Arvo Ott: Consistency leads to success
Looking back on 2018, we are very proud of eGA’s continuing development – both in our increasing capacity to provide services and much wider reach and recognition.
Since its establishment, eGA has worked with more than 200 organisations from 130 countries. In 2018, we launched new collaboration projects with the UNDP and the World Bank and obtained the status of a Full Mandated Body of the European Commission, which enables us to lead EU Twinning Programme projects similar to public sector organisations.
Moreover, we signed 10 Memoranda of Understanding to enhance cooperation with e-government organisations from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Benin, Djibouti, Kenya, Nagaland (India), Panama, Zimbabwe and Vietnam.
Last year we teamed up with the Strategic Policy Institute from Australia to support digital transformation in Pacific Island countries including the Kingdom of Tonga, Kiribati, Papua New-Guinea, Samoa and others. We also welcomed an increasing interest in partnerships from African and Caribbean countries like Benin, Kenya, the Cayman Islands and Guyana.
E-government is a complex issue. One single technological innovation is usually not sufficient on its own to transform a country digitally. On the other hand, some governments still think of e-government purely in terms of hardware and software acquisition. The complexity lies rather in ecosystems, organisations, management and legislation – the crucial elements for successful transformation.
“Our main focus is still to remind stakeholders of the basic requirements for developing e-governance and the need for one leading institution responsible for digital transformation that can see the bigger picture, not just a fragmented set of e-services.”
Our main advantage is our practical experience, gained from one of the most advanced digital societies in the world – Estonia. Transferring this experience has always been one of the main aims of our training programmes. Nevertheless, e-government cannot simply be copied from one country to another. The only way is to asses a country’s situation and needs and to suggest achievable organisational, legal and technological goals.
In 2018, eGA conducted 35 courses for e-governance officials responsible for digital transformation in their country. The biggest delegations came from India, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.
eGAs biggest project in 2018 was to assist Ukraine in its decentralisation reform by improving public service provision and making governance more transparent and effective. To that end, in cooperation with IT firms Cybernetica and SoftXpansion we developed and are still implementing the government data exchange system ‘Trembita’and information system ‘Vulyk’ for administrative service centres (ASCs).
We are also proud of the exceptional results from developing a secure data exchange in Kyrgyzstan where Tunduk, the data exchange platform launched in 2016 by eGA and Estonian IT firms Aktors and RocksNet, is providing more than 30 e-services. Implementation of this secure data exchange between government agencies in Kyrgyzstan proved once again that the key to the successful implementation of technology is mobilising the political will and getting organisational support from the government. Political stability is also needed to transfer the necessary competencies and skills to local experts. Thus, consistency leads to success.
“The key to the successful implementation of technology is mobilising the political will and getting organisational support from the government.”
In the field of e-democracy, 2018 was characterized by redirecting our existing knowledge and practices, which we have successfully applied beyond Estonia in recent years. We advised more than 15 NGOs from Eastern Partnership (EaP) countrieson how the potential of technology can be used to increase transparency and civic engagement in their countries. Besides mediating knowledge, we also piloted an Estonian information system VOLIS in Georgia where we also assisted two cities in piloting Participatory Budgeting (PB).
The eGA cyber security team made a big leap forward by ranking the cyber security capacities of more than 120 countries in the National Cyber Security Index in 2018. We are proud that the International Telecommunications Unit has recognised the NCSI as the most relevant index in the field.
The e-Governance Conference, our largest annual event and our biggest networking opportunity attracted 387 participants from 76 countries around the world. We were gratified to have the President of Estonia, Kersti Kaljulaid sharing her profound insights into the state’s interaction with digital citizens and we also heard inspiring keynotes from Beth Simone Noveck and Andrew Keen.
We look forward to meeting you and all e-governance enthusiasts at the e-governance conference “Same Goals, Different Roadmaps”, held in Tallinn on 21 – 22 May 2019, where we will talk about how you can find your own way to achieving state development objectives.
See you there!