridging knowledge across the ocean, between Brazil and Estonia

Estônia Hub contributes to spreading awareness and knowledge among Brazilian changemakers of what Estonia’s digital transformation is about. “Because we believe that Estonia has had a great run in government, healthcare, education, and the country has a lot to share on those matters. There is a saying, that ‘Brazil is the oldest country of the future’. By looking at Estonia, we understood there was a place that managed to solve most of the problems Brazil still struggles with since a long time,” Fassoni says. “As a Brazilian, you do get inspired by it. And we realized that public leaders in Brazil were also eager to listen, come to Estonia, and see for themselves.”

 

Towards holistic and inclusive digital development

Fassoni and Estônia Hub are bridging the knowledge and geographical distance between the two countries, crafting tailored visits and study programmes for Brazilians to experience and learn about Estonia’s digital journey. Due to that, they are cooperating with government agencies, sector experts, and centres of excellences in Estonia – and e-Governance Academy is among them. The ultimate goal, is for such knowledge transfer to boost both reach and inclusion of Brazil’s digital transformation.

“It has to be able to include literally everybody. So we need to make sure that we have the necessary infrastructure for connectivity, devices. Otherwise, as digital development advance, existing gaps simply increase. You may have states that have digitized pretty much the whole portfolio of their services, and other that are instead lagging behind.”

“I think this holistic approach, in terms of the social aspect of including everybody, is really important and relevant for Brazil,” Fassoni concludes.