Botswana ready to take on digitalisation with support of ESTDEV and partners

The European Union, together with the government of Botswana, aims to launch a new program to set up the prerequisites for a successful digital transition.


In October, representatives from ESTDEV, the Finnish Public Administration Institute HAUS, and Expertise France made their first joint visit to Botswana. Local partners provided an overview of the current situation, giving them the context needed to plan the project’s next steps.

In 2020, the government of Botswana prepared a national strategy for digital transition called SmartBots, which would provide the basis for digitisation in all sectors. The main goals of the SmartBots initiative are improving digital connections within the country, developing the digitisation of e-government and public services and creating an innovation ecosystem to support business.

“This is our first major project with international partners in Botswana. Botswana has already taken the first steps by creating the SmartBots initiative. Still, together with our partners, we hope to provide an even bigger push towards digitisation in Botswana,” said Nelli Timm, ESTDEV’s Regional Advisor for Africa.

Although Botswana is one of the newest target countries for Estonian development cooperation, Estonian companies have contributed to building Botswana’s e-state for many years. For example, Nortal has been working since 2017 to help build Botswana’s tax administration and revenue collection solution designed to increase revenue collection and reduce administrative burden.


Estonia’s priorities are supporting Botswana’s digital transition, which encompasses improvements to the business climate, digital services, data protection, cyber security, digital entrepreneurship, development of the startup ecosystem and e-government services.

“Botswana may have a long way to go, but the motivation is there. Now we must come to a common understanding with local parties on what needs to be done based on their needs because, ultimately, they are the users of this digital world,” said Andres Ääremaa, ESTDEV’s Programme Manager for Digital Transformation. “To begin, we can start by reviewing the country’s legal framework to enable smooth functioning of a digital government,” he added.

The project leader is Expertise France. ESTDEV brings to the project Estonia’s comprehensive experience and knowledge of digital development and e-governance, and HAUS has long-term experience in the capacity building of public administration. The European Commission has provided financing of five million euros.

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Estonian Centre for International Development is a government foundation that manages and implements Estonia’s participation in international development cooperation and humanitarian aid projects, with the aim of increasing Estonia’s contribution to global security and sustainable development.