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Speeches, 5/14/2003

Opening address of Mr Risto Rekola: Seminar on Internet Based Services for eGovernment

Digital Finland presents the Finnish Model, Seminar on Internet Based Services for eGovernment and Business, Dubai May 5 and Abu Dhabi May 6, 2003


The official Finland is present in the UAE since early 80´s.In the course of these years the UAE has become the most important single trading partner for Finland in the Gulf region at least when you look at the Finnish Foreign Trade Statistics.

At the same time Finland has developed into one of the most advanced countries in the field of ICT. Traditionally Silicon Valley has been considered the model that societies should imitate to succeed in the information age.

In recent years, people have started talking of the Finnish Model that has attracted wide spread international interest.
The model has been analyzed by Dr Castels and Dr Himanen in a book called “The Information Society and the Welfare State: The Finnish Model”, published by Oxford University Press. See the foodnote for a short summary.

The model started taking shape in early 90s with the strategic corporate decisions taken by the emerging new Nokia that later at the turn of the Millenium became the world leader both in Mobile Phone Handsets as well as Mobile Phone Networks Industries

Later in mid 90s the Finnish PM and the Government made a firm and important political commitment by drafting and adopting the principles of a Long Term National Strategy to set the Information Society as a National Goal.

Basically there were five major guidelines that were adopted, which are as follows:

  • Information technology and information networks as tools in private and public sector renewal
  • Information industry to become an important future sector of economic activity in Finland
  • Professional expertise in information and communication technology to be maintained at high overall level, with selected peaks
  • Everyone to have the opportunity and basic skills to use the services of the Information Society
  • Finnish information structure to be competitive and capable of providing high quality-services

    In 1998 the Finnish National Fund for Research and Development (SITRA) published a document entitled: “Quality of Life, Skills and Competitiveness”, which deals with the starting points and goals of strategic Information Society development. The following is presented as a National Vision:

    “The Finnish society will develop and apply the possibilities of the information society in an exemplary, diversified and sustainable manner in order to improve the quality of life, skills, international competitiveness and interaction”.

    The UAE has reached quite an advanced level and progress in the field of ICT incl e Government Services, eCommerce, B2B etc. Dubai has been instrumental in promoting these new technologies and skills through Dubai Internet City and Dubai Media City, Tejari, Knowledge Village etc.

    We think that our model deserves more public attention also in the Gulf region. That´s why we started a campaign called “Digital Finland”, which has taken different forms over the last year.

    A website was launched for the purpose (digitalfinland.ae).
    From the web site you can reach the Portal specialized in e- News from Finland (e.finland.fi).
  • We published a special Newsletter about Digital Finland (edition 20 000.
  • We had a first ever National Stand at Gitex

    In November 2002, Mr Vilén, the then Minister for Foreign Trade, extended an official invitation to Dubai authorities to send a high level fact finding mission to Finland to make more concrete aqcuaintance with the Finnish model. We hope the visit will, soon, become a reality.

    Yesterday in Dubai and today in Abu Dhabi we continue our road show with a special topic called:

    Internet Based Services for eGovernmentand Business:

    Topics to be covered today are eGovernment Services in Finland and Cooperation in IT and e-Service between the Central Government, Municipalities and the Citizens; We´ll also be talking about “How to Build a Good Portal” and “Publishing and User Interface Solutions for Portals”.

    “Marketing Municipal e Services” is another topic; The representatives of the Finnish Companies Nixu and Stonesoft are going to talk among other things about “e Security Issues from Different Angels”.

    Another interesting topic will be “Digital TV and the Citizen Services”

    I would like to wish you all welcome to this Seminar under the patronage of the Embassy of Finland. I hope that you will have a value added and interesting day. Thank you.


    1) Silicon Valley has been considered as the model that societies must imitate to succeed in the information age. However, recently another alternative has attracted strong international interest: the Finnish model. This is equally dynamic in technological and economic terms, but combines the information society with the welfare state. The information society and the Welfare State is the first accessible academic study of what the Finnish model really is. The authors analyse the factors that enabled Nokia to become one of the world´s leading telecommunications companies, for example, and Linux to become the biggest challenger to Microsoft in the operating systems market. They discuss the development of Nokia and the Finnish innovation model, with important lessons for businesses and national technology policies.

    However, the Finnish model´s most radical and interesting feature is its attempt to combine technological and economic success with social justice and equality. The book shows how Finland has uniquely created “virtuous cycle” out of the information society and the welfare state. The successful information society makes the continued financing of the welfare state possible and the welfare state generates well-educated people in good shape for the information society´s continued success. This model has significant implications for all societies where policy debates about the information society and/or public policy are on the agenda. Ultimately, the Finnish model proves that there is no one model for the information age, but that there is room for different policies and values.”
  • Updated 5/14/2003

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