Kaja Kallas: E-governance is a question of building up democracy

  • 2023-05-30

Opening the e-Governance Conference, Kaja Kallas, Prime Minister of Estonia emphasized the need to focus on citizens while developing digital government.

“E-governance is not just about building technology but also building up democracy. When the government is not online it just alienates from the people. We need to deliver what is best for the citizen,“ said Kaja Kallas, Prime Minister of Estonia. „The future is about personalized and seamless services, leveraging artificial intelligence.“

Luukas Ilves, Government Chief Information Officer of Estonia said that the future belongs to the use of artificial intelligence and further discussions are needed on its application. „In the last six months, it has become clear that the future of how people interact with data and electronic services is going to be through AI and conversational, in one form or another. But the question is how to turn a conversation with a chatbot into a legally binding government decision,“ he explained.

“Estonia doesn’t have all the answers; we are also struggling with administrative processes and legacy. There’s no point in doing it alone, we are much stronger when doing it together and making use of open-source solutions,” said Ilves.

Right now, the Estonian government is preparing for a launch of the government app mRiik. This is done together with the Ukrainian government, as mRiik is based on the Ukrainian DIIA app. „When we started our digital journey, we were inspired by Estonia and now we are ready to share our best practice with Estonia,“ said Mykhailo Fedorov, Vice Minister of Ukraine.

Fedorov reminded everyone in his video keynote that despite the most brutal war Ukraine is keeping its society resilient and going, and even has managed to launch new public digital services that help the country and its citizens to persist during the war.

He pointed out that one of the most fundamental e-services for digital societies is the digital signature. „Ukrainian electronic signatures and seals on digital documents may be automatically checked in EU member states, and their validity confirmed. We are actually the first non-EU country to get this opportunity. And it’s one more way for the European Union to open its borders to Ukrainians. This time the digital ones,“ said Fedorov.

The 9th e-Governance Conference “Digital Innovation as Catalyst for Social Change” will take place in Tallinn on May 30-31, focusing this year on how to implement digital innovations more efficiently, prevent digital vulnerability and be ready for the increased use of artificial intelligence in the public sector. The two-day event will host digital development strategists, decision-makers, policy implementers, and donors from more than 90 countries across the world.

The two-day conference features 60 leaders and experts of digital transformation. A high-ranking line-up of speakers is topped by Kaja Kallas, Prime Minister of Estonia; Mykhailo Fedorov, Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine, Dumitru Alaiba, Vice Prime Minister of Moldova, ICT Ministers from Armenia, Gambia, Estonia, Indonesia, Sao Tome and Principe, Namibia, Kazakhstan, Uganda; distinguished experts and speakers David Eaves (UCL), Mstsyslav Banik (Ukraine); Paul Timmers (Oxford, UK), and many other digital developers and leaders from around the world.

The conference's workshops and presentations will provide an overview of the latest digital innovations in Brazil, Costa Rica, the Gambia, Indonesia, Ukraine, and other African countries, as well as Estonia's contribution to the digital development of several countries. The conference also features an expo of digital solutions from Estonian and international companies.

The speakers’ introductions, the program, and participation information can be found on the conference website at egovconference.ee.

The 9th e-Governance Conference is organized by the e-Governance Academy (eGA), the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Estonian International Development Cooperation Centre (ESTDEV). With this year's conference, eGA celebrates its 20 years of activity in championing digital societies. During this time, in cooperation with Estonian and international organizations, eGA has carried out more than 300 cooperation projects, with over 280 organizations, in 141 countries and regions. The experience gained has inspired the theme of this year's Conference “Digital Innovation as Catalyst for Social Change”.