Africa-Press – Botswana. President Mr Alar Karis of Estonia is in the country (Monday, March 4) at the invitation of President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi.

President Karis and his delegation are due to arrive at the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport to start a four-day state visit, commencing on Monday until departure on Thursday.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the state visit will allow Botswana and Estonia to strengthen bilateral relations and explore areas of cooperation.

Botswana, which established diplomatic ties with Estonia in 2003 cooperates with the European Union (EU) member state on information communication technology (ICT), digital transformation and e-taxation.

In a press release, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs further noted that Estonia has made remarkable progress in transforming into one of the world’s most digitally advanced societies, boasting Europe’s most start-ups per capita with successful companies such as Skype, Bolt and Wise, and 99 per cent of public services available online.

Located by the Baltic Sea in Europe, bordering Latvia to the south, Russia to the east, and across the sea from Sweden to the west and Finland to the north, Estonia is reputed to be a modern democracy and is ranked by the World Bank as a high-income country.

Currently ranked 31 out of 191 countries by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Index (HDI), which calculates the standard of living in countries using a measure of per capita income, life expectancy and education, Estonia has attained good quality of life for its citizens since attaining independence from Russia in 1991.

The country has also consistently been ranked high by international agencies on democratic governance, press freedom and digitisation.

A small nation of 1.4 million people, Estonia has historically worked to assert its territorial integrity and sovereignty, and has been ruled at separate periods by neighbouring Swedish monarchs and was later invaded by Tsar Ivan the Terrible of Russia.

After a brief period of independence from Russia between 1919 and 1940, Soviet Russia under Josef Stalin annexed Estonia, which later regained independence as a modern republic in 1991 after the fall of the Iron Curtain.

Estonia quickly established itself as a parliamentary democracy and a thriving economy, with oil energy, telecommunications, banking, food, fisheries, timber and electronics as key sectors of the economy. With a gross domestic product (GDP) purchasing power parity of US$ 46 385 in 2023, Estonia is ranked number 40 in the world by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The country has held democratic elections since independence in 1991 and President Karis, who assumed office in October 2021 is the country’s sixth president.

A former university professor, President Karis also served as the Auditor General of Estonia and Director of the Country’s National Museum prior to being elected president. In Botswana, President Karis will discuss with President Masisi the establishment of Botswana-Estonia Political Consultations and the deepening of bilateral ties and multilateral cooperation.

He is further expected to participate in a panel discussion on digitalisation and to conduct site visits to the Botswana Digital and Innovation Hub, and the Diamond Technology Park.

President Karis will be accompanied by First Lady, Ms Sirje Karis, senior government officials and a business delegation due to explore trade and investment opportunities in Botswana.

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