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Former Prime Minister of Estonia Taavi Rõivas: Estonia’s solutions can complement Saudi Arabia’s transport

Estonia was the official Deep Tech partner of the tech conference LEAP 2024 held in Riyadh. On-ground at LEAP Taavi Rõivas, former Prime Minister of Estonia and currently a tech investor and entrepreneur, shared insights into Estonia’s digital transformation journey and its collaborative efforts with Saudi Arabia in the realm of deep technology.

Estonia is known across the globe for its digital-first government strategy. “e-Estonia” encompasses the digital society of Estonia, facilitating seamless interactions between its citizens and residents with the state through innovative ICT solutions.

Under this initiative, the country has developed a range of e-services, including the e-Tax Board, e-Business, e-Banking, e-Ticket, e-School, University via the internet, the e-Governance Academy, Internet-voting (e-Voting), and various mobile applications. Aligned with Estonia´s Digital Agenda 2030 , the nation aims excel in digital government services globally, ensure widespread connectivity, and establish a secure and reliable cyberspace by 2030.

What are Estonia’s deep tech partnership goals with Saudi Arabia and potential areas of collaboration shared Taavi Rõivas, former Prime Minister of Estonia and currently a tech investor, entrepreneur, and chairman of Auve Tech.

What key factors enabled Estonia’s successful digital transformation journey?

Estonia’s successful digital transformation journey can be attributed to several key factors. Firstly, we started early, almost 25 years ago, with the development of our digital government. Over the past two decades, we have digitalised most documents, and for the last decade, all government documents are digital by default. This early adoption has made digital processes a norm for Estonian citizens, allowing private sector companies to pursue excellence in digital transformation.

What role did Estonia play as the exclusive deep tech partner at LEAP 2024? And what expertise and resources did you bring to the event?

Our role as the exclusive deep tech partner at LEAP 2024 was significant and multifaceted. Firstly, Estonia has pioneered digital government services, establishing one of the most digitally advanced governments globally. Secondly, our country boasts a vibrant startup ecosystem, producing more unicorns per capita in Europe than any other country. Estonian startups have excelled in leveraging deep tech, transitioning from small tech startups to globally recognised entities. This wealth of experience and expertise in deep tech innovation is what we brought to the event, providing valuable insights and resources for attendees.

What are the goals of Estonia’s partnership in Saudi in the area of deep tech, and what are the potential areas of collaboration identified?

The aspirations outlined in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and National Digitalization Strategy share many similarities with our own digital transformation journey in Estonia. This creates a unique opportunity for us to exchange best practices and learn from each other’s successes and challenges. By fostering collaboration in deep tech, we can work together to achieve our shared goals of a more digital and interconnected future.

What specific innovations is Estonia proposing in the field of future transportation, like autonomous vehicles or smart traffic management?

Estonia has been at the forefront of autonomous vehicle development since legalising the technology in 2017. This progressive approach has led to exciting innovations such as last-mile delivery robots and a thriving ecosystem dedicated to autonomous driving. Our leading companies are actively developing state-of-the-art autonomous driving technology, including 3D mapping solutions, which hold immense potential for implementation in Saudi Arabia.

How can these innovations be implemented in Saudi Arabia, considering its unique infrastructure and needs?

The beauty of autonomous transportation solutions lies in their adaptability. While traditional deployment models might not be universally applicable, Saudi Arabia’s controlled environments like campuses, resorts, and special economic zones present ideal opportunities for implementing these technologies. Autonomous vehicles can function as efficient alternatives for short-distance travel or walking within these areas. Furthermore, our solutions can complement Saudi Arabia’s rapidly developing public transport network by providing seamless last-mile connectivity, bridging the gap between public transport hubs and final destinations.

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