6th Infocom Albanian Telecom Forum, Time for Business
By By Clive Rumbold
Albanian Daily News
Published May 12, 2015

The first session of the 6th Infocom Telecom Forum held on Monday morning at Sheraton Tirana Hotel, highlighted the importance of the Digital Agenda for Albania as well as the Digital Agenda for Europe, which were subjects addressed by the ICT Minister Harito, Greek Ambassador to Albania Mr. Rokanas, as well as by Head of Political and Information Sector of EU Delegation, Mr. Clive Rumbold.

Below is the full speech of Mr. Rumbold, held at today's conference at Sheraton Tirana. 

I have the great pleasure of attending this forum for the third year in a row.
I would like to thank the organisers for providing an opportunity to discuss
how to bring Albania closer to the European standards for today's information
society. Digital
technology has transformed the world economy and our societies. We see it
before our own eyes every day – at home, at work and when we travel. Today,
digital solutions are at the heart of all modern innovative economic
activities, and they are engines of growth and job creation. Beyond
economic gains, the digital society has provided opportunities for democratic
progress.



· 
It allows public administrations to
provide better services to citizens and businesses – often at a lower cost.



· 
It can directly improve the
democratic process and increase transparency – through better access for
citizens to public information.



Our
future success depends on our ability to make full use of these opportunities.



Last
week, the EU presented an ambitious strategy which aims to create one Digital
Single Market. In this area, citizens and businesses will be able to exercise
online activities in fair competition, irrespective of where they live. It
will help the EU in building a connected, competitive continent. Albania
has an opportunity to take advantage of new technology available – in the development
of its society and economy, and to bring it further along the path of EU
integration.



· 
In order to build a competitive
economy, Albania needs to make sure its economic actors adapt, and its citizens
make full use of the potential of new digital services.



· 
When Albania joins the EU, it must
do so with the capacity to be an equal participant in all of the EU's
dimensions. That includes the single market – online and offline.



· 
This requires alignment with EU's
laws and standards, developed to make sure the information and communication technology
market serves the economy and the citizens.


· 
In addition to this, many of the
fundamental reforms Albania is undertaking to align with EU standards –
including economic governance and public administration reform – can only be fully
realised through the use of digital technologies.



Some
important steps have been taken, and these should be further built upon:



· 
The cross-cutting strategy
"Digital Agenda of Albania 2015-2020" was adopted a few weeks ago. The
strategy aims towards digitalising the public administration, and improving the
governments' service provision. It will also help to better align Albanian
legislation with EU legislation.



· 
The number of e-government services
for citizens and businesses is increasing, and now amounts to around 75 e-services.
16 institutions are connected to the government gateway platform.



But
there is still a lot of work to do:



· 
Albania has to ensure solid
infrastructure for information technology. Only 11.6 % of Albanian homes have
internet coverage. Broadband penetration is only growing slowly, and the rate
is still low by European standards.



· 
Albania needs to make sure that its
citizens and public servants have the skills to make full use of the digital
resources available.



· 
And significant work is needed to
speed up the implementation of the digital switchover strategy, increasing
citizens' access to information through media.



Over
the past seven years, the EU has supported Albania in IT solutions for better
services to citizens in various ways, through a total of 4 million euros. And
we will continue to provide this support. We will allocate an additional 2
million euro to expand digitalisation and improve delivery of public services. Because
Albania's future is a connected one. Bringing Albania to this future means continued
hard work. The digital world doesn't wait. It is under constant development,
and it is crucial that Albania, with our help, keeps up – for its citizens and for
its EU future.






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