Under the motto “Giant leaps start with small steps,” the e-Governance Conference started today, replacing the customary physical location in Estonian capital Tallinn with the virtual space.

The conference is  organized by the e-Governance Academy, the pre-eminent  Estonian organization working in the field of digital transformation. The motto is evoking the famous Moon landing saying by astronaut Neil Armstrong.

The event is taking place online on 18-21 May 2020 at egovconference.ee. The conference is browser based, there is no need to download anything, and social media discussions run with the hashtag #EGOV2020.

Estonia is widely regarded as success story and a pioneer in the field of e-government use not only at the level of Eastern Europe, but European Union as a whole.

Arvo Ott, Executive Director of the e-Governance Academy. Screen capture from eGA web casting.

In his opening remarks, the Executive Director of the e-Governance Academy Arvo Ott explained that after Estonia gained independence, “Being a small country we had our discussion how technology can help us develop better society and build transparent government.” In 1993 this resulted in decision for central coordination of the  e-government implementation, which were initially led by him.

“We have learned that the main issue is not about technology… The main challenge is usually on organizational setup and cooperation between different government institutions,” noted Mr. Ott.

Linar Viik, Programme Director of Smart Governance at the eGA also noted that “If all complex private sector services are already online, why cannot the very clear and regulated government services be digital?”

Scheduled speakers at the conference include President of Estonia Ms Kersti Kaljulaid, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy of the African Union Commission Ms Amani Abou-Zeid, CIO of Estonian Government Mr Siim Sikkut, expert on technology trends and corporate innovation Mr David Rowan, and ministers and high-level government officials from more than 20 countries around the world.

Dragi Rashkovski, Secretary General of the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia is scheduled to participate in the Country Opinions Session, scheduled for May 19, 10:50 Tallinn time (GMT+3) or 09:59 Skopje time (CEST).

In the Balkans region, the e-Governance Academy is currently cooperating with the Metamorphosis Foundation from North Macedonia as partner on the ongoing project Increasing Civic Engagement in the Digital Agenda.