Information and communications technology in Kosovo
Information and communication technology (ICT) in Kosovo has experienced a remarkable development since 1999. From being almost non-existent 10 years ago, Kosovar companies in the information technology (IT) domain offer today wide range of ICT services to their customers both local as well as to foreign companies. Kosovo has the youngest population in Europe, with advanced knowledge in ICT.
Today, public and private education institutions in the IT field, through certified learning curricula by companies such as CISCO and Microsoft, provide education to thousands of young Kosovars while the demand for this form of training is still rising.
Kosovo has two authorized mobile network operators and is the only country in the region not having awarded any UMTS license. Kosovo has neither awarded licenses for fixed wireless access, nor made the 900 and 1800 MHz bands technology neutral. Currently around 1,200,000 customers of “Vala” Post and Telecom of Kosovo (PTK). As of March 2007 the second GSM license granted to IPKO – Telekom Slovenije. Currently IPKO has ca. 300,000 users. Kosovo still does not have its own country code and the network operators in Kosovo use one of three options: Monaco (+377), Slovenia (+386) and Serbia (381).
The infrastructure of ICT sector in Kosovo is mainly built of microwave network, optic and coaxial cable (DOCSIS). The telecom industry is liberalized and legislation is introduced adopting European union(EU) regulatory principles and promoting competition. Some of the main internet providers are PTK, IPKO, Kujtesa and Artmotion
First ICT companies in Kosovo can be found as early 1984, these companies where mainly focused on radio telecommunication and audio-video systems, while in early and mid '90s more companies were created, mainly specializing in personal computer sales. ICT industry in Kosovo boomed after 1999 with a lot of new companies being created, among which IPKO which now one of the major telecommunication providers and one of the biggest foreign investments in Kosovo.
|Joint stock company|
|Ejup Qerimi, Chief Executive Officer|
|limited liability company|
|Robert Erzin, Chief Executive Officer|
|limited liability company|
|Kujtim Gacaferri, Chief Executive Officer|
|Products||Mobile telephony - MVNO|
|limited liability company|
|Milot Gjkolli, Chief Executive Officer|
|Products||Mobile telephony - MVNO|
|limited liability company|
|Arbër Arifi, Chief Executive Officer|
|Internet Service Providers||38|
|International Telecommunication Services||6|
|International Telecommunication Peering||6|
|Fixed Telephony Services||3|
|Mobile Telephony Services - GSM||2|
|MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator)||2|
Mobile penetration is the lowest among the enlargement countries. Two licensed Mobile network operators are offering their services in competition with two MVNOs. The market, however, remains concentrated with the incumbent‟s mobile subsidiary controlling over 65% of the market. Mobile broadband services are not available as no UMTS licenses have been awarded. So far, there are no plans to carry out the re-farming of 900/1800 MHz bands or assign frequency spectrum for mobile broadband.
|PTK SH.a/Vala||30/07/2004||GSM 900/1800 MHz||15 Years|
|IPKO Telecommunications LLC||06/03/2007||GSM 900/1800 MHz||15 Years|
|Dukagjini Telecommunications sh.a. (D3 Mobile)||24/06/2008||MVNO||15 Years|
|Dardaphone.net LLC (Z Mobile)||12/06/2008||MVNO||15 Years|
There are currently three licensed Fixed Telephony providers in Kosovo:
- KONET (leased lines)
PTK is by far the leading provider with market share of 94.4%, IPKO has only 5.6%. Number of subscribers dropped in 2011 to 86,014 from 88,372 in 2010, marking a drop of 2,358 or 2.67% of subscriber base.
Currently in Kosovo there are three country codes being used to provide telecommunication services, none of them are assigned to Kosovo. After a country becomes a United Nations (UN) member, it then becomes an International Telecommunication Union (ITU) member. Following that, technical procedures to assign a country code can begin is the official statement from ITU regarding Republic of Kosovo request for a country code.
In September 2012 Assembly of Kosovo approved a resolution on replacing the current Country Codes in use with an Albanian Country Code +355, this initiative draw a lot of media attention but never saw the light of day.
In January 2016 after ongoing political discussions between Kosovo and Serbia, it was agreed that the Kosovo will get its own country code +383 provided by ITU. This code will be available for all mobile and fixed-line operators, which are already using other international telecom country code.
Total of 38 licensed companies provide internet services in Kosovo, 6 of them with direct peering towards international gateways. Number of technologies are used to provide internet to end users, most popular being the cable DOCSIS technology with 68.95% of the market, followed by 25.43% xDSL and 5.62% other technologies like FTTX and wireless.
In contrast with other countries, majority of market share is owned by private operators, with a total of 74.57%. The biggest operator being IPKO with 51.21% followed by Kujtesa with 19.08% and PTK with 25.43%.
Internet penetration in Kosovo is in the process of steady development due to healthy competition and mainly due to government policies and strategies adopted with the aim to reach the maturity of the neighboring countries and EU integration. Broadband internet access accounts for the majority of internet connections, with ADSL, cable and wireless available.
Internet penetration in Kosovo is somewhere between 5.40% to 20.90% depending on which report you look at. This miss-balance report is attributed mainly to rural areas where internet access is not formally offered but is rather resold formally by smaller operators, though the latest study conducted by XYZ puts internet penetration in Kosovo at 72.1% which is very close to EU countries, which reported internet penetration of 73% in 2011.
Digital television transition is still an ongoing process in Kosovo, limiting the analog television broadcast domain to only three national channels. Due to this conditions all four major telecommunications companies in Kosovo now broadcast digital TV on other mediums. While IPKO and Kujtesa have chosen to reuse the existing coaxial network, PTK which offers xDSL services went for IPTV, Artomotion offers digital TV to selected users in Pristina. IPKO has recently launched an IPTV solution, tailored towards mobile customers. Currently platform is available in iOS, Android and via a web browser.
Due to missing 3G/LTE licenses in Kosovo, and a growing demand for mobile broadband services from subscribers, both telecommunication providers PTK and IPKO turned to Municipal wireless network (Muni Wi-Fi). Both operators cover the majority of cities around Kosovo and touristic destinations like Prekaz and Brezovica, with more cities to be covered later.
Kosovo Internet Exchange Point
The Internet Exchange Point (KOSIX), the first of its kind in Kosovo, started operating on 23 June 2011, and it operates as a functional unit within Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA). Its function is to provide the ISPs operating in Kosovo, an Internet exchange point for local traffic exchange. Valuable and continuous contributions for the implementation of this project have given: United States Agency for International Development (USAID) offered throughout their program Kosovo Private Enterprise Program (KPEP), Norwegian government offered through Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Norwegian embassy respectively, Cisco Systems International BV, and University of Prishtina which have offered adequate space within the buildings of Electrical and Computer Engineering Faculty.
|ISP Name||AS Number|
ICT in Kosovo consists of relatively young companies (most of them incorporated after 1999) and with predominantly small companies with less than 20 employees. 53.8 percent of ICT companies are individual business while limited Liability Company (28.6 percent). Businesses specializing in maintenance and manufacturing are purely individual, while other sub-sectors are served by a mix of individual and LLC businesses. Other forms of incorporation are rare, with 4.4 percent being Limited Partnership, and 2.2 percent Joint-Stock Company. The rest (5.5) are either public companies or have the unusual status of NGOs. Currently, the ICT companies are determined to grow and prosper within the Kosovo market, while very few companies seek expansion in markets outside Kosovo.
According to TRA report, ICT industry generated €239,518,037.36, 83.19 of which is generated by Mobile network operator, 8.37% from Fix telephony operators, 7.77% from Internet service providers and 0.68% from leased lines.
The structure of the ICT market in Kosovo is diverse in the variety of activities, sales being the main activity 62 percent of the ICT companies have reported to import goods for retail, meanwhile their exports are minimal and their market share growth is seen to be within Kosovo, and could reach as far as Macedonia and Albania. The average annual turnover in the sector is 250,000 Euros, with an increasing number of companies reporting turnovers in millions of Euros.
- Sales - 33%
- Retail Sales - 18.7%
- Maintenance and Repair - 17.6%
- Software Development - 13.2%
- Consulting - 7.7
- ISP - 7.7%
- Training - 5.5%
- Engineering Services - 4.4%
The ICT sector is dominated by domestic firms. According to the survey, 80.2 percent of the respondents represented companies that are 100% domestically owned. Only 6.6 percent of the companies are entirely owned by foreigners. Mixed ownership is rare (3.3 percent). The other 3.3 percent that answered “Other” were either mostly owned by foreign companies or public/state-owned companies. Foreign investors are mostly present in the sub-sectors: consulting, information services, vendors, manufacturing/assembling, and retail.
Size and Employment
The majority of ICT companies is small. More than three-quarters (77.1 percent) employ from one to twenty employees. Only a handful of the companies have more than 100 employees. Most of the employees working in the ICT sector are male, leaving the female employees in a tiny minority. Around 19 percent of the companies do not have any female employees at all. Over 93 per cent employ up to 10 women, 6 per cent of the firms employ between 11 and 20, and only 1.4 percent up to 30. There is one large company which employs 230 female workers.
|Job Title||Number of employees||(%)||Average Salary|
|Telecomm. Network Engineers||123||14.8%||450|
|Software and Application Programmers||76||9.2%||487|
|ICT Project Managers||65||7.8%||507|
|Web Designers and Developers||42||5.1%||550|
|ICT Sales Representatives||39||4.7%||316|
|Database Developers||27||3.3%||No Answer|
|ICT Business Development Managers||22||2.7%||683|
|ICT Account Manager||21||2.5%||550|
|Database Administrators||20||2.4%||No Answer|
|ICT and Telecomm. Technicians||18||2.2%||230|
|ICT Professionals (vendor certifications)||17||2.1%||600|
|Telecommunications Field Engineers||15||1.8%||No Answer|
|Web Administrators||14||1.7%||No Answer|
|Network Analysts and Network Designers||11||1.3%||450|
|Multimedia Designers||11||1.3%||No Answer|
|Electronic Equipment Trades Workers||11||1.3%||400|
|Telecommunications Cable Technicians||10||1.2%||No Answer|
|ICT Business Analysts||10||1.2%||No Answer|
|Radio communications Technicians||9||1.1%||230|
|ICT Network and Support Professionals||8||1.0%||No Answer|
|ICT Systems Test Engineers||7||0.8%||No Answer|
|Telecommunications Trade Workers||6||0.7%||No Answer|
|Systems Analysts||6||0.7%||No Answer|
|ICT Support Technicians||6||0.7%||300|
|ICT Quality Assurance Engineers||6||0.7%||325|
|ICT Security Specialists||4||0.5%||No Answer|
|ICT Customer Support Officers||4||0.4%||No Answer|
Kosovo Association of information and technology (STIKK)
According to statute, STIKK is a non-profit association founded and registered in accordance with the Law on Freedom of Association and Non-Governmental Organization. STIKK represents the interests of the information and communications technology of Kosova, and the interests of professionals in ITC industry.
The increasing number of vacancies for ICT professionals in Kosovo is reflecting the increasing progress of the industry, although thanks to the high quality of the university education of IT specialists, and the increasing interest of young people in modern technologies, there are no signs of systematic shortages in ICT employment, except a registered under-supply of specialists in the field of software development and programming. The number of ICT graduates grows each year and the leader in providing the needed skills to the industry is the Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering of the University of Pristina. ICT skilled professionals are also supplied by the University for Business and Technology, the American University in Kosovo, as well as a few vocational education providers.
The State University of Pristina
- Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering,
- Faculty of Natural Sciences, Department of Computer Science,
- Faculty of Applied Technical Sciences, Mitrovica.
The State University of Prizren
- American University in Kosovo - has since 2003 an Information Technology program in bachelor studies,
- University for Business and Technology - has an ICT related program both in bachelor and master studies.
- AAB Riinvest - has an ICT related program - Software Engineering in bachelor studies, and also the same one in the master studies.
- European College Dukagjini - has two bachelor programs related to ICT as of 2011: Management and Informatics, and Applied Informatics.
- College Iliria - has two programs related to ICT: Management and Informatics, and Applied Informatics. Even though they have few master programs, none of them is related to ICT.
- Vizioni Per Arsim has a bachelor program related to ICT:– Computer Science.
- Professional training centers and academies (Cisco, Microsoft, ECDL, Oracle, RedHat etc.)
- Universities abroad.
For a short period Kosovo has managed to adopt few very important pieces of legislation and a strategic framework to support the government’s efforts to regulate, promote and improve the development of the ICT sector in Kosovo. Some of the most important legislative acts that have influenced the progress of the sector are:
- Telecommunications law. – Adopted in 2002, the law governs all telecommunications services and all telecommunications service providers in Kosovo. The main objective of the Telecommunications law is to create a transparent legal and regulatory environment for the promotion of more investments in the sector and encourage competition.
- Law on Information Society Services. – Approved in 2005 with the aim of enabling the legal use of electronic documentation, and facilitate the implementation of e-commerce, e-signature and personal data protection.
- Law on Administrative Procedure – created to control the electronic implementation of the activities of public administration.
- Law on Copyright and Related Rights.
- Law on Scientific Research Activity.
- Law on the Protection of Personal Data.
- Law on Prevention and Fight against Cyber Crime.
- Law for Privacy and Database Access.
- Law on Digital Signatures
- Postal Services Law
- eSEE Agenda Plus for the Development of Information Society in SEE 2007-2012 - Kosovo is an active member of the regional eSEE Initiative - (Electronic South East Europe). The main objective of the initiative is to integrate SEE countries into the global, knowledge-based economy through development of the Information Society, in line with the EU i2010 framework.
- National Strategy for Information Society 2006-2012 – The Strategy was adopted by the Government of Kosovo in 2006.
- Electronic Governance Strategy 2009-2015 – Published by the Department of Information Technology of the Ministry of Public Services of Kosovo in 2008, ensuring the provision of governmental institutions’ services through information technology and communication (WAN, Internet, mobile network) to citizens, businesses and others.
- E-learning Strategy for Kosovo 2011 - 2015 – Prepared by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology with the main objective to transform e-learning into an integral part of the overall national educational system.
- Strategy for Development of Pre-university Education 2007–2017 – Adopted by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and used as a basis for the development of the education system of Kosovo.
- Kosovo Education Strategic Plan 2011-2016 – Drafted in September 2010, the Strategic Plan is going to include eight priority programs among which are Capacity Building and Information and Communication Technology. The objective implemented in the ICT program is to fully develop and integrate ICT infrastructure and technical support needed to implement and sustain good educational practices.
Regulatory Authority of Electronics and Postal Communication
Law on Telecommunications adopted by the Assembly and promulgated by UNMIK, Regulation 2003/16,recognizes the need to improve the telecommunications sector of Kosovo, by establishing an independent regulatory agency responsible for licensing and supervising the providers of telecommunications services in Kosovo, encouraging the private sector participation and competition in the provision of services; setting standards for all service providers in Kosovo, and, establishing provisions for consumer protection. TRA officially started operating in January 2004. During its young development TRA went through some important milestones that represented a very important step towards a free, competitive market which promotes the development of the information society in Kosova.
Due to the overly young population in Kosovo, digital divide is not very notable, this phenomenon is more notable with people in their fifties and above. This problem was evident with the educational system as well, to address this Government of Kosovo organized an ECDL course for about 27000 teachers across Kosovo.
Most ICT firms are based in the Pristina, the economic, political, and social center of the country, where most businesses are located and where there is the highest concentration of customers,as much as 81 percent of all ICT companies have Prishtina as their head office location. The rest are fairly evenly spread out in the regional centers: Peja, Prizren, Gjilan, Gjakova, Podujeva, and Ferizaj.
Over the years there have been a number of open source organizations including Albanian Linux user group (AlbaLinux). Due to lack of support, most of them are now "passive"; among the most active and successful open source groups is Free Libre Open Source Software Kosova (FLOSSK).
- Free Libre Open Source Software Kosova (FLOSSK)
FLOSSK began in March 2009 at the initiative of James Michael DuPont as a result of the desire to organize a conference on free and open software. After six difficult months and with the help of many supporters, FLOSSK organized the first conference of free and open software in Kosovo in August 2009. Apart from the conference, FLOSSK continued to work in various activities such as organizing Software Freedom Days in different cities of Kosovo, lectures on free software throughout Kosovo, translating software, collaborating with the media to promote free software and creating local free software groups in various cities. From the beginning, FLOSSK members and the general public learned about GNU/Linux operating system, FLOSS programs for solving everyday problems, map creation using OpenStreetMap, and met free software movement figures from around the world.
- Software Freedom Kosova
Software Freedom Kosova Conference is an annual conference on free and open source software and related developments in knowledge, culture and mapping held in Pristina, Kosovo. It is the largest conference of its kind in the region. The conference is organised by Free/Libre Open Source Software Kosova (FLOSSK), Kosovo Association of Information and Communication Technology, Ipko Foundation and Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering of the University of Prishtina.
A case study on ICT training in Kosovo performed by CISCO Networking Academy (NetAcad) states that the educated and experienced workforce as a whole is searching higher salaries and better working conditions abroad. If graduates are not experienced, they stay for a while in Kosovo and when they have gained experience they start searching opportunities for migration.
It is exactly the findings that NetAcad case study revealed that make Kosovo a perfect ICT outsourcing country, and time difference with the USA makes it only more appealing for the U.S. market. Such is a story of 3CIS which provides highly specialized services to major telecommunication carriers across the globe. This includes network architecture design, planning, consulting, implementation,integration and testing with a strong expertise on mobile backhauling. 3CIS also provides on-site consulting ser- vices as well as manages and coordinates the activities in a multi-vendor environment during the life-cycle of the complete project. On top of this, 3CIS also offers Project management services that are tailored to suit client needs from initial planning to project completions.
Kosovo has made it to other markets as well, both individually as well as established companies. Sprigs is the best example of a Kosovar start-up company established in Pristina. Anoniem is the highest-profile job to date for SPRIGS, which was founded in late 2010, by a Dutch entrepreneur, and this job was trusted to a half-dozen young Kosovar Albanian programmers, who work at computers at a repurposed apartment that now houses the technical brain trust of this IT outsourcing company.
- Economy of Kosovo
- Education in Kosovo
- American University in Kosovo
- Universiteti i Prishtinës
- University of Prizren
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- "About KOSIX". KOSIX. 2012. Retrieved 2013-02-18.
- "Members KOSIX". KOSIX. 2012. Retrieved 2013-02-18.
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- "Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering". Retrieved 2013-02-24.
- "Faculty of Natural Sciences, Department of Computer Science". Retrieved 2013-02-24.
- "Faculty of Applied Technical Sciences, Mitrovica". Retrieved 2013-02-24.
- "Faculty of Computer Science". Retrieved 2013-02-24.
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- "Vizioni Per Arsim". Retrieved 2013-02-24.
- "Telecommunications law" (PDF). The Assembly of Kosovo. 2011. Retrieved 2013-02-20.
- "Law on the information society services" (PDF). The Assembly of Kosovo. 2005. Retrieved 2013-02-20.
- "The law on administrative procedure" (PDF). Assembly of Kosovo. 2011. Retrieved 2013-02-21.
- "Law on copyright and related rights" (PDF). Assembly of Kosovo. 2004. Retrieved 2013-02-21.
- "Law on scientific research activity" (PDF). Assembly of Kosovo. 2004. Retrieved 2013-02-21.
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- "Electronic governance strategy 2009-2015" (PDF). Ministry of Public Services Department of Information Technology. 2008. Retrieved 2013-02-21.
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- Kosova Association of Information and Communication Technology
- Free Libre Open Source Software Kosova
- Regulatory Authority of Electronics and Postal Communication
- Kosovo Internet Exchange
- IPKO Foundation
- Innovation Centre Kosovo (ICK)
- Innovations Lab Kosovo