On 30 November 2020 (Monday), the Metamorphosis Foundation for Internet and Society organized a one-day online training for civil servants on topics related to the Digital Agenda for the Western Balkans. The Digital Agenda is an initiative developed by the European Union, which has also been expanded and adopted for 6 countries in the Western Balkans. It aims to ensure that citizens in the region make full use of the benefits of digital transformation. Commitment to the Digital Agenda will provide citizens with the skills to meet the demands of the new economy and will help modernize public administrations, strengthen computer security, increase connectivity, and improve the business climate.
The training aimed at acquainting civil servants from the ministries in the Republic of North Macedonia with topics related to the Digital Agenda for the Western Balkans and good practices from Estonia related to the capacity development opportunities and visions required for the Digital Agenda at the local, national and regional level, as well as facilitating networking and collaboration in achieving the goals arising from this Agenda.
Representatives from the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Local Self-Government, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning took part in the training.
The training discussed the Digital Agenda as a key initiative in the processes of digital transformation in the Western Balkans, e-services, digital skills, cybersecurity and personal data protection, as well as how the civil society sector can be an excellent ally in the process of digital transformation.
The general conclusions of the training come down to working on building the capacity of the administration to adapt to digital transformation and digital literacy of the population in order to use the benefits of digital transformation more easily, but also to be more competent and competitive in the labor market. It was concluded that institutions at local and national level work with different IT capacities and also different human and financial resources which, not always but often, contributes to the unequal quality of the delivered services. When it comes to the resources available to the institutions, the question arose as to whether they are well distributed and used, and whether there might have been a need for a better plan for their use (as an example was mentioned the use of Windows which according to some representatives of institutions is less secure and highly susceptible to cyberattacks, unlike Linux).
Furthermore, although the legislation is largely in line with the EU acquis, it does not always follow technological progress. Interoperability also stood out as a major challenge and it the creation of a Single Data Center was suggested, where institutions could exchange data from their databases. The final conclusion was that we should work on building mutual trust between the civil society sector and the institutions so that more effective innovations can be achieved that will focus on the citizens.
This training was part of the project “Increasing Civic Engagement in the Digital Agenda – ICEDA” co-funded by the European Union and implemented in 6 countries (North Macedonia, Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Albania and Estonia). This project is implemented by the Metamorphosis Foundation (North Macedonia), the Academy of e-Governance (Estonia), Levizja Mjaft! (Albania), CRTA – Center for Research, Transparency and Accountability (Serbia), NGO 35mm (Montenegro) and ODK – Open Data Kosovo (Kosovo). The project is being implemented with financial support from the European Union.