Digital Malta puts forward a set of guiding principles and policy actions of how ICT can be used for socio-economic development. It sets out a path how ICT can be applied to different sectors of the economy and society, and how citizens and businesses can benefit from its application. Digital Malta will bring about better employment opportunities, open up new markets for SMEs and encourage a more entrepreneurial and innovative mindset. It will empower citizens wherever they are and in whatever they are doing, whether at home, at their place of work, for their studies or in their leisure time. Digital Malta also sets out how government can be closer to the citizens through the use of technology and become more efficient in the way public services are delivered.
The seven-year strategy was launched by Hon Prime Minister Dr Joseph Muscat in the presence of Parliamentary Secretary for Competitiveness and Economic Growth, Hon Dr Edward Zammit Lewis.
Dr Muscat said that the Government considers technological advancements as an opportunity to further improve Malta’s economy and competitiveness for the benefit of all: “Digital Malta can take us to the next level whereby we truly achieve a successful digital economy. We can make Malta a central ICT hub that nurtures, creates and enables an entrepreneurial culture which encourages research and innovation.”
Digital Malta is an example of how the Government is listening to stakeholders and citizens - the strategy includes contributions from over 240 people coming from different sectors of society, and incorporates more than 300 proposals and suggestions submitted during numerous workshops, stakeholder meetings and public consultations.
Dr Zammit Lewis said that Digital Malta will facilitate the Government’s plans for economic growth from which everyone can benefit: “From the very start, we said that we’re going to be pro-business and through this strategy we are not only incentivising entrepreneurs within the ICT sector but also those from other sectors to make better use of ICT and become more competitive in today’s digital global markets. We also want to make Malta one of the first Wi-Fi enabled countries in the world and we will achieve this by extending free Internet access points in more localities, public buildings and other places. We will also invest more in our ICT infrastructure to enable the improvements we want in all sectors, including health and education.”
Tony Sultana, MITA’s Executive Chairman explained how the strategy outlines three strategic themes - Digital Citizen, Digital Business and Digital Government and how these are supported by three strategic enablers: Regulation and Legislation, Infrastructure and Human Capital. He said: “For citizens, Digital Malta will mean investment in innovative programmes aimed at enhancing digital literacy as we believe that in this day and age everyone should know how to use and benefit from ICT. It also means an even bigger opportunity for citizens to engage with Government through the use of mobile applications and social media platforms.”
In terms of Digital Business, Mr Sultana explained how local firms must be encouraged and supported to embrace ICT to transform themselves into competitive, export-oriented digital enterprises: “We want to transform the way businesses operate. Digital Malta will increase competitiveness and boost the attractiveness of the local industry by promoting more start-ups, attract foreign investment, enable strategic alliances, encourage angel investment and nurture niche service providers.”
The third strategic pillar, Digital Government, aims to improve the efficiency of the Government through the use of technology and business process reengineering. The goal is to empower public officials to share knowledge and collaboration within the Government and across agencies to serve customers better. The Government is committed to be transparent and to encourage public engagement through the use of digital technologies, social media and crowd sourcing.
Mr Sultana added: “We understand that Government services should be citizen-centric - i.e. designed around the requirements of the people, be more user-friendly and have less red tape. We want to increase the take-up of eGovernment services and we aim to do this by simplifying existing public digital services and make future services accessible on multiple platforms and devices.”