Many international political leaders have followed in Estonia’s footsteps and committed to digital transformation plans for their own country. According to Prime Minister of France, Edouard Philipe, France aims to achieve an Estonian e-governance level within 5 years.
By dedicating his first official trip as Prime Minister to the tiny Baltic country, Edouard Philippe has sent strong messages regarding the digital transformation of France, writes Le Parisien. He emphasizes that Estonian reality is France’s goal of e-administration by 2022.
But what is Estonian reality? What has Estonia, a member of the European Union since 2004, achieved in such a short time to become a global model for e-government?
The digital identity card, the cornerstone of e-Estonia
In this small country of 1.3 million people, more than 2,600 public services are available online. All this is possible thanks to the country’s digital identity card. Each Estonian citizen carries a national ID smart card which is equipped with an electronic chip. The chip on the card carries embedded files that by using 2048-bit public key encryption, enable it to be used as definitive proof of an ID in any electronic environment. The individual’s ID card can be used for numerous purposes, for example, digital signatures, accessing government databases, electronic voting, pre-paid transport and logging into bank accounts, to mention only a few.
In addition to streamlining and simplifying administrative procedures for citizens, “the widespread use of e-signatures would save 2% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP)”, says Le Monde.
But a “digital revolution” will not happen without a high-speed broadband connectivity throughout the country. According to a Brussels study in 2016, France still lags behind Estonia, with only 45% against 71% of Estonian households covered by high-speed connectivity, recalls Le Parisien. Which ranks France twenty-sixth among the twenty-eight member states of the European Union!
The newly appointed Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, said that he wants to guarantee “access to high-speed broadband, at the latest, by 2022 throughout France”.
High-speed broadband connectivity is not the only difficulty to overcome in arriving at the same level as Estonia. The French Prime Minister has personally stated that in France there are people who do not yet have access to GPS, the telephone is used for making calls and that’s all. There are citizens who are alienated or ignored by this technological world. The gap is growing and it is not only generational, it is social, and sometimes geographical.
According to the Prime Minister, France should consider what Estonia has done to help its citizens adopt this digital revolution: by developing public Wi-Fi throughout the country; installing free connectivity in libraries and schools; and “training” its “disconnected” population via free courses.
Read the full article in the Le Parisien News: “Révolution numérique : ce qui attend la France si elle copie l’Estonie“.