Estonia and Ukraine to develop e-states together ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

President Kersti Kaljulaid and President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky at the Digital Society Sandbox launch in Tallinn.
President Kersti Kaljulaid and President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky at the Digital Society Sandbox launch in Tallinn. Source: Mattias Tammet/Office of the President

Collaborations between digital enterprises and the public sector to jointly develop e-governance between Estonia and Ukraine were launched on Tuesday with a series of events called a 'Digital Society Sandbox'.

The events were initiated by President Kersti Kaljulaid and the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, and kicked off in Tallinn during Zelensky's one-day visit to Estonia.

The cooperative projects will run for three years, during which regular hackathons and discussion forums will be held. The council who initiated the project includes representatives from both Estonia and Ukraine.

The objective is to use direct, creative and efficient cooperation to build a network comprising start-up ecosystems, IT entrepreneurs, heads of state and the presidents' advisory councils.

The events will be held alternately in Ukraine and Estonia and experts and enterprises are welcome to participate. Both Estonia and Ukraine have previously benefited from e-governance hackathons, and this serves as an antecedent for creating a joint development hub.

"The initiative from Estonia and Ukraine to start a digital society sandbox is most valuable for helping us jointly understand what it means for public services to be digital," Kaljulaid said. "Many countries have developed public e-services, but opening them up to the private sector is unheard of. Now, we have two states with the same understanding of the concept. Estonia has a global market and reputation but lacks the force to meet a large demand; Ukraine has the necessary workforce and great ideas. Additionally, Ukraine can build its e-state using technology that is 15 years ahead of what we started out with in Estonia."

President Kersti Kaljulaid speaking at the Digital Society Sandbox launch in Tallinn. Source: Mattias Tammet/Office of the President

Zelensky said: "Adopting e-services not only frees people from unnecessary bureaucracy, it also helps fight corruption and make the state more reliable. Our new government highly values this project. We have been working double speed the past few months and within this time, we have passed 82 new acts helping to improve the entrepreneurial climate in Ukraine and combat corruption. Estonia has a similar experience from the 1990s and Mart Laar´s government. Radical changes in Ukraine do require radical steps forward – fighting corruption, promoting e-health and digitalising the state." 

The states' cooperation is mostly focused on improving mobile device and digital skills to make the e-state available everywhere and to everyone in Ukraine. Servicing people via mobile phones also requires that significant changes be made to existing services, since a smartphone screen is much more demanding in terms of user experience compared to other channels. At the same time, new technology shapes processes in the public sector so that people have access to better, faster and more precise services.

The memorandum of cooperation signed by the digital development ministers of Ukraine and Estonia creates a framework for innovation as well as for taking practical steps towards improvement. The first example of this is the Digital Society Sandbox initiative.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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