Croatia aims to become a hub for the ICT and transport sectors following its entry to the Schengen zone and Eurozone at the beginning of this year.
Croatia's ICT industry has been steadily growing in recent years, with the sector contributing around 6% to the country's GDP.
Croatia has made significant progress in both the ICT and the transport sectors over the last decade, said industry experts, speaking at the "Croatia as an important ICT and transport hub of Europe" conference organised by Motus Media.
"In the last ten years, ICT in Croatia has been growing by double digits and is becoming a strategic branch [of the economy],” said Minister of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure Oleg Butkovic.
Several successful ICT companies have emerged from Croatia, including Infobip, a global cloud communications platform provider. Infobip offers a suite of messaging, voice, and chat apps that enable businesses to communicate with customers on a global scale. The company has been recognised as one of the fastest-growing tech companies in Europe.
International venture capital investors have backed other Croatian startups such as Gideon Brothers, a developer of AI and 3D vision-based autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), and maths app PhotoMath, which is being acquired by Google.
ICT infrastructure development
Speaking at the conference, Butkovic assessed the development of ICT infrastructure in Croatia as good, especially mobile and optical communication networks, which he said are among the best in Europe. This will support digitisation, and help achieve goals set out in the new strategy for the development of the digital society until 2032.
However, Butkovic added that Croatia still needs to reach the EU average on the DESI digitisation scale and to ensure rural areas are covered by high-speed networks and the internet.
He commented that: “the problem is not the funds, but the implementation of all these projects, because there are always a lot of complaints and objections from various sources, which slows down the implementation.”
Mislav Galler, Telemacho Hrvatska board member, highlighted the company's large investments in fast, gigabit optical networks, and mobile networks, especially 5G.
Butkovic also argued that the transport and ICT sectors are closely connected.
Among some of the high-tech initiatives in the transport sector, Croatia plans to introduce contactless toll collection on all highways in the country by the end of 2024 or early 2025, with ongoing tender for the project.
Meanwhile, Josip Škorić, president of the Croatian Roads Board, said that Croatian public transport companies have made considerable progress in applying new ICT technologies and digitisation, harmonising with European directives and traffic infrastructures in the EU.