July 2, 2022

Estonia’s President encourages CARICOM to provide secure digital identities for its people with the help of private-public partnership

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Her Excellency Kersti Kaljulaid- FILE

February 26th, 2019
 Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, the current Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), is presiding over the 30th Inter-sessional Meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government.  The meeting is being held today (February 26th) and tomorrow at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort and Royal Beach Casino.

The President of Estonia, Her Excellency Kersti Kaljulaid, who is the special guest, addressed the 30th Inter-sessional Meeting this afternoon.  H.E. Kersti Kaljulaid’s engaging presentation focused on how her country undertook the necessary development to become a digital society. 

“Most governments are not providing their citizens with digital identities,” the President of Estonia said, adding, “In the digital sphere, it is government’s business to provide secure identification.”

Estonia’s President also said, “We have to connect each other.” H.E. Kersti Kaljulaid continued, “First advice to CARICOM: Do it together!  Have a single, strong, digital CARICOM identity…whichever technology (e.g. blockchain) you choose, do it together; as long as it is secure.”

One of the important steps she said Estonia made was to create the necessary legal space. “Technology is safer than paper, but you still need legal space to protect it as well.”

H.E. Kersti Kaljulaid said that, by tapping into technology, Estonia was able to tap into services that made the society more efficient. 

“If people can apply for social services online, at least they don’t have to go into offices to queue [stand in line],” Estonia’s President said.

H.E. Kersti Kaljulaid noted that productivity gains, such as improved service levels, were achieved in Estonia through private-public partnership.

The Estonian President went on to describe how Estonia was able to link crucial information about people and create a life-saving database.  “If you find someone lying on the street in a coma, you can easily identify them,” she said, explaining the significance of having digital medical records.  

H.E. Kersti Kaljulaid also discussed the data protection layer that Estonia added.  For instance, the Estonian President said the system registers the names of persons who log in, and patients are kept abreast of who (e.g. their doctors) checked their information.  “If I see someone was in there [my digital medical file], I can ask why they were in there,” Estonia’s President said, adding, “We have to justify.” 

As for St. Kitts and Nevis, Prime Minister Harris’ Team Unity administration has made significant strides in modernizing the Government’s technology infrastructure. 

The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis has been engaged in a process of digitizing medical records for in-patients and out-patients who are seen at the nation’s four hospitals, as well as its 17 health centres.  The Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) is providing technical assistance and grant funding.

The Team Unity Government has also rolled out a number of useful mobile applications (apps), including one for the public to access news and information from the St. Kitts and Nevis Information Service (SKNIS). 

On the most recent ICT Development Index, St. Kitts and Nevis ranks #37 out of 176 countries listed.  It is the top-ranked country in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the number two-ranked within CARICOM behind Barbados, which comes in at #34 on the index. 

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