The Digital Leap.
How COVID19 Transformed the Digital Future for the Western Balkans


On 17th December 2020 we are presenting the results of the study “The Digital Leap. How COVID19 Transformed the Digital Future for the Western Balkans”. This study written by Florian Bieber, Director of the Center for Southeast European Studies at the University of Graz is a result of a joint effort of the German Eastern Business Association and partner companies Deutsche Telekom, Nokia, atene KOM, SAP and Klett.

During the event we will present the findings of the study and discuss their meaning for the future of the digital transformation in the Western Balkans.

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About us

The project

Our initiative was established in September 2020 by a consortium of leading European ICT, consulting, and publishing companies operating in the Western Balkans, in attempt to continue and stimulate a multi-stakeholder dialog on digital transformation in the focus economies of the "Berlin process" (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia).

The starting point of the initiative is an evidence based academic study on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Digital Transformation in the Western Balkans.

A follow-up paper providing clear-cut policy recommendations and best practices will be offered and shall serve to facilitate and reinforce the multi-stakeholder dialogue on the digital transformation of the region.

Following a regional approach, our initiative also aims to strengthen and expand the cooperation and dialog in the region as part of the annual regional Western Balkans Digital Summit.


atene KOM

atene KOM GmbH from Berlin accompanies the public sector in project development in the areas of digitalisation, energy, mobility, health and education. We bring municipalities, counties and companies together and jointly develop the infrastructure for the future. Strengthening rural areas is the focus of our work. Together with German and European partners, we work on funding projects, for example for the digitalisation of rural areas, develop smart mobility concepts for local and regional transport or intelligent strategies to promote sustainable development.


Profil Klett

Ernst Klett Publishers – Region Eastern Europe and Baltics is part of the Klett Group, one of Europe’s leading educational enterprises, represented in 18 countries, including the countries of the Western Balkans. The portfolio of Klett companies in Eastern Europe encompasses traditional printed educational materials for students and teachers as well as state-of-the art digital and blended-learning editions, applications and online portals. Playing an active role in the digital transformation thought integration of modern technology in education and through teacher training programmes has been one of Klett’s focuses in the Region for over a decade.



NOKIA creates the technology to connect the world. Only we offer a comprehensive portfolio of network equipment, software, services and licensing opportunities across the globe. With our commitment to innovation, driven by the award-winning Nokia Bell Labs, we are a leader in the development and deployment of 5G networks.
Our communications service provider customers support more than 6.4 billion subscriptions with our radio networks, and our enterprise customers have deployed over 1,300 industrial networks worldwide. Adhering to the highest ethical standards, we transform how people live, work and communicate.
In the region of Western Balkan countries Nokia is very present and reliable partner in ICT transformation and digitalisation. Knowledge and experience make Nokia partner of choice.
For our latest updates, please visit us online and follow us on Twitter @nokia.



The German Eastern Business Association (Ost-Ausschuss der Deutschen Wirtschaft) has 29 partner countries in Central Europe, Eastern and South Eastern Europe and Central Asia and supports its member companies regarding all questions focused on the markets of the partner countries. In close cooperation with the Federal Government of Germany and the governments of the partner countries the German Eastern Business Association has been working on the improvement of the economic framework conditions. Since its set-up in 2014, the German Eastern Business Association has been supporting the successful development and implementation of the so-called Berlin Process, which was initiated by the Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel. The Berlin Process aims at strengthening regional cooperation, exchange and dialogue among all political, economic and societal stakeholders. Against this background the German Eastern Business Association has been organising conferences, studies to enhance further regional cooperation and dialogue. One important aspects of the work of the German Eastern Business Association is dedicated to closing the gap between theoretical and practical education in the frame of its Zoran Djindjic Internship Programme of German Business for the Countries of the Western Balkans wherestudents and young graduates get the opportunities to be trained in the frame of internships in German companies in Germany to increase the employability on the local markets of its partner countries.



SAP’s strategy is to help every business run as an intelligent enterprise. As a market leader in enterprise application software, we help companies of all sizes and in all industries run at their best. Our machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT), and advanced analytics technologies turn customers’ businesses into intelligent enterprises. SAP helps give organizations deep business insight and fosters collaboration that helps them stay ahead of their competition. Our endto-end suite of applications and services enables business and public customers across 25 industries globally to operate profitably and adapt continuously. With a global network of customers, partners, employees, and thought leaders, SAP helps the world run better and improve people’s lives. For more information, visit



Deutsche Telekom is one of the world's leading integrated telecommunications companies, with some 156 million mobile customers, 29 million fixed-network lines, and more than 18 million broadband lines. We provide fixed-network/broadband, mobile communications, Internet, and IPTV products and services for consumers, and information and communication technology (ICT) solutions for business and corporate customers. Makedonski Telekom and Crnogorski Telekom are the market leaders in North Macedonia and Montenegro respectively and belong to Deutsche Telekom Group.

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

Study and Policy Paper

The study was conducted by the Center for Southeast European Studies.
University of Graz
The Centre for Southeast European Studies (CSEES) at the University of Graz was set up in November 2008 following the establishment of Southeastern Europe as a strategic priority at the University of Graz in 2000. The Centre is an interdisciplinary and cross-faculty institution for research and education, established with the goal to provide space for the rich teaching and research activities at the university on and with Southeastern Europe and to promote interdisciplinary collaboration.

CSEES is publishing a peer-reviewed open access online journal "Contemporary Southeastern Europe" and a book series "Southeast European Studies" with Routledge. It also runs a Visiting Fellow program that has included over 60 fellows to date. The policy and research blogs also encourages its researchers to contribute to public outreach activities regularly. The Centre is organizing regular lectures, workshops, conferences, discussions and other events on current topics, including the brownbag seminars series and regular public events.

´Further, and addition to regular teaching, the Centre also coordinates a Joint Master in South East European Studies (with the Universities of Belgrade and partners throughout Europe) and the PhD in Law and Politics, as well as a PhD program on Southeastern Europe.

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Study 2018
The partners of digital WB6+ have commissioned the first study on the impact of digital transformation on the Western Balkans. The study offers the opportunity to address digital transformation with more sound tools that shall contribute to pathing the way to accelerated economic, societal, and cultural growth.
The study and the policy paper can be accessed here:

Study Policy paper

Digital Summit Series

Established in 2018, the regional Western Balkans Digital Summit aims to highlight the paramount impact and potential of digital transformation for businesses and society and elaborate joint activities to boost the Digital Transformation in the region. Until now the following summits took place:

  • 2018, Skopje, Hosted by the Government of North Macedonia
  • 2019, Belgrade, Hosted by the Government of Serbia
  • 2020, Tirana & virtual, Hosted by the Government of Albania
  • This summit is a result of the dialog between the Governments, international bodies, academia, NGOs, and industry. We are very proud to assist and contribute to this process with our joint study.
    During the Summits, numerous high-profile participants from national politics, business, and the EU discussed trends and digitalization ideas. The highlight of the Digital Summit were four panels with experts and newcomers on the most pressing issues of digitization:

  • 1. Digital Environment, Networks and Services, Connectivity and Access
  • 2. Trust and Security
  • 3. Digital Skills
  • 4. Digital Economy and Society
  • Go To Summit