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Estonia to support Kenya’s digital govt pursuits with $324K investment

Estonia to support Kenya’s digital govt pursuits with $324K investment

An Estonian government-funded organization – the Estonian Center for International Development Cooperation (ESTDEV) — recently launched a tender for a contract that seeks to give traction to the Kenyan government’s digital transformation agenda by introducing customer-focused digital services.

The contract, to the tune of €300,000 (US$324,000), will be awarded to a company that will assist in the development of digital government services and the implementation of the East African nation’s new digital ID project, ERR reports. The tender was launched on November 16.

Plans were already far advanced for Kenya’s new digital ID project launch before it was paused by a High Court ruling.

The Estonian investment, according to ESTDEV head of digital development Andres Ääremaa, is being done in collaboration with the European Union and GIZ, the government organization spearheading Germany’s international development assistance programs.

The project, which also has funding of about €2.1 million (US$2.2 million) from other international partners, is intended to build a digital government ecosystem which puts the citizen at the centre of it all. It will be built on Estonia’s X-Road system, which has already been deployed in a number of African countries, including Namibia. The system facilitates data sharing and interoperability among government institutions.

“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,” ERR quotes Ääremaa as saying of the project.

The official also said the contract marks a new opportunity for Estonian companies to enter not only Kenya, but the East African market as a whole given the Northern European country’s tech image and reputation in Africa. ERR notes that private-sector firms from Estonia have also found opportunities in Africa, like Cybernetica’s work on interoperability in Namibia.

Estonia’s ambassador-at-large for Africa, Daniel Schaer, says that if negotiations with Kenya’s government are successful, Estonian businesses would help make the national digital ID interoperable across government agencies, reports TechCabal.

This latest contract is a signal that the digital cooperation which Estonia has had with Kenya over the years is on a good footing. In 2020, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding in this regard, and since then, Estonian technology and startups have been increasingly finding space in Kenya’s digital ecosystem, per TechCabal.

The outlet notes that thanks to the collaboration which Estonia enjoys with Kenya, an Estonian tech initiative dubbed Latitude59, was hosted in Kenya this month for the first time it came to Africa since its launch in 2012.

Estonia’s move to support Kenya’s digital ID and digital government efforts is in line with the country’s 2021-2025 action plan, which is part of its 2020-2030 cooperation with African countries.

During a visit to Kenya in 2021, Estonia’s President Kersti Kaljulaid praised Kenya’s digital ID efforts with the Huduma Namba at the time.

Other countries such as Mongolia are also benefiting from Estonia’s support in their digital transformation journeys.

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