Republika Srpska President Željka Cvijanović has said that it is very important for governments to recognize the importance of the digital economy and digitalization in general, and to create suppositions and a framework for quick transformation since the growth of every national and global economy will depend on it.
Cvijanović stressed that only those countries who timely understand the importance of transformation and transfer to the digital economy will have economic and social benefits, and all those who continue to live with old habits and routines will lag behind when it comes to competitiveness, economic growth, and development.
“When it comes to digitalization, Republika Srpska drafted an ambitious plan and many of the important projects have already been implemented, some are being implemented and some are planned. Numerous internet services have been established or are being established, services which enable simpler and more efficient work of the public administration, easier and quicker business operations, online registration of business entities, easier and better communication between citizens and institutions, and access of citizens and businesses to certain services,” Cvijanović said on Thursday in Saint Petersburg.
She has stressed that this is why a new Ministry of Scientific and Technological Development, Higher Education and Information Society was formed in order to better connect universities and the business community, introduce tools for the development of digital economy and follow new trends in the sphere of digitalization.
“We did and planned many things in Republika Srpska, but despite a creative potential, the whole region of the Western Balkans is lagging far behind the countries of the EU when it comes to innovations, technological development, and competitiveness. In order to catch up with more developed countries, we need enough experts in completely new fields,” Cvijanović said.
She stressed that the issue of equality or prospects for equal access is seen in two ways.
“First, do all the countries, having in mind different levels of development, have the same prospects for entering the era of digitalization and equal benefits stemming from it? They certainly do not, since their starting points are not the same, and this is one dimension of this issue,” Cvijanović said.
She has said that she is afraid that these different starting points could cause greater inequality in the future, and that therefore it is important for governments to recognize the importance of digital economy and digitalization in general and to create suppositions for quick transformation, since the economic growth of every national and global economy will depend on it.
The Republika Srpska president has said that the second dimension is gender participation, and that the question is being posed as to whether men and women have equal prospects in the digitalization era.
“If we see things formally, we can say there are no formal obstacles in education to getting necessary qualifications, or special barriers to getting or performing such jobs. We could say that there is no discrimination. But numbers do not confirm equality,” the Republika Srpska president says.
A program of requalification of unemployed, uncompetitive highly educated people will serve as one of the models to overcome the problem of uncompetitive occupations but also to enable greater involvement of women in the sphere of digitalization in Republika Srpska, says Cvijanović, so that they could gain qualifications and skills for jobs in information technologies for which there is high demand in the labor market.
According to her, there are plans to establish a network of STEM centers so that young people could gain useful knowledge in order to enroll in technical faculties and get jobs more easily.
“The era of digitalization really offers huge possibilities and improvements in the everyday lives of citizens, services and businesses and will have increasingly greater importance for the economic growth, but it also puts serious challenges before institutions, academic and business communities,” the Republika Srpska president said at a panel discussion titled “Equal Prospects in Digital Era” which is being held as part of the International Economic Forum in Saint Petersburg.
The moderator of the panel was Ekatarina Inozemceva, and in addition to the Republika Srpska President, the executive director of the World Food Program, David Beasley, the executive manager of IBM in Russia, Iris Dzeba, the vice-chairman of the Federal Council of the Russian Federal Parliament, Galina Karelova, the president of the Info Watch Group, Natalia Kasperskaya, the Deputy Head of the Expert Department of the President of the Russian Federation, Svetlana Lukash, the pro-rector for international relations of the Far East Federal University, Viktoria Panova, the executive manager of the National Media Group, Olga Paskina, also took part in the panel discussion.