Attaining a digital economy

Attaining a digital economy

Publication Date: Apr 14, 2013
Our reliance on digital technology is undisputed. This is a result of governments’ and businesses’ use of digital technologies to thrive on economic growth and to gain a com­petitive edge. It is also the result of people’s increasing expectations and changing behaviour.
Malta’s small size and limited natural resources are well compensated by talented people
Malta is no exception. Digital technology is a pillar of our economy. The digital economy within a digital society is our present and future.

Within this context, the Government, in line with its mandate and the EU Digital Agenda, will spearhead initiatives to create the ideal entrepreneurial climate and leverage investment in technologies and human resources. This will lead to value-added economic opportunities and improvements to social wellbeing.
The attainment of this objective will evolve around five primary themes: the citizen, the business sector, civil society, government administration and technology.

The Government’s commitment is to continue to reduce the digital divide. Enhancing digital literacy skills and e-networking skills through improved accessibility while protecting people online, is one of our key priorities. Our educational system must offer more specialised training to citizens. We will invest in an education infrastructure through the implementation and support of the e-Learning Programme and the provision of e-platforms.
We will strengthen the national ICT human capital through the eSkills Alliance while consolidating the National ICT Infrastructure by partnering with the private sector to provide free wi-fi internet access across Malta and Gozo, and ultra-fast, reliable and quality internet access to the home.

To ensure no-one, particularly the disadvantaged, is left behind, we will define initiatives to enhance and extend the intensity of ICT in the educational curricula, harnessing the potential of senior citizens, upskill and re-skill people in vulnerable groups and increase female participation in the ICT industry.

Malta’s small size and limited natural resources are well compensated by talented and dynamic people. If our youngsters develop within an educational system that promotes digitisation and entrepreneurship, and our people work within a robust business, legislative and regulatory framework, then we can compete with the best in the world. This is the competitive edge we can build on in our quest for a digital economy.

Malta can attract and cultivate creative industries through various initiatives, including a commitment to reduce state bureaucracy, continued support to the igaming and the digital gaming industry, support to the local software industry, assistance to local businesses to adopt the principle of ‘Born Global’, incentives to companies from the Far East to open near-shore operations in Malta, a supporting environment for more focused research and innovation, and for new and creative ideas to be translated into effective outcomes.

In this context, the Government is assessing which legislation needs to be improved for Malta to remain a jurisdiction of high reputation, and continue to attract investment and create value-adding jobs. The Government is also committed to ensure Malta’s broadband infrastructure will allow our ambitious goals for the digital economy to be achieved.

We are evaluating the fibre-to-the-home project and will decide on the way forward in the coming weeks. Measures will be taken to streamline interaction between businesses and the Government, and e-business applications will be launched for businesses to work more effectively from their office to comply with government regulations.

Civil society is a main pillar in the development of a digital society, and in establishing an e-democracy. Organisations in this ambit will be key to help us ensure that ICT is used to bring about value to society and targets specific goals and priorities.

We are determined to enhance healthcare e-services, including through the formation of a health-informatics group. We believe in emphasising the importance of our natural heritage through better use of ICT. We will explore, with stakeholders, the possibility of using electronic voting for the local council elections. We will also support Smart City to fulfill its potential to create jobs and improve the economy while promoting green ICT initiatives.

The government administration is a prime mover for the economy and has a critical role in our mission to achieve the digital economy. We are determined to establish a more open and accountable government, and improve public administration and its relationship with the public.

The use of digital tools is essential. The main initiatives to attain our objectives include adopting the open government concept, not only to increase the government’s transparency and accountability, but also to enable citizens to contribute and directly influence the government’s decisions with the online publication of proposed laws.

Another aspect is the online publication of ministry objectives and targets and facilitating, through the provision of effective tools, the citizen’s rights to launch petitions online. The provision of full online video streaming of all Parliamentary sittings will be part of the mandate.
We intend to invest in the government ICT infrastructure and systems to maintain an appropriate level of technological advancement and to capitalise on digital trends. We will address the quality of service and the service level agreements that the government commits to. We will ensure data security is given due importance and that the services being delivered are cost effective and are delivering their intended value.

The Government is committed to make its services more mobile-friendly and to encourage the concept of self-service. In line with current trends, we are committed to increase the adoption of social networks to promote new initiatives and influence government policies while establishing new, and exploit current, strategic alliances to improve the value proposition. Other initiatives include exploring the potential and the application of open source software and cloud computing and promoting ICT centres of excellence.

The Government’s key goal in establishing the digital economy is to attain further economic growth for the benefit of all, and a digital society where everyone is involved.

In full consultation with major stakeholders, the public, with government agencies and authorities, we will set the course for the attainment of the digital economy through the drafting of a number of strategic plans, including the National Strategy for Malta’s Digital Economy.