Updated; 19-04-2018, 16:19

Why we must talk about digitization in the Western Balkan Countries. Western Balkan Summit Panels with Telekom Board Members Gopalan and Thomas Kremer. Aim: foster cooperation on the Western Balkans in the digital transformation to speed up economic prosperity and EU integration

Digitalization might have a huge impact on prosperity of the Western Balkans. The Digital Summit in Skopje is one important step in creating awareness of this fact – and to act. The idea is based on an initiative of Deutsche Telekom, the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations of the German Economy and the German Federal Government. Our ambition is to foster cooperation on the Western Balkans in the digital transformation to speed up economic prosperity and EU integration. We support digital literacy as a pre-requisite for each citizen but also for economy and political stability to benefit from Digitization. The summit is thought to be a permanent platform to support these ambitions

Deutsche Telekom is actively participating and contributing to the Summit program. Together with other partners we are part of WB6+ Initiative’s Study on “The Impact of Digital Transformation on the Western Balkans” that will be presented on the first day of Summit.

Some core findings of the study:

1. A joint digital strategy in the WB6+(Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzogovina, Albania, Kosovo*) will accelerate EU integration efforts. It anticipates a faster change in terms of rule of law, helps to create a functional market structure in the region, fosters the modernization of administration and society

2.Digitalization will strengthen democracy, foster economic prosperity and create an open society in the region.

3.Regional cooperation is the essential pillar for a successful and sustainable digital transformation.

4. 10% increase in the digitization index leads to up to 1% growth in the GDP

5. Infrastructure investments by private investors combined with strong efforts of regional governments to promote digital transformation including education of the young generationare the big chance for the countries of the region and its citizens to make the jump from the late 19th century into the 21st century at once.

Srini Gopalan,Board member for Europe, is one of the Telekom speakers on the summit. His main messages on the Panel for Digital Skill are: “Digitization is part of our daily life. It has already changed our way of communicating, working, living and even our way of thinking – digitization is no longer just the buzzword  as it was for quite some time. Digitization is reality, is bringing people closer together, helping them share ideas and products, is enriching their lives.”

For Gopalan holds true: “Digitization is integration – integration of markets, industries, societies. Digitization is flattening silos, jumping fences, erasing bordersBy eliminating the digital divide new opportunities are created across the spectrum.”

DT has been present in Western Balkan for more than 15 years. Hrvatski Telekom, Makedonski Telekom, Crnogorski Telekom and Telekom Albania are subsidiaries from early 2000‘s. In all markets its subsidiaries are market leaders in area of Telecommunication. This region is very important for DT and our goal is furthering our technology leadership in this region and embracing digital transformation.

While the promise is there and has been recently restated by the EU, the challenges remain formidable, requiring substantial changes in terms of rule of law, elimination of state capture, creating functional market economies that can sustain the markets of the EU, as well as societies that are prepared for the challenges of membership.

"Digitization needs security. Just as digital space does not follow our geographical maps, cyber security does not stop at national borders. Therefore, we need a united Europe – in the real world as well as in cyber space. And Cyber-Europe is only the first step towards a global cyber security space. We always must be aware: the weakest element determines the whole level of security in the chain”, claims Thomas Kremer, board member responsible for Data Privacy, Legal Affairs & Compliance, as the Telekom speaker on the Trust and Security Panel of the Summit. /noa.al/