Digital Agenda’s report on digital advancement in the Western Balkans

Digitalisation in all spheres and for all social groups may be an effective mechanism for improving the well-being of citizens. This means improving the digital efficiency of institutions, organisations and other social entities.

By Metamorphosis Foundation (guest author) · February 16, 2022

The Digital Agenda (DA) covers the development of the information society in the broadest sense. In order to implement the DA in the Western Balkans, the project Increasing Civic Engagement in the DA – ICEDA is currently being implemented with the financial support of the European Union (EU). 

Although the Western Balkans has a high internet penetration rate ranging between 75%-96%, digital literacy of the population is a persistent issue where digital skills are lacking not only in the general population but also in the public administration. Aside from Serbia, there are no specific or on-going strategies on digital skills, nor specific data on what needs to be done about it in the targeted Western Balkan countries. Large-scale promotion and advocacy for the usage of public e-services is still needed as the national e-service portals are still being improved and e-services remain at different levels of sophistication. On that note, none of the targeted Western Balkan countries collects fully comprehensive data on the usage of public e-services provided at all levels, and not all public e-services are part of the national e-service portals. Despite cybersecurity being part of the legislation and dedicating specific official bodies to be responsible for it, the targeted Western Balkan countries still struggle with efficiently solving cyber crimes and data leaks. Furthermore, e-participation has still not reached its full potential despite the legal acts, strategies, public consultation platforms, working groups, etc.

The project is in its third year of implementation by the partner consortium consisting of Metamorphosis Foundation (North Macedonia) as the leading partner, e-Government Academy (Estonia), Levizja Mjaft! (Albania), CRTA – Center for Research, Transparency and Accountability (Serbia), Partners for Democratic Change (Serbia), NGO 35mm (Montenegro) and ODK – Open Data Kosovo (Kosovo).

Although the topic of DA as an initiative covers a number of aspects, the activities and studies of the ICEDA project are mainly focused on the implementation of: e-government, raising public awareness, digital literacy and civic participation. Within this framework, in the period between March – May 2021, research consistent with the baseline study (conducted in the period between May – June 2020) was conducted in each of the targeted Western Balkan countries, namely Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia. The aim of the research is to measure the progress in relation to the initial state correlated with the DA. The analysis resulted in a report that deals with the topics related to the chapters of EU legislation, relevant to the DA, i.e. Chapter 10, entitled – “Information Society and Media”.

Specifically, this document represents a cumulative report of DA advancements in each of the targeted Western Balkan countries which provides a comparative overview of the current situation in this field. More specific information for each country can be found in the individual Country reports. The cumulative report is available in EnglishMacedonian and Albanian.

Watch the promotional video below and learn more about the key findings.

Please note that by clicking on this video, it will open an external link to the video on YouTube. YouTube engages in extensive data collection and processing practices that are governed by their own terms of service.

This report and video were produced as part of the project “Increasing Civic Engagement in the Digital Agenda – ICEDA” co-funded by the European Union. The report and video were produced with the financial support of the European Union. Their content is the sole responsibility of the IECDA partners and does not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.

(Contribution by: EDRi member, Metamorphosis Foundation)