Mr. Hannes Hanso, a member of the Advisory Committee of the President of Estonia, a Member of Estonian Parliament and the Chairman of the National Defence Committee, continued his visit to the Southern African region with a stay in the Kingdom of eSwatini on 27-30 January 2019. In 2018, the former Kingdom of Swaziland changed its name to eSwatini, resulting in the fact that Estonia and eSwatini are now neighbors in the seating arrangement at the United Nations. The small country of eSwatini is situated in the southern tip of Africa and is similar to Estonia with reference to its size and number of population. Diplomatic relations between eSwatini and Estonia were established in 2018. eSwatini has expressed interest towards e-governance and e-services and have also turned to Estonia for possible cooperation.
The delegation, including Mr. Hanso, Mr. Margus Kolga, Ambassador-at-Large for the United Nations issues and Kaisa Mitt-Alvarez, Estonian diplomat, met with eSwatini’s Prime Minister Mr. Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini; Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ms. Thulisile Dladla and Minister for ICT HRH Princess Sikhanyiso. Additionally, the delegation visited the Royal Science and Technology Park and the head of the EU delegation in eSwatini, Ms. Esmeralda Hernandez Aragones. The main topic discussed was the Estonian candidature to UN Security Council, which eSwatini, as a small state, could support. During the conversations with Prime Minister Dlamini and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Dladla, the position of small states in the world was discussed, as more cooperation between small states is needed, both bilaterally and in the margins of International organisations. UN Security Council reform was also raised, as African states would wish to see greater representation of African states in the council, including in the form of a permanent member.
The Estonian delegation introduced to Princess Sikhanyiso Estonia’s development as an e-state and different e-services available. It is a part of the vision of the King of eSwatini to modernise and digitalise the country and to introduce a variety of e-services. This topic is therefore among the priorities for eSwatini. This is also the rationale why eSwatini wishes to exchange experiences and learn from other countries that have gone through similar processes. The delegation of Estonia emphasised the importance of the “Tiger leap” project in the development of e-governance in Estonia, as the development of an e-state begins with education and skills, and rests upon the trust of the population.
MP Hanso invited Princess Sikhanyiso to participate in the Estonian e-governance conference, that will take place in May 2019. “Estonia is known for its success in establishing an e-state. The experience in e-governance and the quality of Estonian e-services has created a strong image of Estonia. It is our goal to share our experience, so that others could also benefit and enhance the e-society in their countries”, said MP Hanso.