South Africa among the elite e-Residency beneficiaries
Africa has South Africa to thank as the continent’s representative among the growing numbers of those pioneered in the world’s first digital residency initiative, which countries like Estonia are sampling. Aspiring e-Residents can now collect their digital identity cards from offices in Brazil, South Africa, Singapore and Thailand, said a statement from the government of Estonia.
Johannesburg in South Africa has been chosen as one of four new global destinations to meet rising demands from local entrepreneurs that are seeking to scale their businesses internationally and expand into the European market. As the epicentre for an 80,000-strong network of digital nomads, the announcement demonstrates Estonia’s continued commitment to empowering freelancers, entrepreneurs, business owners and location-independent workers from around the world.
The Estonian government’s e-Residency programme, pioneer of the world’s first digital residency initiative, announced the launch of four new international ‘pick-up points’ across three continents to accommodate for the increase in digital nomads as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In February 2020, Christelle Sidoine, a founder of Cape Town-based Easy Assistant, a company providing virtual and remote workforce services, became an e-resident to find better solutions for working with her clients abroad. “I was looking for a safe and reliable way to manage my business while working remotely with international clients.
The e-Residency programme gave me the tools to easily manage all my transactions online and since operating as a European entity, gain more trust within the EU market as a reliable partner. A new pickup point in Johannesburg will make e-Residency more accessible to both locals and temporary residents, who wish to keep their freedom of choice regarding where to reside, running a location-independent business,” says Christelle.
South Africa 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. The cities of São Paulo, Bangkok, Singapore and Johannesburg also met criteria set out by e-Residency which identified the regions as remote working ‘hotspots’; havens for start-up founders and borderless professionals that have emerged with increasing speed since the pandemic. Job uncertainty created by COVID-19 has also inspired more individuals to start out on their own, making e-Residency a brilliant option for scaling businesses.
Kersti Kaljulaid, the Estonian President, said: “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. 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 worlds’ 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.”
E-Residency is the Estonian government's first ‘start-up’ and since 2014, the programme has become internationally renowned for revolutionising how governments think about and interact with foreign entrepreneurs. With numbers of digital nomads estimated to be in the region of 5-10 million, the need for innovation in this space has only become more pressing.
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 Estonia’s e-services, lets them sign documents digitally, and launch and run their business 100% online from the European Union. The launch of four new pick-up points is indicative of the rising number of professional location-independent workers on an international scale, and demonstrates e-Residency’s commitment to increasing accessibility for those residing outside of Europe.
“We’re really excited about the announcement of our new pick-up point in South-Africa. 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.” says Lauri Haav, Managing Director at e-Residency.
The Estonian Government has partnered with BLS International to issue E-Residency cards in Singapore, Bangkok, Tokyo, and Johannesburg & Brazil. BLS is a trusted global tech-enabled services partner for governments and citizens worldwide having an impeccable reputation for setting benchmarks in the domain of visa, passport, consular, citizen, e-governance, attestation, biometric, e-visa and retail services with over 46 governments. A listed player in Indian market, BLS has scaled its services in over 66 countries. The company has expertise in handling similar projects with other governments globally.
Everyone can apply for this transnational government-issued digital identity and benefit from the e-Residency platform, which is built on inclusion, legitimacy and transparency.
E-Residency allows access to Estonia’s public e-services and a variety of e-services provided by international service providers, all part of Estonia’s X-Road, which links all public services together and enables each service to work in harmony. All outgoing data is digitally signed and encrypted, and all incoming data is authenticated and logged, meaning that e-Residents’ and other users of the X-Road’s data is completely secure. This provides the freedom to easily start and run a global EU company fully online from anywhere in the world.
According to proponents of the innovative project, “E-residents can: open a company within a day and run the company remotely, apply for a business banking account and credit card, conduct e-banking, use international payment service providers, declare taxes, and sign documents digitally. E-Residency does not provide citizenship, tax residency, physical residency or the right to travel to Estonia or EU.”
To Apply for e-Residency visit the website.