Policy area

Information and communication technologies

Sustainable development goals and international commitments

The growth of new industries, information and communication technologies is gaining in importance. Sustainable investments in their development boost innovation and entrepreneurship. The investment in infrastructure and innovation is one of the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) of the Agenda 2030 (SDG 9 – Industry, innovation and infrastructure). One of the anticipated outcomes under SDG 9 is, among others, considerable increase in access to information and communication technologies (ICT) and investing efforts to ensure universal and cheap Internet access in the least developed countries by 2020.  Namely, at the global level, more than 4 billion people still do not have Internet access, 90% live in developing countries. Internet access and ICT development are essential for equal access to information and knowledge required for sustainable development.

Specifically for Montenegro, information and communication infrastructure development is a precondition for reducing regional disparities and further development of the northern region. ICT is an important sector conducive to industrial development, economic growth and employment (SDG 8), and is closely linked with the education policy – development of information knowledge and skills (SDG 4), but also with building effective and transparent administration (SDG 16) citizen- and business-oriented.

The National Sustainable Development Strategy 2016-2030 nationalises sustainable development goals. The key sub-measures directly and indirectly linked with ICT include: Increase IT literacy of youth and adults SDG 4 (4.5). (…)Encourage and develop new and flexible forms of unemployment of young people (…)such as social entrepreneurship, star-up, rural tourism, urban gardening, green jobs, creative industries, ICT services, online sale, etc., SDG 1.4, SDG 8 (8.b). Ensure modern ICT infrastructure – quality broadband approach to Internet for all citizens and companies. Improve the transparency of the governance using information and communication technologies, as well as the possibilities of electronic administration and use of the portal «e-government» in order to provide electronic information and electronic participation (…) SDG 16 (16.6, 16.7). Further develop e-government portal as the central web window for access to the administration services at the national and local level, SDG 16 (16.6, 16.10), SDG 17 (17.14, 17.18, 17.19).

Given that one of the NSDS goals is to strengthen entrepreneurial and business infrastructure for the development of entrepreneurship and SMEs by 2030, one of the goals pursued by this policy will be to increase the number of SMEs providing predominantly information society services, within the framework of business zones, thus affirming the significance of ICT for GDP growth, as stated in the NSDS.

EU acquis chapters

Obligations in the EU accession process

An overview of obligations from negotiation chapters

Montenegro opened Chapter 10 – Information society and media.  The EU Acquis in this area aims to remove all obstacles to ensure effective functioning of the internal market of electronic-communication services and networks, but also promote competition and consumer protection.

Montenegro did not have any opening benchmarks for this chapter, while it has two closing benchmarks:

1) Montenegro brings its legislation in the line with the acquis as regards the provisions on the independence of the National Regulatory Authority for electronic communications as well as the acquis in the area of audiovisual media services.

2) Montenegro demonstrates that it will have sufficient administrative capacities for enforce the acquis in the fields of electronic communications, information society services and audiovisual media services, including as regards regulatory independence, by the time of accession.

The Acquis contains specific rules on electronic communication, information society services, and in particular, e-commerce, conditional access services and audiovisual services.

In the innovative methodology of EU accession, information and communication policies are part of cluster 3 “Competitiveness and inclusive growth”.

Apart from specific obligations in this chapter, digital integration of the Western Balkan countries in the process of their EU integration is one of 4 components of the Multiannual Action Plan for the Regional Economic Area at the Western Balkans – MAP REA, within the framework of the Berlin Process. In this regard, the Digital Agenda for the Western Balkans was launched in June 2018 at the Sofia Summit and, among other things, it includes the abolishment of roaming prices within the region by the end of 2021. Following the signing of the Regional Roaming Agreement in 2019, Montenegro signed a Memorandum of Understanding in November 2020 on a roadmap for the 5G digital transformation of the six economies of the Western Balkans. The prices of roaming services throughout the region have continued to fall, and users have been charged for roaming services as in the home network since July.

The latest report of the European Commission for Montenegro (2021) noted limited progress in the area of information technology and electronic communications. The report states that results need to be established to demonstrate the administrative capacity to translate the EU acquis for electronic communications, information society services and in particular audio-visual media services, including in terms of regulatory independence.

It is important to mention that the EC Report on Montenegro for 2019 highlighted that legislative and infrastructural barrier make it difficult to achieve the goals for broadband access (ie basic broadband access for the entire population during 2018 and high-speed broadband access of 30 Mbit / s or faster by 2020). In addition, low population density and difficult topography are challenging as they increase the cost of expanding broadband access, discouraging investment in less populated areas. Namely, during 2018, 72.2% of households and 99.2% of companies (with 10 or more employees) had access to the Internet. While in the year only 8% of small and medium enterprises sold online. For comparison, it should be borne in mind that the EU average is 17%. This is important because the development of IT skills and the increased use of information and communication technologies can increase the competitiveness of Montenegrin companies and facilitate their access to foreign markets.

In the EC Report on Montenegro for 2020 it is noted that the recommendations of the previous report remain to be fully met

EU Strategic framework

Digital Agenda for Europe is one of seven flagship initiatives of the Europe 2020 strategy. The Digital Agenda aspired to sustainable growth through the single digital market based on high speed and ultra-high speed internet and interoperable applications with broadband access for all by 2013 and the access to greater internet speeds (30 Mbps and above) for all by 2020. One of the goals was to have at least 50% European households subscribed to internet connections above 100 Mbps.

High-speed internet is essential for innovation and online knowledge transfer and online distribution of goods and services. In addition, special attention is given to coverage of rural areas. In order to achieve the above goals, apart from the EU-level efforts, member states were supposed to develop their operational strategies, establish legal frameworks for coordinating public works to cut costs for network development, but also to promote the use of modern accessible services such as e-Government, e-Health, smart homes, digital skills, safety.

The Political Guidelines of the new EC focus also on the issues of digitisation – A Europe fit for the digital age. Europe will strive to grasp al benefits of digitisation, but mindful of safety and ethical issues, with setting the standards for new generation of technology that could be the world standards.

The key steps ahead concern the issue of investments in artificial intelligence with a well-concerted European approach to ethical issues arising from its. Secondly, the new Digital Services Act will upgrade the EU rules concerning liability and safety for digital platforms, services and products and complete the Digital Single Market. Finally, the political guidelines highlight that the public sector has a major role to play in digitalisation, and the EC itself will work more on the use of digital methods and digital diplomacy tools.

International indicators

Competitiveness index

(World economic forum) ICT and e-Government

Global innovation index

The Global Innovation Index

SDG index

e.g. % of population with access to internet

Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI)

For the EU member states only

Montenegro's strategic framework

Current strategy papers
Expired strategy papers

ICT in Montenegro’s strategic framework

The ICT development is recognised as a priority, both in the umbrella, and in the sector-specific strategy papers covering diverse areas, including information society, good governance, health, education, science, industry and judiciary. These priorities are aligned with the EU goals set in the Digital Agenda 2020 and the Digital Single Market strategy.

The Government’s Work Program for 2021, within the priority “Education and knowledge-based society”, frames the commitment to economic and social development based on innovation and strong scientific research. In 2021, it is planned to improve the national innovation system by increasing partnerships in the innovation system by 10% and support for early development of start-ups and support them in creation of new products and projects. Priority 5 “Digital Transformation” focuses on improving the business environment and the development of e-government services through the use of electronic documents in legal transactions and court issues, with the introduction of 5 new electronic services. In 2021, trainings are planned for at least 500 unemployed people for deficit occupations in the IT sector.

The Economic Reform Program (2021-2023) envisages the improvement of the legislative framework (in accordance with the EU Directive 2014/61) and the further development of broadband internet as a precondition for further digitalization. By 2023, 95% of households are projected to be in areas where a new generation network is available. It is also planned to encourage the implementation of the S3 strategy through the strengthening of support mechanisms for science and innovation (1.3 million by 2023) and support for structural projects S3 and Green Plan (2 million by 2023 through the establishment of centers of excellence).

ICT has a very important place in the policy of good governance, and in the previous period one of the priorities was better positioning of e-government as a single point of access to electronic services, establishing a single information system for data exchange between state and state administration bodies, creating conditions for establishing a “one stop government”, increasing the number of electronic services. The latter was highlighted as a priority within the Report on the implementation of the Program of Association of Montenegro for 2018, where it is planned to increase the number of electronic services by 10% by 2021 (compared to 2020). Digitalisation is an attempt to improve the level of efficiency of government, to improve the level of e-Democracy, user satisfaction with electronic services. We note that this is in line with the aspirations of the new EC to show by its example how digital tools contribute to transparency and efficiency.

As the issue of digitalization is horizontal, it has found its example in health care. The previous period was marked by aspirations as the establishment of automation of services in health care, which through the introduction of telemedicine and e-Health services to cover certain activities (cardiology, radiology, emergency medical care). One of these activities in this part is the introduction of an electronic health card.

“Digitalized Montenegro” is one of the horizontal strategic directions of the Smart Specialization Strategy. It is in line with other sectoral strategies. This horizontal priority of the S3 strategy is based on better infrastructure, digital economy and information security. As such, it provides information technology support to other priority sectors of S3 – sustainable agriculture and food value chain, energy and sustainable environment, sustainable and health tourism. The improvement and application of ICT is important for economic growth because it helps the development of trade, and contributes to a better use of capital.

When it comes to other spheres covered by the Information Society Development Strategy, such as e-government, e-services, e-Government portals and their use – they are implemented through other sectoral documents such as the Public Administration Reform Strategy 2016-2020 and the Open Government Partnership initiative.

As mentioned earlier, ICT has also found its application in healthcare, through online scheduling of examinations, issuing e-prescriptions, e-findings (see also the Strategy for Developing Integral Health Information System and E-Health Services 2018-2023), but also in the field of education portal for teachers, training of teaching staff in computer skills, etc.).

Aware of the benefits of the development of information and communication technologies, one should keep in mind the phenomenon of increasing “digital exclusion”. It is necessary to consider the issue of digitalization from the socio-economic aspect in order to eliminate the growing “digital gap” that exists in the rural-urban relationship, or depending on the income or education of the population.

Other policy areas in the same sector