IT Growth is Bright Spot for Bosnia’s Economy

Bosnia's IT sector has started to flourish during the past few years and represents a rare growth area in the economy of the country, experts in the field say.

"Bosnia has excellent experts working in this sector and can provide top-quality IT services," Isan Selimovic, director of the company QSS, told BIRN on Tuesday.

Founded shortly after the war, in 1997, QSS has become a leading company in Southeast Europe for Cloud, Software Development and System Integration.

It has developed partnerships with global leaders in the sector such as Adobe, Microsoft, Symantec and Cisco among others.

The company employs 30 persons and is planning to expand, Selimovic said, noting that the sector represents an opportunity for the Bosnian economy.

"These are exciting times for us as we are planning to expand our activities and hire another 20 persons," Selimovic said, adding that all his employees are Bosnians.

The number of IT companies and startups in Bosnia is growing steadily, and around 1,400 companies are now working in information and communications, as well as computer programming, according to the Foreign Investment Promotion Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, FIPA.

This trend is not limited only to Bosnia but is common to the Balkan region, where a new generation of young and qualified professionals are creating their own projects, having often worked for years for foreign companies that outsource to Eastern Europe.

Sarajevo-based IT professional Milad Cerkic, CEO of an IT company called ATLANTBiH, said his company was now focusing on its own projects after working for foreign companies for some years.

"We have started creating more and more on our own projects, having only provided services for foreigners," Cerkic told BIRN.

ATLANTBiH was founded in 2000 and has developed various services, ranging from mapping and data location to an app, Navigator.ba, which helps people discover the city of Sarajevo.

In the past five years, the IT sector in Bosnia has seen its revenues grow by 72 per cent, Nina Probic, head of the Investment Promotion Department of FIPA, told BIRN on Thursday.

"This is one of the fastest growing sectors in the Bosnian economy and now contributes 150 million KM[75 million euro] to our GDP.

"The income of companies operating in this sector has increased by 60 per cent compared to 2010 and the number of persons working in this sector by 67 per cent," Probic told BIRN.

Despite its obvious successes, the sector is still far from being mature and conditions for the further education of specialists must improve, Selimovic warned.

"The IT sector is growing, but in many respects it is still immature," he said.

"A lot of companies in this sector are only growing because companies from abroad are outsourcing their activities," Selimovic explained.

"Bosnia should finally reach the point where it has its own human capital and starts creating its own products and companies, instead of just providing [others with] a skilled workforce," he concluded.

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