Investing in education and digital skills is key in further digitalization in North Macedonia, shows EBRD’s 2021-22 Transition Report, which has been presented Thursday in Skopje, MIA reports.
The report analyzes trends in the 38 countries in which the EBRD invests and highlights development gaps between emerging economies and those lagging behind in the development of digital services. In regard to North Macedonia it was assessed that despite the significant improvements in recent years in various areas, the low level of digital skills is a barrier that slows down further digitalization. This is also the case with a number of economies in the EBRD region.
“Investments in education and digital skills will become even more significant over time, as the digitalization sectors grow rapidly in recent years,” the EBRD officials said. National Bank Governor Anita Angelovska Bezhoska assessed that EBRD assessments are useful guidelines to direct policies, and the focus should be placed on developing digital skills and reducing brain drain especially digitally skilled workforce.
“In our country, efforts should be focused on more adequate digital infrastructure and developing digital skills. The focus should be placed on reducing brain drain especially digitally skilled workforce. The more limited the digital skills are, the more difficult it is to use new technologies and the growth prospects are more limited in a world that is taking over the digital sector,” Angelovska Bezhoska said.
According to Angelovska Bezhoska, digitalization is the solution to increase the growth potential of the domestic economy and therefore special attention must be paid to this part, despite the challenges posed by global crises. “The work of the Innovation Hub, a fintech working group within the National Bank established the so-called Innovation Gateway, a National Bank platform for communication with the innovative business community (fintech sector) and other relevant institutions. The central bank recently conducted a survey, which showed that 90% of respondents recognise the need of digital innovations in financial sector, while 72% of the traditional financial institutions that participated in the survey stated that they were already developing fintech products or services. The National Bank has already prepared a draft of the first National Fintech Strategy,” said Governor Angelovska Bezhoska.
Significant progress has been made in regulation and e-government services, while digital infrastructure and digital skills have not changed much over a five-year period. According to EBRD economists, the economic recovery in North Macedonia began in 2021 and is driven by growing domestic and foreign demand, as well as the fact that growth prospects this year are positive.
However, price rises of electricity and food and an unstable external environment are increasing uncertainty. Inflation is under control, but it will need to be carefully managed,” the EBRD economists said. The EBRD is a major institutional investor in North Macedonia. To date, it has invested more than €2.1 billion in 148 projects in the country.