Estonia’s IT minister Andres Sutt talks to e-Estonia Briefing Centre’s Digital Transformation Adviser Anett Numa in our inaugural podcast about this small digital nation’s e-history and the future ahead. You’ll also hear what he considers the most potent e-service and what would, in his opinion, help us out of the current global pandemic.
Minister Sutt has had an impressive career, mostly in finance – serving as the Vice-President of Eesti Pank and the Head of the Banking Division of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM); in addition to the University of Tartu, he graduated from INSEAD and Harvard Law School.
One shouldn’t become lazy
The minister has also lived abroad for a decade – half of it in the USA and the other half in Luxembourg. Expat life made him see things differently – mostly how one may take things (that work well) for granted living in Estonia – like even the simple, everyday mobile service of car parking that isn’t such a standard service in other countries.
“But we should be careful and not become lazy and think we are the best,” the minister said. “If you are the best, you either stay the best, or you’ll become 2nd or 3rd best.”
Anett Numa asked the IT minister why tiny Estonia has been so successful in digitalisation?
The minister said it was risk appetite that made Estonia develop quickly and skip some of the paper-based phases in the 1990s and early 2000s. “If you take risks, some things go wrong, but if you don’t take them, nothing happens. We should be more risk-taking than risk-averse,” the minister added.
Public-private partnerships to the rescue
The minister, naturally, admitted that today’s most critical task is to get the Covid-19 pandemic under control. “We should take the helping hand of the business community – to help out with logistics, or wherever it may be necessary,” the minister said.
What would help us now and soon to start getting out of this pandemic, Ms. Numa wondered. Minister Sutt was confident that one of the solutions where top Estonian tech companies are at work – electronic vaccination passports – would undoubtedly be of immense help.
The digital path will unfold
The minister also admitted that Covid-19 has accelerated trends. “It has disrupted the usual business value chains significantly. We need now an open mind, readiness to take risks, and creating an ecosystem that, from a legal angle, capital market side, innovation, and R&D would be conducive for people to test their ideas here. This will enable great ideas to pop up. If we keep Estonia an attractive location for foreign investment and talent to come, the digital path will unfold. Let’s not build obstacles on the way. Let’s remove them!”
To hear in more detail what Estonia’s IT minister shared in our very first podcast: