Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid: How digital technology has transformed my country


Estonian President Kersit Kaljulaid on Spice FM. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Visiting Estonian President Kersit Kaljulaid said nations succeed when they do things differently.

Appearing on Standard Group’s Spice FM morning show, The Situation Room, the head of state of the world’s most digitally transformed company said Estonia has succeeded in moving out of middle-income country for a country rich lower level.

This, by embracing digital technology while developing strong institutions.

Institutions, she said, guarantee freedom and people get creative with freedom.

“Thirty years ago, we regained our independence from the Soviet occupation, people did not have bank accounts and did not pay taxes,” she said.

The average monthly salary was Sh $ 30 (3,295), but now is $ 1,500 (Sh 195,000).

She said the government borrowed a leaf from the private sector, especially banks, which went online in 1994. The government has followed a similar strategy to its tax collection.

“In Estonia, we do not distinguish between the provision of services in the private sector and that in the public sector. Now public services are offered online, ”she said.

“There are no papers in our government. Everything is digital! she said, adding that every citizen uses a digital ID to access private and public services.

According to her, you can grow a digital generation in ten years.

Kenya, she said, was on the right digital path and her government and Estonian businesses were partnering with the public and private sectors.

She was of the opinion, however, that advances in digital technology could not stop vices such as corruption.

“Digital transformation alone cannot eliminate corruption. You will only have efficient criminals.

The answer to corruption, she said, was strong independent institutions – police that can arrest mayors, systems to suppress corrupt MPs and so on.

President Kaljulaid also said that a vibrant media is essential to tackle social ills.

She said establishing embassies in Africa was not a priority as her country was very small with a population of 1.3 million. In Kenya, the Eastern European nation is represented by an honorary consul.

“We don’t need to have a few houses [in foreign capitals] and four limousines, ”she said in response to interviewers.

Estonia, she explained, would prefer to spend the money on building and expanding partnerships with Africa.

Regarding her policy to encourage foreigners to work in Estonia (which employs 650,000 people) through electronic residence, she said the only problem was where workers were taxed and which citizens received social services from these taxes. .


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