1-New services for citizens
During May the Ministry of Innovation conducted several activities in line with the character and program on Technology and Information. According to the program published in the website of this Ministry, the government would work in three major measurable objectives: First of all, to increase and promote digital services, e-services for citizens and businesses. Increasing transparency and improving services of the public administration would be priorities according to the principles of the Open Government Partnership Initiative. Secondly, massively introcuding services in education to fill the digital gap and empower young people. Policies would orient towards improving and expanding human capacities in order to increase the number of users as well as the number of domestic offerors of e-services. This would prompt creation of jobs in this area for the Albanian and regional market. Thirdly, consolidation of digital infrastructure in the territory of the Republic of Albania, respecting rigorously European principles of free and fair competition.
Referring to May’s program we were introduced to the newest platform of citizen services, the online portal of services, e-albania, with more than 150 services including 30 state institutions. This initiative comes as a result of the modernization of governance through technology.
According to Ms. Harito’s speech during the launch of the new platform the real challenge is to use these services widely. For this, the smartphone, as one of the biggest asset in people’s hand, will be widely used thus raising accessibility from all strata of society to online services in cooperation with telephone companies, government and regulatory entities to provide internet for everyone.
From the declaration itself we can understand that this initiative is and remains a persistent challenge and much needs to be done, starting with wide internet coverage in remote areas, promoting the use of this platform among citizens and naturally more information for those who need to know more about usage, benefits and guarantees of these services.
This is an initiative that should be positively evaluated as it is needed and in line with contemporary models and in line with European standards of services. It is a considerable and time-consuming investment, as the real challenge comes during the expansion of this service and digitalization of documents in each institution involved in the platform as well as the wide involvement of a number of services at the central and local level. This structure would empower the private and public sector towards measurable results and a more efficient work.
As the Prime Minister emphasized during the launch of this new service platform, through the portal citizens will not need to run from one office to the other to get a service. They will be able to profit from more public services using the computer or a smart phone, which will significantly reduce corruption in our country.
Another good opportunity in the field of education according to the information during the presentation is the process of diploma recognition where every document will pass online to reduce the time of service.
Naturally this is a project that needs years to offer more services, however the most important part is the initiative, the first steps undertaken. The efficiency and work of competent instituitions to ensure the continuity in the imoprovement of citizen services will be seen in the future. We hope the fact that the promotion was done during election campaign does not mean that it will remain another unfulfilled promise.
Any innovation initiative in society remains a challenge, as a tool for development and employment in line with contemporary trends and models from developed countries. Anyway, we welcome positive results.
2- Innovation week
A wide range of activities and new ideas were present in a week dedicated to innovation, from 10 until 17 May with the overarching theme ‘’Innovation in public services’’.
According to the notification and program published on the official website of the Ministry, there would be specific themes such as: innovation in offering public services; electronic communications; banking sector; smart cities etc., as well as young people and innovation.
Among main activities we can mention: Competitions, Technology fair with participants from the region, TEDx and youth conference active in ICT.
In the framework of this week an innovation competition took place, from which 10 best projects were selected with the BDF Health project being the winner, designes by four young people with the aim to lessen stress and tiredness after long hours of work or studies. These projects will continue their race in another competition ‘’Challenge Up’’, organized every year by Deutsche Telekom and Hubraum.
Another competition was ‘’Start up live Tirana’’ known since 4 years now and organized by Unique Junior Enterprise with the direct support of Minister Harito.
These initiatives come in the framework of the program to increase the capacities of young people and they represent a good way to promote young people and their innovative dieas.
These are programs with a special importance for young people who live under the influence of the technological boom and should not be underestimated by the public or development policies. During these competitions and programs new potentials can become noticeable therefore these activities should serve a broader aim in investing and promoting employment by ensuring the proper mediation and support for the creaters of these ideas. The Ministry of Innovation can do more in this sector, since innovative challenges are the basis of the work and function of this institution and it would be in its interest to design, enrich and improve its program and policies in the future.