Success Story – Estonia’s 20 years of Digital Transformation – The Digital Republic

When it comes to digital transformation and e-governance, Estonia is an example many countries look up to. Today, 99% of the nation’s public services are available 24/7, 30% of the population votes electronically and according to country estimates its reduced bureaucracy accounts for 844 years of working time. The recent UN e-government survey ranks Estonia among the 3 most digitally advanced countries from 193 member states for the year 2020. Unquestionably, Estonia has turned into a successful example of a resilient and digital society for the whole world. Wondering what’s behind the success story? Then Keep Reading.

Steps to Digitalization

Estonia started the journey to digitalization in the late 1990s, the times when the internet was just becoming the mainstream. The earliest initiatives focused on government efficiency and what outcome digital services could bring. In 2000, the Estonian Government committed to transform society digitally. Consequently, started rolling out internet connections across the whole country. Moreover, the nation declared the internet as a human right in 2001.

As a result of such a commitment, we see the Estonian cabinet being fully paper-less, demonstrating one of the most advanced digital governance models in the whole world. In 2014 Estonian Government announced an E-residency program under governmental startup providing access to investors worldwide to access a transparent and resilient digital business environment. E-residency suggested a revolutionary way for business people to run their company from anywhere, entirely online. Foreseeably, the scheme generated substantial economic benefits for the country and the gain is estimated to be over 1 Bln. Euros. Besides, Estonia has been an innovator and change-maker for online-voting and digital identity as well.

Estonia has also become renowned for liberal regulations in the field of tech research. It is legal to test Level 3 driverless cars on all Estonian roads, and the country is purposeful to extend it to level 5 soon. As per Estonia’s deputy secretary for economic development “They believe that innovation happens anyway, and if they close themselves towards it, innovation can happen somewhere else”. 


Estonia can be considered as the only country where 99% of public services are available online at any time, except for marriage, divorce, and real estate transactions. The nation has full access to over 3000 public services that are transformed into flexible e-solutions. Thanks to such a well-arranged digital ecosystem, the country has reached unparalleled levels of government transparency and trust.


The digital ecosystem of Estonia has proved to be extremely resilient to emergencies. The live proof is being demonstrated in these trying times of Covid19. For example, the Estonian government had already planned for education digitalization in 2015 and was about to finish transformation by 2020. Such a pre-arrangement turned out to be extremely beneficial while dealing with distant learning solutions. Therefore, the country has to struggle a lot less with Coronavirus fallout compared to its peers. Exactly due to high levels of digitalization, Estonia needs to undergo relatively minor disruption.

See the Program on E-Governance in Estonia


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