Digital Lessons Kenya Should Borrow from Estonia as President Kertsi Kaljulaid Tours the Country

Estonian President Kertsi Kaljulaid has said that Kenya has so much potential to leapfrog with the help of technology. The first-time female president who governs the world’s most advanced digital society is on her second-day tour and so far, she says she is impressed by efforts towards a digital-savvy state.

Estonia, a country located in northeastern Europe functions on a paperless system 30years after regaining its independence. According to the 51year old female president, citizens of Estonia did not have bank accounts, did not pay taxes, and had lost all its economic connections and this motivated them to do things differently from the Soviet Union…and that was going digital.

Fast forward, the country has digitized the National Identification, voting, schooling, insurance, travel documents, medical prescriptions, delivery services are done by robots among other digital perks. In short, the country runs on a paperless system.

A Leaf To Borrow

Grow a digital generation

Estonia was not as digitally savvy 20 years ago and President Kertsi Kaljulaid reckons that growing a digital generation has aided their strides towards a digital state. Bringing up a digital generation means entering newborn babies on an online register, from birth to vaccination, to other government services. This will eventually grow the national registry online within a period of 10years. Such a generation eradicates the traditional way of service delivery that is long queues and office appointments.

Merging Private And Public Sectors In Digital Service Delivery

Kenya’s public sector has been asked to consider borrowing the way of doing things from the private sector. The Estonian President says both sectors should not kill service delivery through irrelevant and unyielding competition but should instead merge to provide the best for citizens. If the private and public sector collaborates in making the society digitally savvy, individuals will be safe from service loopholes and will also be protected from online fraud since the system is encrypted on both ends and personal identity does not leak.

Reallocating Resources to Meaningful Projects

Being her first visit to Africa, President Kertsi Kaljulaid has said that there is a lot of pressure on her to establish an embassy in the country. Seeing that the country has a population of about 1.3 million, the state has only placed a few representatives in few cities across the world to act as ambassadors. In her reasoning, the Estonian head has said she does not see any need of spending Ksh 130Million annual budget on a couple of houses, 4 limousines, and 6 gentlemen acting as security. Instead, the money should be spent on development programs towards a smart Africa.

Online Government Services

Today, 99% of Estonian governmental services are online. In fact, the country does not have government offices. And if there are any, only necessary ones. On the other hand, Kenyan government offices that have set to go digital are currently running on partial digital services that require individuals to complete services in-person in offices situated across towns and cities. According to Estonia, running essential services fully on digital systems has economical benefits for the government and citizens

Digital Services Is Not a Solution To Corruption

Digital processes no matter how transparent are not a cure to corruption. Although these systems cut on the middleman, digital services without strong independent institutions only birth efficient criminals. She emphasizes that the police service and other policing institutions have to be strong and independent. With such in place, persons misusing government funds will be held accountable no matter how influential or popular they may be. She insists that the culture of governance can only be worked on by the people, not the technology they install.

Fierce And Free Media

In order to keep these strong institutions from political interference, a country requires free and independent media to watch over them. Through independent media, a society is able to protect institutions put in place. However, if media colludes with corrupt politicians and officials from these institutions, then eliminating corruption will only remain a dream.


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