Photo by: Fisnik Xhelili/Portalb.mk
The goals and activities of the decision-makers of the Western Balkan countries should be oriented and have the ultimate goal of providing equal access to services for all their citizens and be as inclusive as possible. This was the conclusion of the panel on “Priorities in the National Action Plans of the Open Government Partnership of the Western Balkan countries (successful stories)”, which was held today in Pristina within the framework of the ICEDA project (Increasing Civic Engagement in the Digital Agenda) in cooperation with the host partner of ICEDA Open Data Kosovo – Kosovo, on the topic of “Digital Governance in the region through the Open Government Partnership and other initiatives”, writes Portalb.mk.
Participants from the five countries of the Western Balkans: North Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia shared the experiences of their countries in terms of digital transformation through the National Action Plans (NAPs) of the Open Government Partnership (OGP).
They provided a broader overview of the efforts being made in their countries to deal more deeply with digital transformation through the NAP, and how the digitalization process has been transformed through the NAP.
In terms of this initiative, Kosovo is at the starting point, where only yesterday the Government of Kosovo approved the National Action Plan 2023-2025 for the Open Government Partnership. The implementation of this plan is scheduled to begin in 2023.
Kushtrim Canolli, from the office of the Prime Minister of Kosovo, emphasizing this, said that the year 2023 will be the year of a digital transformation in this direction.
The commitments of the Action Plan are: digital governance, open data, citizen participation and anti-corruption.
“Having a strong central platform is a priority for the Government of Kosovo… What we are doing is investing or intervening in other issues as well”, stressed Canolli, who among other things emphasized that they recently signed an agreement with France which will help in digital transformation.
When asked about their approach to improving citizens’ digital skills, he emphasized the importance of taking concrete steps rather than relying on generalizations like ‘digitalization is good’. He explained that they will focus on specific topics to raise awareness among citizens about digital technology.
The researcher from the Center for European Policy – Serbia, Milosh Pavkovic, highlighted that the organization he is a part of as an independent actor is part of the Government’s cooperation in this regard. He underlined that although digitization is a priority in Serbia, it still has its ups and downs.
“It is important for the Government to make campaigns and inform the citizens to participate”, said Pavkovic, emphasizing that in certain cases the lack of a database is a problem. As for the ongoing activities, he emphasized that the government must show real commitment to fulfill the priorities. Among other things, he said that the points that have not been met with the current NAP are expected to be done with the next one.
On the other hand, Lidija Ljumovic, from the Directorate for Innovation – Montenegro emphasized the activities undertaken by her country in this direction and the plans that are expected to be implemented in the future.
The participants agreed that special emphasis should be given to the motivation of citizens to use the electronic services that countries offer.
The purpose of these discussions is to exchange knowledge between stakeholders (institutions and civil society organizations) from the Western Balkans and to start a productive dialogue for better work on the problems related to digital transformation through global initiatives such as the Open Government Partnership (OGP).
The event was open to the public and you can watch it in the video below.
What is the Open Government Partnership?
As a global initiative, the Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a broad partnership of national and local level entities working together to create action plans with concrete steps – commitments – on a wide range of issues. Since 2011, POG’s idea is that open government is more accessible, responsive and accountable to citizens, and that improving the relationship between people and their government has long-term and exponential benefits for everyone. This partnership of 78 national members, which includes a growing number of local authorities and thousands of civil society participants, has enabled the co-creation of over 4,000 open government reforms, a significant number of which have shown great impact.
The Western Balkans in the Open Government Partnership
Among the national members of this initiative are the governments of the Western Balkans, namely Albania (2011), Bosnia and Herzegovina (2014), Montenegro (2011), North Macedonia (2011) and Serbia (2012), while Kosovo is the only country that is not part of this process despite their efforts to join, just yesterday the country approved the National Action Plan (NAP) for the Open Government Partnership (OGP).
Digitalization as a priority in the national action plans for the Open Government Partnership of the Western Balkans
With a smaller or larger focus, especially for those plans that were developed at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the governments of the Western Balkans have prepared their NAPs with digitization in different sectors set as priorities.
Otherwise, yesterday the partners of the ICEDA project (Increasing Civic Engagement in the Digital Agenda) in cooperation with the host partner of ICEDA Open Data Kosovo Kosovo, in the framework of regional dialogues on the digital agenda, discussed the challenges and achievements on the topic of “E-Governance in the region through the Open Government Partnership and other initiatives”.
The project “Increasing Civic Engagement in the Digital Agenda – ICEDA” is implemented by the Metamorphosis Foundation (North Macedonia), the Academy for E-Government (Estonia), Lëvizja Mjaft! (Albania), Partners for Democratic Change (Serbia), NGO 35mm (Montenegro) and ODK – Open Data Kosovo (Kosovo). The project is realized with the financial support of the European Union, which promotes better E-Services in the Western Balkans region.
Link to the original text: Еднаков пристап и инклузивност на граѓаните преку дигитализацијата да биде приоритет за земјите од регионот