Orban: Central Europe’s digital economy to rise in coming 10-15 years
Budapest, October 12 (MTI) – Central Europe will have an increased role in digital economy as the region will be the engine of growth in the European Union in the next 10 to 15 years, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said at the World Telecom conference, opened in Budapest on Monday.
Hungary has produced the highest growth rate in the digital economy in the EU and its weight within the national economy is above the EU average, Orban said at the opening.
The digital economy accounts for 21-22 percent of Hungary’s gross domestic product (GDP) and the sector provides jobs for 400,000, or 15 percent of all Hungarian employees, Orban said. Based on these numbers, Hungary’s digital economy ranks third in the EU, behind Ireland and Finland, he added.
Rapid changes in the modern world pose challenges to democratic political systems, he said, adding that people must not feel they have “lost control over the development of the world”. To this end, Hungary has introduced national consultations on important strategic issues such as a national consultation on the internet and how they would like it to develop. Among the most important tasks identified were the protection of children, stricter enforcement of regulations and increased government support for digital development, Orban said.
Since 2010, some 1,100 businesses have received support for IT developments and the allocation will be increased eight-fold in the next few years, he said. A total of 130 billion forints will be spent on infocommunications development, benefitting 8,000 companies, he added.
More than 8 percent of Hungary’s exports stem from the digital economy and a significant 10 percent of spending on research and development is focused on this sector, he said.
The ITU Telecom World conference will focus on small and medium-sized enterprises, ITU secretary General Houlin Zhao said at a press conference on Sunday. The International Telecommunication Union is marking its 150th anniversary and Hungary is a founding member, Zhao said.
The three-day conference is expected to attract more than 3,000 participants from 65 countries, state secretary for ICT and consumer protection Akos Kara said.