At the opening of the High-Level Meeting within the third day of the Western Balkans Digital Summit, which is being held in Podgorica, the Prime Minister said that technologies make life easier and better with the possibility of faster communication.
“Technology is here, but we should not be its slaves. It should serve man, not man technology. At 4th Digital Summit, four crucial topics were covered, which include everything that is the feature of today’s momentum, and the first are digital skills and competencies. It is precisely this connection that we map through the area that should be most represented in our education. Another important topic is the digital economy. When we apply it in everyday life, we will have the most important thing, and that is that our response to all events is targeted to avoiding the wasting of the time,” said Krivokapic.
A very important dimension, as he said, is connection and communication.
“We can all win together. The last area is, perhaps, the most specific, because it entails the greatest problems, and that is safety and security that is of a digital character and represents a challenge for all of us,” said Krivokapic.
He pointed out that the coronavirus pandemic has imposed one good thing, and that is to be as digital as possible and to move to a way of thinking that is digital.
“This is a time when knowledge wins, and knowledge without digital transformation today is like it used to be in the Middle Ages, when someone had knowledge but did not know how to write. That is the message that we should all think about and make joint efforts to make the region digital and better connected,” said the Prime Minister Krivokapic.
The Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), Majlinda Bregu, believes that the digital reality of all citizens of the region must be taken into account.
“We have more than 10 million active Facebook users in the Western Balkans, and the recent system crash has shown not only how much we depend on and rely on digital technologies and social networks, but also a broader picture of the impact of digital technologies,” Bregu said.
Digital technologies, as she explained, influence marketing campaigns, predominant news, policies, education, transform medicine.
“Digital transformation uses our personal data for good or bad purposes, changes jobs, inspires employees, but also exposes us all to the risk of cyber-attacks,” Bregu said.
She pointed out that the objective is to reduce the roaming costs with the countries of the European Union, and by 2027, the costs will be reduced by 90% for the currently most expensive mobile networks in the Western Balkans.
“Our objective is to prepare the region for 5G technology, to introduce broadband network for 95 percent of households for the next three years. We are facing on a daily basis with the question of whether regional cooperation is enough to change our economies and lives for the better? You know the answer to this question, but it cannot be a success story without the process of Europeanization of our countries,” Bregu said.
European Commissioner for Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi said that it is necessary to continue working on reducing roaming costs between the countries of the European Union and the Western Balkans, and in order to achieve that, a roadmap was developed, aimed at reducing tariffs, improving the business environment for operators and opening numerous opportunities for economic development of the region through reforms.
“I call upon all telecom operators to join the process and to implement this roadmap swiftly. It is an opportunity for us all to benefit, both companies and individuals throughout the region. We have the framework needed to support the digital transformation of the Western Balkans, the economic investment plan highlights our common priorities and provides significant financial support. Digital infrastructure is one of its key components,” Varhelyi said.
To create a well-functioning market, as he said, it is not enough to have investments, it is also important to pursue the regulatory environment reforms.
World Health Organization Country System Director, Natasha Azzopardi Muscat said the economies that responded best to the pandemic were those with a history of strategic investment in integrated health systems, accompanied by mature, digital ecosystems.
“Access to quality real-time data has been key to succeeding in developing a timely and appropriate response to the pandemic and empowering the population to better manage their health. But this approach is still not close to many European countries. Alost whole region has the paper-based health system data. That is why the focus on digitalization must be increased, ”said Muscat.
The coronavirus pandemic has taught us, as she said, numerous lessons, and the most important is that coordinated action is the only effective approach to address health challenges.
“Technologies in the field of health are necessary for better security in that area and economic prosperity. The digital transformation allows us to better connect with the healthcare, social protection and education sectors, ”said Muscat.
2021 Western Balkans Digital Summit is being held as part of the Berlin Process and as an initiative of the Regional Cooperation Council and the importance of the Summit has been reaffirmed through the new four-year action plan 2021-2024, for the Common Regional Market (CRM).
The host and organizer of this year's Summit is the Ministry of Public Administration of Digital Society and Media on behalf of the Government of Montenegro, while the general sponsor is the company M:TEL