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Broadband Internet Contributes to New Investments

All the services that we provide in an electronic format are conceived to provide entrepreneurs/ business owners with simpler and swifter access to documents issued by the CCIS on the basis of public authorisation

The EU recently passed a large raft of legislation aimed at regulating the digital single market: Digital Services Act (DSA), Digital Markets Act (DMA), AI Act, B2C rules etc. This prompted us to start this interview by asking the Secretary of the CCIS Association of Electronic Communications and Information Society, Jelena Jovanović, how aligned the country’s legislative framework is with the EU’s Digital Single Market Strategy, and what business leaders have recognised as priorities.

“Digital technologies, and the internet in particular, are transforming our world, and the European Commission wants to prepare the European Single Market for the digital age – by transitioning from 28 national digital markets to one,” explains our interlocutor. “The Digital Single Market (DSM) creates new opportunities by eliminating differences between the online and offline worlds, breaking down barriers to cross-border internet activities.”

The Digital Single Market Strategy was adopted on 6th May 2015 and is one of the European Commission’s 10 policy priorities. It comprises three pillars, the first of which relates to improving access to digital goods and services, followed by the environment in which digital networks and services can prosper, and the digital aspect as a driver of growth aimed at maximising the growth potential of Europe’s digital economy.

How far has Serbia advanced in that process?

— Businesspeople have recognised priorities like improving cross-border e-commerce and electronic exchanges of business documents. On the other hand, it is necessary for there to be more information security education and more educational programmes to improve employees’ digital skills.

The Government of the Republic of Serbia recently announced plans to adopt a Law on Artificial Intelligence based on the EU model. In which ways has the CCIS been included to date in the adopting of the strategy for artificial intelligence and meeting the goals stipulated in action plans?

— Serbia adopted its first Strategy for the Development of Artificial Intelligence in 2019, covering the period from 2020 to 2025, becoming the first country to do so in Southeast Europe and the 26th worldwide. Given AI’s development over the previous year, it became essential to improve the strategy, which is why the development of a new one was launched and will cover the period up to 2030.

Together with its members, the CCIS is itself a member of the Working Group for Implementation of the Artificial Intelligence Development Strategy, and we encourage development of an AI ecosystem in Serbia via our Centre for Digital Transformation (CDT), as well as by implementing a support programme for the implementation of AI-based digital business solutions.

On the basis of analysis of the current state of the IT sector ecosystem, especially the AI ecosystem, and the availability of AIbased software solutions, CDT made the strategic decision to establish a new support programme aimed at the IT community and dealing with the development of innovative AI-based software solutions. This programme aims to help SMEs operating in Serbia implement business intelligence through the automation of business operations and the provision of support in the strategic, business decision-making and planning phases. This programme should ultimately contribute to increasing the efficiency, productivity, profitability and competitiveness of Serbian SMEs on the local market, but particularly on the international market.

High-quality internet signal coverage for all parts of Serbia is a prerequisite for automating processes and applying artificial intelligence. Do you think the extending of broadband internet coverage to less developed parts of Serbia will contribute to domestic and foreign investors redirecting their investments to these parts of the country?

The project to develop broadband communication infrastructure in Serbia’s isolated rural areas is introducing high-speed internet to 700 rural communities and villages and will include almost 120,000 households and 700 schools, with 4,700 kilometres of fibreoptic cables installed.

According to World Bank analysis, every 10% increase in highspeed internet coverage on the territory of a country causes a 1.3- 1.4% increase in gross domestic product. Considering that highspeed internet coverage in our country stands at 75%, and that the competent ministry plans for it to be 99%, we can expect a significant GDP increase of around 3.2-3.3%.

We encourage development of an ai ecosystem in Serbia, as well as implementing a support programme for the implementation of ai-based digital business solutions

Expanding broadband internet coverage to less developed parts of Serbia contributes to reducing the digital divide between rural and urban areas by providing citizens with access to all e-services, both those of the state and those of companies. It also enables companies to apply new technologies in their daily operations and thus increase productivity.

The Government of Serbia was previously acknowledged for its outstanding successes in the digital transformation domain, the development of the IT sector and the laying of the foundations of the BIO4 Campus. How are these efforts being supported by the CCIS?

— BIO4 comes from the four ‘bio’s: biomedicine, biotechnology, bioinformatics and biodiversity. The future tenants of the BIO4 campus are the faculties of Biology, Pharmaceuticals, Chemicals, Medicine, Agriculture, Technology and Metallurgy, as well as the Faculty of Sports and Physical Education, the Institute of Molecular Genetics and Genetic Engineering, the Institute for Multidisciplinary Research, the Institute for the Application of Nuclear Energy, the Institute for Medical research, the Institute for Biological Research, the Institute for Artificial Intelligence Research and Development, the Institute of Chemistry, Technology and Metallurgy, the Institute for Cardiovascular Diseases and the BioSense Institute.

BIO4 is actually a collaboration platform. The fact that its tenants will include seven university faculties, nine institutes, the research and development centres of major domestic and international companies, a business park for development and start-up communities testifies to how essential it is to connect science and the economy in order to achieve top results.

What has the CCIS done to make its services available to business leaders in an electronic format?

— All the services that we provide in an electronic format are conceived to provide entrepreneurs/business owners with simpler and swifter access to documents issued by the CCIS on the basis of public authorisation. The CCIS e-Services portal enables requests for the issuance of documents to be carried out entirely electronically. Accessing formal assurances, confirmations and opinions requires just a few clicks. The same applies to the issuance or certification of import-export documents, and the CCIS is also an issuer of qualified electronic certificates.

We enable our members to access the Inno-Verse platform, which is fully AI-based, while businesses can also take advantage of BizChat CCIS, a virtual AI assistant that offers answers to numerous questions that are important for doing business.

DIVIDE

Expanding broadband internet coverage to less developed parts of Serbia contributes to reducing the digital divide between rural and urban areas

ADVANTAGES

Businesspeople have recognised priorities like improving crossborder e-commerce and electronic exchanges of business documents

SERVICES

All e-services we provide are conceived to provide business owners with simpler and swifter access to documents issued by the CCIS on the basis of public authorisation