Kosovo is not only a priority country for Austrian development cooperation and one of the youngest countries in Europe – it is also on the way to establishing itself as one of the most attractive countries for ICT services. More than 30 Kosovar and Austrian ICT companies met on November 9th in Vienna to discuss cooperation opportunities in the areas of software development, blockchain and outsourcing.
The event was attended by executives from institutions and entrepreneurs in the ICT sector from both countries. Business opportunities, industry news and best practices were presented. The first on-site event since the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis met with great approval on both sides. Further events are planned to facilitate market access for Kosovar ICT companies and to support Kosovo in establishing itself as a leading ICT country.
Promoting digital change in Kosovo
Kosovar Minister of Industry, Entrepreneurship and Trade, Rozeta Hajdari, highlighted the outstanding importance of the ICT sector for the Kosovar economy and presented the government initiatives to support a more open, innovative and inclusive digital Kosovo. The minister said that the rapid implementation of measures to accelerate digital change is of great importance for economic growth in Kosovo. Hajdari also recognized the role of the ACCESS (Market Access and Business Digitalization Services for Kosovo Companies) project in the country’s digital development. In his welcoming speech, the Ambassador of the Republic of Kosovo, Lulzim Pllana, underlined the readiness of the Kosovar government to intensify economic cooperation between the two countries.
Global demand for ICT outsourcing
Responding to the growing global ICT outsourcing demand and changing customer habits, Kosovo is now recognized as one of the most attractive ICT outsourcing destinations in Europe. The high availability of ICT workers, the favorable cost structures and the excellent IT and language skills have brought the country into the focus of many large companies. The managing director of the Kosovar Association for Information and Communication Technology (STIKK), Vjollca Çavolli, described Kosovo as an “oasis of talent”: 70 percent of the population is under 35 – an enormous potential that is waiting to be developed.
Strengthening the strategic relationship with Austria
Another focus of the event was the strengthening of strategic relations between Kosovo and Austria. Austria is one of the most important partners for the country’s economic development. Vjosa Huruglica, head of Advantage Austria’s commercial office in Kosovo, emphasized the importance of Austrian investments for the economic development of Kosovo and praised the favorable business climate that has made the country attractive to Austrian investors for decades. Edith Mychalewicz from the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), the agency for Austrian development cooperation, presented funding opportunities for development-effective economic partnerships in Kosovo.
International cooperation and knowledge exchange
Kujtim Dobruna, program director of the ACCESS project, highlighted the central role of the ICT sector in improving regional and international cooperation and knowledge exchange. According to Dobruna, the fastest way to transform both economies is through innovation. Creative innovation is an important part of the value chains of the digital economy. The digital revolution is being driven by people who are in constant contact with one another, regardless of their origin and geographical distance.
The event was sponsored by the Market Access and Business Digitalization Services for Kosovo Companies (ACCESS) project, funded by the Austrian Development Cooperation (OEZA) and by ECIKS, in cooperation with the Kosovo Investment and Enterprise Support Agency (KIESA) and the Austrian Chamber of Commerce (WKO ) organized. The project aims to give Kosovar ICT companies permanent market access and stronger cross-border ties in Europe.
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