“Still unpublished latest edition of the RCC’s annual public and business survey for the Wester Balkans – Balkan Barometer 2020 shows that, as expected, internet was extensively used for communication purposes with the proliferation of social media (69%), while traditionally it was less popular for education (30%) and online shopping (22%). E-government services are used by a mere 3% of the population. Data also show that less than 17% of the population in the region does not use internet, mostly 65+ citizens,” said Majlinda Bregu, Secretary-General of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) at the Regional Development Forum for Europe held remotely today.
Forced shift to digital solutions due to the pandemic represents an essential change in government and business processes, allowing for greater and anticipated use of digital technologies to create new opportunities, innovative solutions and new set of rules and market requirements. It is calculated that 10% increase in the digitisation index is associated with 0.63% of GDP growth.
“Although the overall digital transformation performance of WB economies has improved during the last year, the connectivity gaps with EU average are still high. According to the OECD’s estimates 50% of households in WB6 do not have a computer while about one third lack broadband internet connection. The WB economies need to switch their development trajectory from the one which is driven by the accumulation of physical capital to the one which is based on the accumulation of knowledge. Digital skills are pivotal to respond to the automatization of business processes, so, let us jointly walk the extra mile for the benefit of Western Balkan citizens, “ concluded Bregu.
The region has already initiated preparations for the post-pandemic context through the preparation of Digital transformation agenda 2021-2024, aimed at creating grounds for regional digital single space and Western Balkan fit for Digital Age. More innovation, thinking out of the box and digitally driven mind-set should be placed in shaping the regional digital agenda. The RCC will assist the region to identify connectivity gaps so as to support better use of Western Balkan Investment Framework (WBIF) funds in advancing with digital infrastructure investment.