The Estonian Center for International Development Cooperation (ESTDEV) has begun a tender process for a company which would aid the government of the East African nation of Kenya to boost that country's IT systems, and with a view to providing citizen oriented e-services similar to those on offer in Estonia.
The public procurement tender, launched November 16, is worth €300,000 to the Estonian state.
Andres Ääremaa, head of digital development at ESTDEV, told ERR that the project is an international one, financed not only by his organization, but also by the EU and by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Germany's primary development agency.
ESTDEV is also implementing the project.
"The entire project budget comes to €2.4 million, of which €2.1 million is overseas co-funding plus €300,000 domestic Estonian funding," Ääremaa said.
Ääremaa said the project is intended to help empower a citizen-centric e-governance in Kenya, and in addition to creating a framework for interoperability via the tender which has commenced, the Kenyan public sector will be supported via the creation of three citizen-centric e-services, introducing e-governance best practices and cultivating their capabilities.
These will utilize the Estonian X-Road (X-tee) data exchange layer, which facilitates a secure Internet-based data exchange between IT systems
Funds to be spent on this X-tee procurement are stipulated in the grant agreement signed with GIZ. Within this newly initiated public procurement, the cost is set at €470,000, though Ääremaa stressed this is a maximum ceiling, adding that the actual figure will be revealed after the tenders are made public.
"This is the largest e-service implementation project, for ESTDEV, in Africa. To make it a success, we are working closely with Kenyan government agencies, the EU delegation in Kenya, international donors (ie. GIZ) and the Estonian Information Technology and Telecommunications Union," he added.
Ääremaa added that data exchange solutions based on X-tee are already in use in several African countries, adding there are also good examples of e-government IT systems under development by private sector Estonian firms in Africa, for example the Cybernetica, in Namibia.
"Estonia's reputation and image in Africa is strong, so in the course of this project we will be opening up avenues for Estonian firms to enter the Kenyan or African market, or to further expand their existing operations there," he continued.
Based on these guidelines, ESTDEV is preparing implementation plans and is taking part in international initiatives, together with development agencies from other EU member states.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has formulated Estonia's development policy goals in Africa in its African regional strategy 2021-2025, while digital cooperation with Kenya is based on a memorandum of understanding on digital cooperation signed in August 2020.
Among other things, the providers of the tender launched last week must
Tender winners of the procurement which started last week must among other tasks map pilot project participants and select its scenarios, set up a draft interoperability framework and a sample catalog of IT systems and services, implement a data exchange test environment plus at least two sample services, and provide training to a central authority, which should ensure the sustainability of the data exchange platform.
The contractor must undertake to implement the project in close cooperation with the Kenyan users, i.e. the country's IT ministry, its central institutions and owners of the services participating in the test, project financiers, and the Nairobi-based Kenyan office of ESTDEV, in order to ensure contacts with local authorities and the involvement of recipients.
Editor: Karin Koppel, Andrew Whyte