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Cybernetica to develop interoperability framework in Kenya


Cybernetica Kenya x-road ESTDEV
Cybernetica won the nearly 300,000 euro public tender to develop an interoperability framework in collaboration with Kenyan government agencies.

This tender is part of a larger international project to promote digitalisation in Kenya by supporting the creation of an open and cohesive digital society, funded by the German Development Cooperation Agency (GIZ).

According to Cybernetica’s proposal, the interoperability test environment will include two e-services, which will be decided within the project’s framework. By implementing the interoperability framework, Kenya’s public sector will be able to create citizen-centric e-services, implement good e-governance practices and improve public sector capacity.

Maksim Ovchinnikov, the head of Cybernetica's data exchange technologies department, says this project will allow both parties to learn from each other. "The plan is cooperation based on symbiosis, not theoretical workshops on how to properly build an e-state. We are getting to know Kenya's public administration and, accordingly, adapting the solutions that work in Estonia to these specifics," Ovchinnikov said.

In addition to being an ESTDEV priority country, Kenya is strategically important for Cybernetica. "Although we have already launched several successful solutions in Africa, such as in Benin, Kenya has opened new doors for us in sub-Saharan Africa. We are very proud that we can contribute to the development of countries with e-government solutions that work in Estonia," Ovchinnikov added.

"Estonia's success in digital development and e-governance, as well as a strong education system and start-up ecosystem, allows us to create and design solutions that fit the context and aspirations of Africa. Estonia can contribute to sustainable development in Africa by working closely with local partners to create solutions suitable for each country’s unique situation," said Katrin Winter, head of the African region at ESTDEV.

The largest e-service implementation project in Africa to date

ESTDEV’s largest foreign-funded project to date supports Kenya's human-centred digital development, where activities—including the current procurement—are primarily financed by a foreign donor, such as the German Development Cooperation Agency (GIZ) in this case. The cooperation agreement signed by ESTDEV and GIZ in May 2023 follows Team Europe’s framework for implementing European initiatives through the Digital Transformation Centre in Kenya. Estonia will manage this 2.4-million-euro project, providing nearly 13 per cent of the total funds, while GIZ provides the balance.

“ESTDEV is responsible for managing the entire 2.4 million. NGOs, experts, and private and public sector entities in Estonia will have the opportunity to participate in this project through public tenders. Not only will this increase Estonia’s profile as a development cooperation partner in Kenya, but it will also boost our reputation internationally as a digital nation, which will benefit our economy in the long run," said Andres Ääremaa, ESTDEV's programme manager for digital transformation.

In 2022, GIZ, the e-Governance Academy and ESTDEV completed the Kenya Digital Readiness Study. This study highlighted a lack of interoperability between systems as the biggest challenge facing Kenya’s digital transformation. The team also identified a need to increase the capacity of digital governance within institutions. Based on this study, the EU, GIZ and ESTDEV have focused their partnership on four key areas: developing an interoperability framework for e-governance, piloting user-friendly e-services, promoting dialogue between government agencies and training officials working in the public sector.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs formulated Estonia's development policy goals in Africa in the Africa Regional Strategy 2021-2025. In August 2020, Estonia and Kenya signed a memorandum of understanding on digital cooperation. According to the aforementioned guidelines, ESTDEV will prepare implementation plans and participate in international initiatives with other EU member states.

The project activities are carried out as part of a project financed by GIZ commissioned by the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany and cofinanced by Germany and the EU.