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Minister Manchevski Addressed the Audience During the Western Balkans Digital Summit

Belgrade, April 4th, 2019

The Minister of Information Society and Administration, Damjan Manchevski, addressed the attendees on the Ministerial Panel, during the second Western Balkans Digital Summit.

As Minister Manchevski stressed, at the Digital Summit held in Skopje for the first time last year, the countries from the region set grounds for cooperation and joint approach of the region to digital transformation. The underlying aim is to improve the quality of life of all citizens living in the six countries.

"The process of digital transformation is long and painstaking. Particularly here, in the Balkans, where provision of services on paper is still considered the better and safer manner. However, North Macedonia undertook serious steps in the previous year to change this manner of thinking and work and to promote the 'digital first' approach. With this, I am primarily talking about the alignment of the national legislation with the EU Acquis. The aim is to secure legal mechanisms to increase trust in electronic transactions and to encourage use of electronic identification. This is how we initiated the process of replacement and gradual abolishment of the use of paper, thereby bringing services closer to citizens", stated Minister Manchevski.

Discussing challenges the region faces in the context of digitalization, he focused on the need to invest in digital skills.

"Both North Macedonia and the region are faced with serious levels of brain drain due to limited job opportunities. The gap in digital skills is actually one of the most pressing issues. IT staff demands are increasing. In the future, 9 out of 10 job positions would require digital skills. Alignment between the supply and demand of the labor market is one of the key requirements for strong and sustainable economy, and this is an issue our Government recognizes. We are proud to say that North Macedonia participated in the largest project at regional level '21st Century Schools'. The aim is to facilitate development of skills needed for coding, critical thinking and problem resolution. Our role as a Government is not only to provide relevant education and development of skills for the digital era, but to also facilitate academic research and development of the industry", said Minister Manchevski.

In addition to Minister Manchevski, the panel also included speeches from the Secretary of State under the Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications of the Republic of Serbia, Tatjana Matich and line ministers in charge of digital transformation, Dragica Sekulikj from Montenegro, Valdrin Luka from Kosovo, Dorina Chinari from Albania and Sasha Dalipagikj from Bosnia and Herzegovina. The panel was moderated by Majlinda Bregu, Secretary General of RCC.

Ministry of Information Society and Administration