Digitalising Development


Alix Rübsaam

Keynote Speaker

Alix Rübsaam is researcher on Posthumanism and philosophy of technology.

She is a PhD candidate at the University of Amsterdam and currently working at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis. Her presentations cover a broad range of topics amongst which disruption, HR and Artificial Intelligence, whereby the emphasis is always on the intersection of computers and humans.




Juhan Lepassaar

Head of Cabinet to Vice-President Ansip, European Commission

Juhan Lepassaar, a 37-year-old Estonian, joined the European Commission in 2013 as Member of Cabinet for Vice-President Siim Kallas, Commissioner for Transport. Before joining the Commission, he was Director for EU affairs at the Government Office of Estonia and an EU adviser to the Prime Minister for five years. He started working at the Government Office in 2000 dealing with Estonia’s European Union policy in different roles. Juhan Lepassaar studied interior design, architecture and political science and has a Master of Arts degree from the University of Sussex in Contemporary European Politics.


Hannes Astok

Deputy Director for Strategy and Development in Estonian e-Governance Academy

Mr. Hannes Astok is Senior Expert and enthusiastic speaker for the information society, especially promoting the role of local governments and challenges of the mobile governance.
Hannes is Senior Expert and Deputy Director for Strategy and Development in Estonian e-Governance Academy, providing training and consultancy for governments in Central Asia, Caucasus, South-East Europe, Middle East, Africa and other transition regions. During the last years, he has been working closely with governments of Ukraine, Namibia, Moldova, Palestine, Georgia, Mauritius, among others.
2012-13 Hannes was Adviser to the President of Estonia about the Information Society development. Hannes was Member of the Estonian Parliament (Riigikogu) 2007-2011 and Deputy Mayor of Estonian second largest city Tartu 1997-2005. Hannes holds the degree from Tartu University in journalism and public relations.


Katarzyna Hanula-Bobbitt

Head of Policy and Advocacy at CONCORD Europe focuses on institutional outreach, building strategic alliances and policy trend analysis. With her background in economics and financial markets she commented on digitalization and technology trends in financial sector during the early policy debates.

As member of REFIT Platform of the European Commission, she worked on several policy areas to achieve better regulatory efficiency and administrative burden reduction also by assessing the possible impact of digitalization.

Personally, interested in designed thinking process for policy making.


Priit Kongo

Priit Kongo is a founder and CEO of Estonian IT consultancy company Net Group Ltd. Main expertise area of Net Group and Mr. Priit Kongo is Justice Digitalisation, Court Management and solutions for the better Rule of Law.

Over the last 8 years Mr. Priit Kongo has been actively involved with several Justice digitalisation projects in EMEA region (Estonian Court Information System), in Iraq (Kurdistan Court Information System), in Holland (International Criminal Court System.
At the moment Priit Kongo is preparing Uganda e-Justice 5 years digitalisation strategy.

Priit Kongo is also a Council Member of Estonian Post / Omniva.



Kari Käsper

The Executive Director of the EHRC

Kari also teaches European Union law and studies public administration in doctoral level at Tallinn University of Technology. From 2010 to 2015 he managed the equal treatment advancement projects at TUT, a part of which was the campaign “Diversity Enriches”. He was involved with the youth organisation Tegusad Eesti Noored (Active Estonian Youth) 2001 – 2008, being one of the founders and helping to manage it. He also took part in the work of the European Youth Parliament between 1999 and 2008.

Education Master of Arts in Law (Tallinn University of Technology), Bachelor of Arts in Law (Concordia International University Estonia / Audentes University).


Pille Pruulmann-Vengerfeldt

Professor in media and communication, in University of Malmö, School of Arts, Culture and Communication.

Her interests include internet users and uses, cross-media audiences, museums and cultural and democratic participation. She has participated in several national and international projects and published over hundred peer-reviewed and popular articles in journals, books and newspapers.



Tobias Denskus

Senior Lecturer at Malmö University, Sweden.

Tobias directs its online blended learning MA in Communication for Development. He is also communicating contemporary representations and critique of development as researcher and blogger.



Arnaud Castaignet

Arnaud Castaignet is the Head of Public Relations of Estonia’s e-Residency programme.

Until May 2017, he was working for French President Hollande as a communication officer. Prior to his time at the French Presidency, he has worked as an international communications consultant in Paris, advising governments, politicians and corporations and as a business journalist in Istanbul (Turkey) and Mumbai (India). He is also member of the board of Open Diplomacy, a Paris-based think tank established in 2010..


Edna Soomre

Programme Manager for Health at SPIDER

Edna was born in Tallinn, raised in Saku, before moving to Sweden and later the UK where she studied International Relations, Development and International Law. She has over 15 years of experience working with public health, policy and human rights, including EC’s Civil Society Expert group on HIV. Edna heads SPIDER’s Health programme, coordinates democracy projects in East Africa, and leads work on the ICT 4 Social Innovation Network which unites business, public and CSO sectors with academia and tech community.

SPIDER’s focus is on people-focused technology as a tool for sustainable development.


Theodore Saramandis

Mr Saramandis is Principal Administrator in charge of Digital for Development within the Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development of the European Commission.
Mr Saramandis has been working at the European Commission on uninterrupted assignments since 1986. At the beginning of his career, he served in the Directorate-Generals for Agriculture, External Relations and Regional Policies. From 1992 to 2002, he was appointed Member of the Private Office of the European Commissioner for Environment, Nuclear Safety and Fisheries. He subsequently was in charge of the relations between the European Commission and the Committee of the Regions at the General Secretariat of the European Commission before being posted, as Economic Adviser (1997-1999) within the European Union Delegation in Mauritania. In 2000, he joined the Directorate-General for Employment and Social Affairs and was in charge of the European Social Inclusion policy and of programmes funded by the European Social Fund. From 2002 to 2010, he returned at the Directorate-General for Regional Policies, where he was responsible for the coordination on issues related to the Outermost regions, and with Policy conception and economic analyses as well as for the Accession Negotiations of Bulgaria. From 2010 until 2016, he was the Head of the Task Force in charge of the relations with the Overseas Countries and Territories.

Before joining the European Commission, Mr Saramandis graduated from the College of Europe in Bruges (Diploma of High European Economics Studies) and the University of Aix-Marseille III (Licence in Applied Economics and Maîtrise in International Trade).


Moderators and facilitators


Margo Loor

A good conversation is engaging, makes maximum use of each participant’s viewpoint and reaches the desired goal in a given time. Whereas an insanely great conversation is one, where the result is greater than the sum of participants, where synergy creates ideas and solutions, that no one could have expected at the outset. A successful moderator delivers at least a good conversation in any situation, while always striving to create the insanely great ones.

Margo has developed and refined his skills for more than 20 years to be a successful moderator. Margo enjoys adapting to the most diverse conditions and expectations of SpeakSmart clients. From a 20-minute panel discussion to a multi-hour negotiation marathon, from open-air festivals to business conferences, from live TV broadcasts to written debates, from groups of friends to top politicians.


Marleen Pedjassaar

Marleen is an experienced moderaator at SpeakSmart.

Having designed and facilitated many different discussions, starting from roundtables and panel discussions at conferences and ending with more private seminars. She enjoys discussing different topics and creating a platform where everybody feels free to express their ideas. Marleen has a BA in Political Science and MA in Educational Management and aside from facilitating discussions herself, she also teaches moderating, facilitation and argumentation skills.


Johannes Trimmel

Johannes Trimmel is Director, Policy and Advocacy at the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness.

He is elected President of CONCORD, the European Confederation of Relief and Development NGOs, that represent over 2,600 NGOs, supported by millions of citizens across Europe. During the last 15 years of his engagement in development cooperation he has been focusing on the rights of persons with disabilities and their inclusion, as well as access to eye health and health systems strengthening – amongst others as Director for International Programme Support and Policies at Light for the World and Chair of the International Disability and Development Consortium.




Estonian Roundtable for Development Cooperation (AKÜ) is an independent not-for-profit coalition of non-governmental organisations that work in the field of development cooperation, global citizenship education or sustainable development.

AKÜ is a strategic partner for Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a consultant the state in field of development cooperation, global citizenship education or sustainable development.

AKÜ also provides workshops and consultancy for private sector companies as well as for wider public on sustainable development goals and global issues. 

The highest decision-making body is the General Assmebly.  AKÜ’s legal representative is the Board, which is also responsible for managing the organisation’s staff. 

MTÜ Arengukoostöö Ümarlaud (AKÜ)

Estonian Roundtable for Development Cooperation

Telliskivi 60a/3, 10412, Tallinn


Agne Kuimet – member of management board,