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Cablegate: Estonia Shares E-Governance with World

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R 031337Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY TALLINN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0264
INFO EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TALLINN 000390

SIPDIS
DEPT FOR EUR/ACE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL EAID EN
SUBJECT: Estonia Shares E-Governance with World

1. Summary: Estonia certainly is an e-state. It has been one of
the world's leading users of information and communication
technology (IT) in the fields of government, banking and social
responsibility (such as e-tax filing and voting on the internet).
According to the World Economic Forum, Estonia ranks 18th
worldwide, and leads in Central and Eastern Europe, in the
Networked Readiness Index. Estonia is now making this expertise a
cornerstone of its foreign assistance. The GOE, with the United
Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Open Society Institute,
established in 2002 a regional e-Governance center -- the
e-Governance Academy (EGA). The EGA is a non-governmental
organization that trains politicians, specialists and
representatives of the third sector to increase government
efficiency and improve democratic processes through building open
information societies. The EGA focuses its work on the former
Soviet republics, Southern and Eastern Europe, and Asia. The GOE
is interested in partnering with the United States to e-development
projects. End summary.

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e-Governance Academy

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2. The EGA is a non-profit organization that runs projects
commissioned by Estonian and international donors. The EGA shares
Estonia's extensive e-governance experience with other countries,
but has also become something of an IT clearinghouse, by collecting
e-governance experiences from around the world. National wealth is
not an issue: EGA points out that Estonia has built strong
e-governance despite a per capita GDP that is only one-third the EU
average. EGA has four major areas of operations: local
e-governance, e-democracy, central e-governance, and IT-based
education. EGA's mission is to train and advise governments and
civil societies in the use of technology to promote government
efficiency, enhance civil society, and improve democratic
processes.

3. The academy has run projects in both the developing and
developed world, in countries ranging from Afghanistan, Armenia,
and Iraq, to Great Britain and Japan. In all, EGA has operated in
25 countries and provided training to over 500 people. This year
the MFA is funding a project in the West Bank to implement
e-governance and e-services for Palestinians. A team of Estonian
experts visited the West Bank in July, and 20 Palestinians came to
Estonia for a week's training at EGA in September. Other projects
in 2009 included a training program for African officials in
Switzerland on the provision of e-services and cyber security,
assisting the Macedonia Land Board, sharing best practices with
Albania and Montenegro, e-governance training in Iraq, and
assisting with building an e-training facility in Crimea. EGA will
also shortly provide training on information systems to the Afghan
parliament. EGA programs are funded by a variety of sources,
including the GOE, UNDP, Soros Foundation, European Commission,
World Bank, and foreign governments and institutions.

4. In addition to training and consulting activities, the EGA has
been active in promoting the use of free and open software,
particularly in the public sector, and is developing methodologies
and guidelines for the reduction of corruption using IT. EGA is
also active in promoting data security and privacy protection.

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Seeking USG Partnership

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5. Estonia is an active participant in global development
assistance. It has been successful in rebuilding a democratic
state and society at home, and now is sharing its reform
experiences and practical knowledge with partner countries.
Estonia's priority development assistance partners are Afghanistan,

TALLINN 00000390 002 OF 002


Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. Sharing its own e-governance
experience, through EGA projects, has been a major aspect of
Estonian assistance. Besides bilateral co-operation, Estonia seeks
opportunities for trilateral cooperation with other donor countries
to leverage its assistance resources. MFA contacts have indicated
a strong interest in collaborating with the Unites States.
Trilateral projects have already taken place in co-operation with
Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Canada and the United Kingdom (supporting
Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia). The EGA plays an important role not
only in implementing development assistance projects, but also
plays an important role in drafting Estonia's development
assistance policy.

6. Comment: The USG and Estonia share an interest in promoting
transparent, democratic governance and strong civil societies, and
are focused on many of the same priority countries. Estonia lacks
resources, but can bring to the table strong first-hand reform
experience and the credibility that comes from having successfully
undertaken reform. Its experience in e-governing is moreover
considerable, and the EGA already has a track record in many parts
of the world. Partnering with Estonia in trilateral development
assistance could be an effective means of leveraging U.S.
development resources.
DECKER

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