Digital Albania: Government’s Progress Update

Published on March 14, 2024

Albania, a small country in Southeastern Europe, is making decent progress in public administration reform. According to the EGDI report, Albania falls into the upper-middle-income category, having achieved very high OSI levels.

This achievement is attributed to the effective utilisation of robust human capital development and substantial infrastructure improvements. Albania stands out as a country with well-developed infrastructure and a skilled workforce, positioning it to potentially reach a very high EGDI level in the near future. The nation is on a positive trajectory, demonstrating its commitment to further improvement in both human capital and infrastructure.

I believe the recently adopted 2022-2026 Digital Agenda in June 2022 sets the stage for Albania to navigate competitive pressures and market dynamics within the Union. The country has shown a degree of readiness and has been making strides in enhancing competitiveness.

Specifically, there have been commendable advances in structural reforms in the energy sector, improvements in transport infrastructure, strides in digitizing the economy and positive outcomes in education. However, it’s important to note that despite these accomplishments, there are still notable gaps when compared to regional and European benchmarks.

In my view, Albania’s ongoing efforts in these areas signify progress, but there is room for further alignment with regional and European standards.

The commitment to the 2022-2026 digital agenda is a positive step, and continuous focus on addressing these gaps will be crucial for Albania’s sustained growth and competitiveness in the Union.

Citizens thoughts on digital services

According to the eGovernment Benchmark 2023 report, a notable 61% of services in Albania are accessible online, and an encouraging 71% of these services accept eID logins.

However, there’s a noteworthy gap when it comes to cross-border accessibility, with only 14% of services available for users outside the country, which is considerably lower than the EU average of 46%.

Turning to the EGDI report, there has been a significant improvement in e-participation over the past two years. This positive shift has contributed to Albania’s impressive jump in rankings from the 36th place in 2020 to the 22nd place in 2022.

On the business front, satisfaction with public services is on the rise, as indicated by the 2022 Balkan Business Barometer. The survey, conducted annually, reveals that businesses in the region experienced improved satisfaction with public services in both 2021 and 2022, partly driven by increased digitalization.

Notably, more public services are now accessible online, with 31 tax services allowing taxpayers to make online payments to a certain extent. Furthermore, all business license applications can now be submitted online.

However, it’s essential to note the rising concerns about labour shortages. The survey indicates that, despite the positive trends in digitalization and service satisfaction, businesses are facing challenges related to a shortage of workers.

Efforts to establish a comprehensive and digitalized cadastre within the next two years are underway, showcasing Albania’s commitment to further enhance its digital infrastructure.

Where should Albania focus on?

I believe Albania should concentrate its efforts on a few key areas to enhance its digital governance. While the e-Albania platform has seen significant improvements in digitizing service delivery, the closure of contact centres back in 2022 raised concerns, particularly for citizens who may struggle with digital skills or lack access to IT equipment.

Ongoing efforts to improve the online portal’s user experience are also in the works.

Equitable access to services for people with limited digital skills or IT access needs attention. It’s important to make sure everyone can benefit from these digital services, and this includes addressing the concerns of those who might find the technology challenging.

Also, the Albanian School of Public Administration (ASPA) has been working on adapting its training programs, focusing more on EU integration. Although progress has been made, there’s still a need for further efforts to improve both ASPA’s physical and digital infrastructure.

Ensuring that the training programs align with contemporary needs and standards is important for developing a skilled workforce capable of navigating the challenges of the digital era.

Digital security and safeguarding personal data are vital aspects that require increased attention, too. Cybersecurity is of utmost importance, especially after a temporary suspension of digital services due to cyberattacks in 2022.

Strengthening data protection measures and upgrading regulatory frameworks to align with EU standards are steps that I believe would significantly enhance the overall security and resilience of the digital infrastructure.

In light of the cyberattacks and data leaks, the National Agency for Information Society is actively working on improving risk assessment capabilities and business continuity infrastructure.

However, I think it’s imperative for Albania to continue these efforts and consider upgrading its regulatory framework for data protection to align seamlessly with EU standards. This would not only enhance cybersecurity but also establish trust in the digital ecosystem (which is fundamental for a society.)



About the Author

Mohammad J Sear is focused on bringing purpose to digital in government.

He has obtained his leadership training from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, USA and holds an MBA from the University of Leicester, UK.

After a successful 12+ years career in the UK government during the premiership of three Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Tony Blair, Mohammad moved to the private sector and has now for 20+ years been advising government organizations in the UK, Middle East, Australasia and South Asia on strategic challenges and digital transformation.

He is currently working for Ernst & Young (EY) and leading the Digital Government practice efforts across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and is also a Digital Government and Innovation lecturer at the Paris School of International Affairs, Sciences Po, France.

As a thought-leader some of the articles he has authored include: “Digital is great but exclusion isn’t – make data work for driving better digital inclusion” published in Harvard Business Review, “Holistic Digital Government” published in the MIT Technology Review, “Want To Make Citizens Happy – Put Experience First” published in Forbes Middle East.

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