Estonia is establishing a Global Digital Society Fund to export its e-governance solutions on a global scale. The fund is initiated by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and will be managed by Enterprise Estonia in the form of e-Estonia Briefing Centre.
The fund has grown out of strong international interest in the digital governance solutions built and implemented in Estonia. According to the Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology, Rene Tammist, recent talks with several international experts have led to the creation of the fund. “There is strong interest in the Estonian e-state from governments as well as entrepreneurs around the world. International delegations come here every day to learn more about how to implement digital solutions in their countries,” said Tammist. The minister explained that an international fund with investments from bigger countries will support the global scalability of e-states.
The Estonian e-story is unique and fascinates the international community – e-solutions that are common in everyday lives in Estonia are still utopian to a large part of the world. For example, the digital signature has saved Estonia 2 % of the GDP, filing taxes online takes about 2 minutes, and healthcare relies on personal data among other things.
The President of Estonia, Kersti Kaljulaid, said in her speech that the Estonian digitally disrupted society stands out. “Estonia aims to build a fund to that can be used with little bureaucracy and which would be based on private funding. This would support countries that have a will to become digital, but lack knowledge and opportunity. It would not be good only for the reputation of Estonia, but also the economy. We have a unique experience and only sky’s the limit in sharing that – there is no point to aim lower,” added the head of state.
Priit Kongo, CEO of Estonian company Net Group said that establishing the new fund is greeted by Estonian companies. “It is a great initiative. The fund would need to focus on supporting a complete digital society, including law making, changes in processes, and technological solutions. What we have learned in Estonia can be shared with the world – this also supports the export of our IT companies.”
The Global Digital Society Fund will be established in 2020 in collaboration between the public and private sectors and it will be headquartered in Tallinn. The Estonian government will contribute 350 000 euros to create the fund and a further 5 million euro investment will be expected. Governments, as well as companies and other private entities, will be invited to contribute.
The next steps in the formation of the fund will be to hire a designated project manager. Liina Maria Lepik, Managing Director of the e-Estonia Briefing Centre, said, “The first order of business for the person heading the fund would be to start including co-founders and building the international expert panel to be part of the decision-making process.”
According to Minister Tammist, resources from the fund will only be available to countries who are able to contribute based on their financial development level. All future funding decisions will be made by an international panel of experts.