Prime Minister Jüri Ratas met with Microsoft co-founder and former CEO Bill Gates on Thursday morning. They discussed possibilities to support Africa through research and development—and Ratas made Gates the latest celebrity e-resident in the government's trophy collection.
Three African projects of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation were discussed at the meeting. The projects concern clinical trials of vaccines, enhancing laboratory services and improving health care and using innovation to support the development of agriculture and climate goals in Africa.
The Gates Foundation is the United States' largest charity, with a current endowment of over $50 billion (about €43.4 billion, just shy of Estonia's adjusted gross domestic product). According to Ratas, all three of its African projects discussed in the meeting are of significant value to the development of the continent and the improvement of its citizens' lives, and they "merit consideration."
"Estonia can say from experience that digital skills and digital development are a cornerstone for sustainable development in today's world," Ratas commented, and pointed out that last year Estonia signed a memorandum of mutual understanding on e-governance with the African Union.
"Estonian digital businesses and experts are definitely ready to cooperate with the Gates Foundation as well," the prime minister stressed.
Estonia has contributed nearly €4.7 million to the development of Africa through the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa as well as other development and humanitarian aid projects.
Ratas and Gates also discussed cooperation and proposals for funding research and development out of the European Union's budget for 2021–2027. In their meeting, Gates also received his first government-backed digital identity from Ratas, making the software pioneer Estonia's latest celebrity e-resident.
Editor: Dario Cavegn