In her visit to the ongoing 24th World Energy Congress 2019 at Abu Dhabi Exhibition Center on Tuesday, the Estonian President Ms. Kersti Kaljulaid highlighted that 99% of her country's jobs are online. The president emphasized the digital achievements of Estonia and the UAE and suggested that both the countries can work together to help other countries in entering the digital revolution.
"Between governments, we can work together in development aid and, for example, help African countries leapfrog in using digital technologies," she said. When asked to comment on trade relations and investment opportunities between the UAE and Estonia, Kaljulaid encouraged business-to-business investments. She noted her country's trade representative office, Enterprise Estonia, which recently opened in Dubai.
Estonia is also set to open a new embassy in Abu Dhabi this summer as well as participate in Expo 2020 Dubai. According to the UAE Ministry of Economy statistics, total non-oil trade between the two countries reached US$75.8 million in 2018. Commenting on the role the two countries' governments can play in further bolstering trade ties, Kaljulaid said, "There are various ways to cooperate, but in true Estonian spirit, we leave it to free and open markets to do most of the work. Governments can only set the legal space that allows new technologies to come in, at the same time regulate and protect investors, end-users, and the capital gains, which companies are reaping."
When asked about Estonia's digitisation of government services and the impact of disruptive technologies on the energy industry, the President noted that 99 per cent of government services in her country are available online. "Estonia is very strong in e-governance and our public e-services, but of course these services can work for business-to-business as well," she said. Kaljulaid further added, "All our service departments start with a secure and assured digital ID."
Estonia was named in 2017 by American technology magazine 'Wired' as "the most advanced digital society in the world." Every Estonian is issued a digital ID that can be used for banking and to vote, pay taxes and access healthcare records. Talking about disruptive technologies, such as blockchain, the President explained that the Estonian government utilises Keyless Signature, KSI, infrastructure, "a method tried and tested for time-stamped signatures, giving you the exact same level of services like various other blockchain technologies but with an advantage that it is low in energy consumption."
According to 'E-Estonia', KSI is a blockchain technology designed in Estonia and used globally to "make sure networks, systems and data are free of compromise, all while retaining 100 per cent data privacy." The President also noted the importance of data integrity. "Data can be forwarded from peer to peer, companies to people, and also between government and citizens, this data transfer needs to be in a trustworthy format," she said. "Estonian people, as a society, are very used to having this kind of government providing a protected ecosystem of safe services and blockchain ... if the government makes promises to people that data is secure in their hands, this with blockchain technologies, can really be guaranteed," she concluded.
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(Siddheshwar Shukla and Neeraj Singh Mehta, Team Devdiscourse from Abu Dhabi)