Statement by Ambassador Per Strand Sjaastad,
IPKO Foundation Launch, 12 December 2018
Mr. Dema, Ms. Hart, Professors and Students,
It is a pleasure to be here today for the launch of the KosLift project, supported by the Embassy of Norway.
Let me underline that ICT is not only a sector, accounting for around 5 percent of the average European economy. ICT is also a cross-cutting technology, with huge impact far beyond the sector itself. It contributes around 50 percent of productivity growth in Europe.
ICT skills, software and technology is a key tool in bringing society forward, both the public and private sector. It provides better and more efficient services, education and production. The Nordic states (Norway, Sweden, Finland) rank among top 4 in the World ICT Development Index.
So, how to make the most of the vast ICT opportunities?
Creating a business-friendly environment, in general terms, is a good start. It is still the basic features of a society that count the most, such as a stable business and political environment, and well-performing education and training systems.
Kosovo also needs to create a culture of innovation - a key asset when grasping opportunities in emerging industries.
The government must get the basics right, by providing funding for research, start-ups and key infrastructure – creating a strong ICT cluster. If something is missing in this triangle – business, research and the government, you will start with a disadvantage.
A dynamic ICT industry will deliver goods and services that support digitalization in both the public and private sectors. In addition, there is a link between e-government and e-industry – growth may mutually reinforce each other.
I believe Kosovo has a very good chance to succeed in the ICT area. It has a young population with energy and innovation skills.
However, the biggest challenge for the moment is perhaps lack of skilled labor and access to finance. One should promote and enhance specialized competence, improve formal and vocational education, and ensure high-quality schools and training. The KosLift project, implemented by IPKO Foundation and Rochester Institute of Technology in Kosovo, is another step in the right direction.
Norway has played a visible role in the development of the ICT sector in Kosovo. We have the last 10 years donated around EUR 14 mil to ICT projects, with the main objective on training, start-ups and job creation. I can assure you that support to the Kosovo ICT sector, will remain a priority for Norway.
Thank you for your attention!