Montenegro aligns digital development with international goals

ITU News spoke to Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic about how digital technologies are advancing development and boosting economic growth.

How do information and communication technologies (ICTs) fit into Montenegro’s social and economic development plans?

ICTs have become an increasingly important tool for economic development, broadening people’s possibilities of using modern technologies, fostering the digital economy, and enhancing international cooperation. Rapid, secure digital infrastructure and e-services have helped overcome problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Montenegro’s ICT sector responded promptly to requests for new e-services, which proved necessary for remote working, distance learning, and e-commerce.

As a government, we want the ICT sector to help us identify problems in our community.

Still, our country has a lot to do to reach its ICT potential. We must foster domestic information technology (IT) companies and bolster our competitive position in the market. We need to do update the education system, attract young IT talent, and the increase the number of highly skilled experts.

We must work together to develop the skills that would bring us into the ranks of digitally developed countries. Those are now our role models.

What key actions is your government taking to promote national digital transformation?

Digital transformation is one of six key priorities for Montenegrin society and a strategic principle of the 2021 Government Plan.

We are focused on establishing human-centred policies, programmes, and services in the public sector to meet people’s everyday needs.

As COVID-19 has shown, we simply cannot survive if we stay offline. In Montenegro, like everywhere, people have come to expect fast, convenient services, available on demand.

This year we co-designed, with the tech community, Montenegro’s forthcoming, first digital transformation and cybersecurity strategies. The Ministry of Public Administration, Digital Society and Media led this process, setting out development priorities until 2025.

We plan to improve project and service delivery across the whole government and provide best-in-class public health, education, and business services, always keeping citizens' needs at the forefront.

Along with unleashing digital potential, can robust and fit-for-purpose regulation strengthen the country’s accession process with the European Union?

Often, technologies advance faster than legislation can. Montenegro faces the same situation as other countries do on our path toward deeper EU integration. In our EU accession process, we are striving to keep our laws, strategies and policies aligned with EU as well as regional regulations.

Montenegro is part of the Western Balkans Six Roaming Agreement, which signals tangible regional cooperation and integration.

Ultimately, the goal is “Roam Like at Home” services between West Balkan and EU countries.

We also fully support international conferences such as last month’s ITU-EKIP Regulatory Forum for Europe (co-organized with the Agency for Electronic Communications and Postal Services of Montenegro – EKIP) and the Western Balkans Digital Summit, coming up from 11 to 13 October.

What is the upcoming 2021 Digital Summit for the Western Balkans intended to achieve?

Our capital, Podgorica, is set to host the 4th Western Balkans Digital Summit, organized by the Ministry of Public Administration, Digital Society and Media with support from m:tel Montenegro.

The event will bring together governments, businesses, regional organizations, CSOs (chief security officers), academia and youth. It aims to set up a digital platform to exchange ideas and proposals.

This year’s topics will provide a strong foundation for governments, the private sector, schools, hospitals, and universities to become more efficient and innovative, to collaborate on key digital objectives, to empower young people and build digital skills.

How can cooperation with the International Telecommunication (ITU), the broader United Nations community and the EU help advance regional and national digital development priorities?

Cooperation and collaboration with ITU, the UN and the EU – especially on digital strategy and regulation – offers the quickest way to leverage digital transformation and deliver meaningful solutions for all our citizens.

Montenegro is committed to providing better and more diversified digital services, cross-border cooperation, and data exchange, regionally and with the EU.

This government will continue to adopt laws that boost innovation and promote a digital society through e-government and e-business.

Our strategic documents define next steps to overcome digital gaps and chart our path towards a more modern society. In parallel, we are working on a national programme to attract digital nomads – people who earn a living online without a fixed location. This is why we need to adopt the best regional practices: to make our country completely digital friendly.

Consequently, our strategies align with Europe’s envisaged digital transformation by 2030. Digital knowledge and skills, secure and sustainable infrastructure, and the digitalization of public services and businesses are all key drivers for Montenegro’s future development.

 

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