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Estonian govt brings its digital ID programme to SA

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Lauri Haav, MD of e-Residency.
Lauri Haav, MD of e-Residency.

The Estonian government has expanded its e-Residency digital ID initiative for entrepreneurs to SA, to accommodate the increase in digital nomads as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

Claimed to be the first digital residency initiative in the world, the e-Residency programme was introduced by the Estonian government in 2014.

Every e-Residency community member who has been issued an e-resident digital ID has a secure means of digital identification that grants them access to operate their business 100% online within the European Union. It also provides access to Estonia’s e-services, allows entrepreneurs to sign documents digitally, and assists them to launch and run their business fully online.

The programme is available in other parts of the world, reaching over 80 000 digital entrepreneurs since inception.

SA has been chosen as one of four new global destinations, to meet rising demands from local entrepreneurs who are seeking to scale their businesses internationally and expand into the European market.

Other new markets for the programme include Brazil, Singapore and Thailand.

During an online launch event yesterday, Lauri Haav, MD of theEstonian government’s e-Residency division, said SA has one of the highest numbers of e-Residency applicants in Africa and makes it into the list of top 50 application countries, alongside Brazil and Singapore.

Job uncertainty created by COVID-19 has inspired more individuals to start out on their own, making e-Residency an option for scaling businesses.

“Expanding our digital and physical network and empowering businesses is always top of mind for us, and this launch has been in the works for some time. Entrepreneurs, business owners and freelancers from all over the world have so much to offer, and we hope that making the process easier for joining e-Residency will encourage more of them to choose us to help grow their companies,” noted Haav.

The Estonian government has partnered with BLS International to issue e-Residency cards locally, with a new pick-up point opened in Johannesburg, at 191 Bekker Road, Vorna Valley, Midrand.

BLS is a global tech-enabled services partner for governments and citizens worldwide, specialising in issuing of visas, passports, consular, citizen, e-governance documents, biometric services and e-visas for over 46 governments.

“Although the global pandemic has limited our ability to travel, work and do business across borders, it has also accelerated digital transformation among governments, businesses and freelancers alike,” said Estonian president Kersti Kaljulaid.

“As more people choose to live and work without remaining tied to one place, there is increasing need for a location-free digital toolbox to support them. As the world’s first digitally transformed state, Estonia is pleased to be welcoming even more freelancers, entrepreneurs, business owners and location-independent workers from around the world to join our e-Residency programme.”

To apply for the e-Residency programme, visit the Web site.

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