By joining the Digital Public Goods Alliance (DPGA) earlier this year, Estonia lends its expertise to a multi-stakeholder initiative, tasked to accelerate the achievement of sustainable development goals (SDGs) in low- and middle-income countries, through investments and deployment of digital public goods (DPGs).
“International development cooperation is centred on the premise that the global community supports low- and middle-income countries in adapting and implementing proven solutions in a cost-effective and scalable way in order to leapfrog development. Investing in DPGs and supporting their implementation in our partner countries is a key instrument for advancing digital development globally,” Karin Maasel, Head of the Africa and Emerging Markets Department at ESTDEV, said.
DPGs are open-source software – open data, open AI models, open standards, and open content – that can be used to build equitable systems for service delivery to citizens and help achieve SDGs at large. Estonia has made significant contributions to the development of DPGs over the years. E-Estonia’s backbone, the X-Road, an open-source software solution that provides secure data exchange between organisations, has already been added to DPGA’s digital public goods registry. “The X-road has the potential to contribute to the attainment of numerous SDGs, including reducing the incidence of poverty worldwide, boosting the transition towards cleaner energy systems, and supporting industry, innovation and infrastructure,” Karin Maasel said.
The Estonian Government is also currently developing an open source AI solution Bürokratt to offer citizens even more personalised support when accessing both public and private digital services, using voice-interactive virtual assistant.
“Developing and deploying open source software requires not only the engagement but true leadership of multiple stakeholders – from private to public sector and NGOs. We need to ensure that the private sector sees the business case in developing open source software; we need a system to keep these technologies up-to-date and we need to be able to ensure a principled use of tech in development settings,” said Karin Maasel.
ESTDEV Officially Endorses Principles for Digital Development
ESTDEV is committed to implementing digital solutions for improved development outcomes, guided by key principles. ESTDEV has now officially endorsed the Principles for Digital Development, a set of standards that helps practitioners succeed in applying digital technologies to development programs.
“While digitalisation provides valuable tools to fast-track development outcomes, if not done well, it can also erode important safety nets and values within societies. It is for this reason that we as ESTDEV follow internationally agreed-upon principles, including privacy and security considerations and the importance of designing solutions with the user in mind,” adds Karin Maasel.
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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.