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ICEDA Training for sub-grantees and members of the ICEDA network

Between January 25th – 26th, 2021, the eGovernance Academy team together with the ICEDA partners, organized the first part of the ICEDA Training for sub-grantees and members of the ICEDA network on the Digital Agenda with the experience, knowledge, and skills from Estonia. The second part of the training is foreseen to be in February, which will be followed by 2 webinars on topics that are selected by the participants themselves as most necessary.

The participants’ journey towards the development of the Digital agenda was guided by eGA’s experts Kristina Mänd and Merle Maigre, and by Estonia’s distinguished CSO and e-government experts Janek Rozov (Information Technology and Development Centre of the Ministry of Interior), Ants Sild (Baltic Computer Systems), and Margo Loor (Citizen OS).

The training was intended for building the capacities of the awarded sub-grantees and members of the ICEDA network from the first cycle of the small grant scheme LOT 1: Awarding sub-grants for e-Government Support Centers, namely, from Montenegro – Center for Youth EducationRoma youth organization “Walk with us- Phiren Amenca” and Super Hub Pljevlja, from Albania – Artivista CenterEpoka e Re (New Epoch) and European Youth Association, from Kosovo – Democracy PlusForum for Civic Initiatives and Kosovo Youth Council, from North Macedonia – Association for Citizen’s Tolerance and Cooperation (ACTAC)Rural Coallition, and SmartUp – Social Innovation Lab, and Serbia – Center for Social IntegrationDeli – Space for creative activity and SINHRO.

The training course was part of the Increasing Civic Engagement in the Digital Agenda – ICEDA project, co-funded by the European Union. It aimed at enhancing the capacity of the sub-grantees and members of the ICEDA network, and have them understand how the theoretical part of the Digital Agenda works in real life, how to identify and map the needs for the engagement in the Digital Agenda, how to turn the needs into solutions, how to raise awareness and promote the e-service among local communities and how to support local citizens and institutions to benefit from the Digital Agenda and e-services. The training content was based on a previous pre-assessment that was conducted to develop tailor-made pieces of training that will serve fully the needs of the participants.

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The project is implemented by the Metamorphosis Foundation (North Macedonia), the Academy of e-Governance (Estonia), Levizja Mjaft! (Albania), CRTA – Center for Research, Transparency, and Accountability (Serbia), NGO 35mm (Montenegro) and ODK – Open Data Kosovo (Kosovo). The project is being implemented with financial support from the European Union and partially supported by the Ministry of public administration, digital society, and media in Montenegro.

The event Regional Dialogues for the Digital Agenda held on 22 January 2021

The event Regional Dialogues for the Digital Agenda held on 22 January 2021

On 22 January 2021 (Friday) starting at 10:00 am, within the project “Increasing civic engagement in the digital agenda – ICEDA”, Metamorphosis Foundation in partnership with Levizja MJAFT (Albania), Open Data Kosovo (Kosovo), NGO 35 MM (Montenegro) and CRTA – Center for Research, Transparency, and Accountability (Serbia), held a regional online event “Regional Dialogues for the Digital Agenda”. The event was accompanied by live streaming on Facebook and the video can be found here.

The event was attended by 175 representatives of the civil society, institutions, media, and citizens of the Western Balkans, and it consisted of a short presentation of the regional survey Digital Agenda Observatory: Baseline research of the state of e-government development & digital literacy in the targeted Western Balkan countries 2020, followed by a discussion on improving the state of e-government development and digital literacy in the target countries of the Western Balkans.

Bardhyl Jashari – Executive Director of the Metamorphosis Foundation, gave an introductory speech, emphasizing that digital transformation and the Internet contribute to economic development and innovation globally, regionally, and locally, but that in reality, and this is confirmed by IECDA research, that not all citizens from all walks of life are aware of or feel the benefits of digital transformation, which should ultimately provide an improvement in their lifestyle.

The introductory speech was followed by a short presentation of the regional survey “Digital Agenda Observatory: Baseline research of the state of e-government development & digital literacy in the targeted Western Balkan countries 2020” by Miša Bojović – – Senior Researcher at CRTA. The research is part of the Digital Agenda Observatory, which is a tool with a special methodology through which the implementation of the Digital Agenda in the Western Balkans in Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, North Macedonia, and Montenegro will be monitored during the project. The research aims to provide a regional perspective and a starting point for further measurement of progress in these areas about the Digital Agenda, as well as to provide additional recommendations for improvement.

“Digitalisation does not take up much of the administrative change. Governments need to set up portals that offer e-services in one place. The most efficient implementation of e-services is for the business sector, but even more, the effort is needed. Also, there is no end to some of them, because at one point the citizen is sent to the counter, i.e. in a traditional way of collecting data,” said Bojović.

In short, the key research findings are listed below:

  • Efforts to provide broadband Internet to all citizens of the Western Balkans region are being recognized, but countries need to be more careful in updating their strategic and regulatory documents. Countries are late in harmonizing the legislation, and even more so in implementing innovation. Given the nature of the digitalization process, it should follow the demands of the market, otherwise it would remain outdated and too expensive.
  • Furthermore, these efforts need to be complemented by an ambitious campaign to raise citizens’ awareness of the benefits of digitalization. With all countries currently experiencing political instability and facing elections this year, accompanied by a pandemic crisis, there are fears of slowing progress in the Digital Agenda commitment. If the new governments decide not to put this on their list of priorities, the termination of the process will significantly affect its results.
  • The digitalization of services in the Western Balkans region is mostly financially driven, and most of the provided electronic services (e-services) are intended for the business sector. Governments should be encouraged to define their criteria for introducing e-government services based on the needs of citizens. In parallel, more efforts should be made in educating citizens whose digital literacy is currently low, to enable them to understand the benefits of digitalization.
  • Digitalization is an integral part of public administration reform. It directly affects the efficiency of the administration and the budget savings. The biggest undertaking for all countries is the interoperability of all databases held by different government institutions. Once this process is completed, citizens will be able to receive any administrative service by simply starting an online procedure, while the rest of the process is automated. So far, governments have offered partial solutions, with more or less success, while some parts of the process rely on traditional public administration.
  • The resistance to digitalization in part comes from the establishment of public servants. Reform means changing their long-term routine, need for education, change of procedures, adaptation to new technologies, etc. There is a generation gap in the process of getting used to e-technologies and what is inevitably normal and easy for the younger generations remains difficult for those who have become acquainted with technology in old age.
  • Given that all Western Balkan countries are striving for membership in the European Union and still need to align with EU standards on democracy and the rule of law, the Digital Agenda remains one of the segments to be addressed.

Following the findings of the research, the roadmap was presented, i.e. a list of 18 recommendations for improvement in the priority areas that jointly provide a roadmap for advancing the Digital Agenda in the region that are available in the research.

After the presentation of the research, a discussion started for improving the development of e-government and digital literacy in the target countries of the Western Balkans, which was attended by representatives of institutions and civil society organizations from the Western Balkans. Among the representatives of the institutions was Romina Kostani – Director of the Directorate of Innovation and IPA e-Government (Albania), Fjola Restelica – project KODE in the Ministry of Economy and Environment (Kosovo), Bojana Bajic – General Director of the Department of Digitalization and Information systems in the Ministry of Finance (Montenegro), Solza Kovacevska – State Adviser in the Ministry of Information Society and Administration (North Macedonia) and Žarko Dakic – IT Advisor, member of the Council of the City of Pancevo (Serbia). The civil society organizations that participated in the discussion are members of the ICEDA network, i.e. Aldo Merkoci – project coordinator in Levizja MJAFT (Albania), Blerina Ramaj – project coordinator in Open Data Kosovo (Kosovo), Snežana Nikicevic – project coordinator in NGO 35 MM (Montenegro) and Filip Milenkovic – project coordinator at CRTA (Serbia).

The conclusions of the discussion largely coincided with the conclusions and recommendations of the regional research. Namely, the purpose of digitalization is to simplify the processes and improve the life of the citizens, and the covid-19 pandemic further emphasized the importance and the need for digitalization of the institutional services, their simplification, as well as literacy of the citizens for online use of those services, instead of the traditional waiting at the counters. Of course, we must be aware that when introducing innovations and digital solutions, it is necessary to ensure their sustainability and security, as well as their solution through a systemic approach. Furthermore, it is necessary for the institutions from the region to put all e-services in one place and to make them completely digital, from the moment of application to the moment of receiving the service. Raising the collective awareness of the benefits of digitalization of the entire population was also one of the general conclusions, which presents a challenge for the coming period.

The research can be downloaded here.

The project is implemented by the Metamorphosis Foundation (North Macedonia), the Academy of e-Governance (Estonia), Levizja Mjaft! (Albania), CRTA – Center for Research, Transparency, and Accountability (Serbia), NGO 35mm (Montenegro) and ODK – Open Data Kosovo (Kosovo). The project is being implemented with financial support from the European Union and partially supported by the Ministry of public administration, digital society, and media in Montenegro.

Sub-grants awarded through the ICEDA Small Grants Scheme LOT 1 and established ICEDA national networks

Sub-grants awarded through the ICEDA Small Grants Scheme LOT 1 and established ICEDA national networks

NGO 35mm and the project partners, through the project “Increasing Civic Engagement in the Digital Agenda – ICEDA”, co-funded by the European Union, are pleased to inform you that 15 sub-grants (small grants) have been awarded through the first cycle of the small grant scheme LOT 1: Awarding sub-grants for e-Government Support Centers.

The 15 small grants were awarded to 3 civil society organizations from Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia, which in the upcoming period, as part of the ICEDA network, will work on the establishment and management of civic centers for e-Government support where they will help their target groups use certain e-services and spread digital literacy.

Below you can find more information about the awarded small grants and the CSOs who have also become part of the ICEDA network, through which they will work together to promote digital literacy, skills, and inclusion at the regional, national, and local levels.

Albania

  • Artivista Center : “Digital Agenda Applied for Local Development” in partnership with Nehemiah Gateway Albania, aims at increasing the engagement of CSOs in the shaping and implementation of the Digital Agenda in the two local communities Prrenjas and Pogradec. The project will focus on doing research and analysis to mobilize the project, the establishment and operating of the Digital Agenda Applied Locally – DAAL Centers in the school Nehemiah Gateway Albania (Pogradec), and conceptualizing and implementing a Digital Literacy campaign in both municipalities.
  • Epoka e Re (New Epoch) : “E-Governance – Youth for Community – “EG-Y4C” “ aims at providing innovative access to public information and other services by youth for the community and vulnerable groups, and increasing the civic engagement and access to public services in the 9 rural Administrative Units of Fier Municipality. To achieve these goals, apart from establishing an e-Government support center in the Youth Center Epoka e Re (Fier Municipality), they will organize focus group discussions with the Administrative units of Fier Municipality in order to gather information about the difficulties citizens face in accessing different public services, workshops with municipality representatives on the most requested services by citizens and their potential for digitalization, development of the Fier Local Platform FLP, training for e-services of the municipality, workshops for the media on the new platform and the new e-services, and raising awareness activities.
  • European Youth Association : “Promoting the Digital Services for Citizens in Elbasan and Durres” in partnership with Posta Shqiptare Sha (Albanian Post s.a), aims at providing the citizens with wide access to the e-services of the government through the Postal Service. They are going to establish the e-support center for citizens within the Albanian Post premises and will assist the citizens in using 33 e-services. The project aims at achieving its goals also through the establishment and training of a Pool of Volunteers who will hold stands for assisting the citizens in the Albanian post, promotion of the easy access of the services through social media and short presentations, and setting up a social media profile and interactive web page.

Kosovo

  • Democracy Plus : “Fix my community through ndreqe.com” ‘s main objective is to foster online civic participation through engaging citizens to report their complaints and increase responsiveness from institutions. In partnership with the Municipalities of Obiliq, Fushë Kosovë, and Vushtrri, they will foster the creation of E-Government Support Centers in each of the municipalities in order to report issues via ndreqe.com. The project will also increase the responsiveness of Kosovo municipalities in addressing issues reported by citizens on the platform.
  • Forum for Civic Initiatives : “CSOs going Digital” in the next 18 months will cooperate with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Public Administration – Department of CSO, to make it possible for all CSO-s to register and use the online portal ojq.rks-gov.net. They will open a small office within the Department where they will provide on-spot support for CSO on how to use the portal and other details for the service. Moreover, the team behind FIQ will work on increasing the capacities of CSO-s and media regarding the Digital Agenda.
  • Kosovo Youth Council : “Sporteli2” in cooperation with the non-profit organization edIT will start the development of a user-friendly portal as part of the project “Sporteli24” which aims to facilitate the access by providing guidelines to e-services for citizens thus increasing quality in receiving online E-governmental services. This platform will also be an integrated part of the institutionalized platform where the e-services are published. The project will hold a lot of outreach activities to promote the usage of e-services offered by public institutions. The organization will be working with all public institutions to list their services,  however close collaboration will be with the Agency for Information and Society.

Montenegro

  • Center for Youth Education : “E-services 4 Me” sensitizes the awareness rising about e-services and their benefits, along with the establishment of the center that will have close cooperation with the Municipality of Podgorica. It will be the first local and professional e-center in the city. The main activity of the e-center will be focused on supporting the promotion, development, and transparency of e-services in this Municipality. Step by step instructions for the already existing e-services of Podgorica will be available at the center’s premises, as well as help via phone, and via email. The center will also promote the already existing services to the citizens while targeting the younger population through social media promotion. Through their cooperation with the Municipality, CYE will closely work on supporting the development of at least one new e-service for the citizens that would be focused on young entrepreneurs.
  • Roma youth organization “Walk with us- Phiren Amenca” : “E-center Digital Classroom” has a strong partnership with the primary school ‘’Božidar Vuković Podgoričanin’’. They will establish an e-center located within the school’s premises and it aims to reduce the digital divide between the Roma and non-Roma population. The center will serve as a constructive support system in accessing and running Government e-services used in education. Within the center, teachers and students will get assistance on how to navigate in online space as well as on how to use the Government education-related e-services. Within the e-center and with the support of their partner school, Digital classroom will work on preparing, publishing, and distributing to the schools the Handbook for digital teaching that will consist of concrete guidelines for creating digital and innovative content on Governmental educational platforms as well as clear instructions for e-services used by teachers dnevnik.edu.me.
  • Super Hub Pljevlja : “Digitalizing The North” will work on establishing an e-center within the local startup center with the support of the Municipality of Pljevlja, and help with using the existing e-services within the eGovernment portal will be available to the citizens of Pljevlja every working day from 11 am to 2 pm.  Besides, free consulting and support services for startup entrepreneurs, innovators, and interested teams will be available at all times. The organization will also create training for the local officials, and a  media series of 12 shows that will cover specific e-services and will be broadcasted at the local TV station, as well as available online, taking into consideration that a lot of elderly people watch TV, especially in the rural areas.

North Macedonia

  • Association for Citizen’s Tolerance and Cooperation (ACTAC) : “E-service as a Self-Service Shop” aims at sensitizing the citizens about the possibilities of the Digital Agenda and the use of e-services. The activities will cover the municipalities of Prilep and Dolneni where the target group is the population with a low socio-cultural standard, Roma people, illiterates and/or “technically illiterate people”, the elderly, people with long-term unemployment, people with basic IT literacy, people from disabling environments, rural ethnic and confessional mixed population. The project will establish 3 types of info center: physical in Prilep (open for citizens 3 days per week), online (informative, educational and support platform for the use of e-services and production and broadcasting 18 educational multimedia products for e-services); mobile (20 traveling info sessions on 20 different locations for providing on-spot support to the citizens for the usage of specific e-services and digital skills).
  • Rural Coallition “Digitalization in agriculture – NOW!” aims at increasing trust in the institutions of the system by increasing the use and quality of e-services by the local community. This will be achieved through increasing the visibility of issues related to the Digital Agenda in the sector of agriculture and rural development, improvement of the level of digital literacy and knowledge of digital tools and services to the rural population in North Macedonia, but also through strengthening the online trust and security of the e-services system through establishment and practice of digital tools and communication. Local media will be also involved in the part of presentation and promotion of Digital Agenda on the local level, while by creating a rural digital platform and establishment the local e-support center in Kichevo, the project will contribute towards increasing the quality and comprehensibility of e-services, but also increasing the percentage of their utilization by the rural population. The project activities will be implemented in 5 regions in the country (Pelagonia, Northeast, Southwest, Southeast, and Polog region) and the organization will have direct cooperation and support from the Ministry of agriculture, forestry and water supply, and the municipalities Vrapchishte and Krivogashtani, in order to ensure a systematic approach in the digitalization of the sector.
  • SmartUp – Social Innovation Lab : “Inclusive and successful digital transformation for all – “DIGIT-ALL” “ aims at establishing an operational e-government support center under the City of Skopje and developing a support program for citizens for using the e-services that the City offers. The Center will be established in the frame of the already existing Info Center as part of the premises of the City of Skopje and will be open for the public from Mon-Friday 10 am – 15 pm. The activities of the e-center are complementary with the Info Center activities, as many citizens recognize it as a “help center” for issues regarding city administration services, and the main focus would be on providing support for the usage of the E-tax system, e-submission for subsidies (Inverter subsidies, Bicycle subsidies. Subsidies for e-scooters, Subsidies for pellet stoves) and submitting e-applications for financial support (grants) from the budget of the City of Skopje for CSOs and individuals (Public call for projects in the field of education, sports, culture, business incubators, and innovation centers, the interest of young people, associations and foundations – NGOs, and social, child and health care.). Apart from these activities, the project also focuses on the redesign of specific e-services and digital applications for citizens that are provided by the City of Skopje.

Serbia

  • Center for Social Integration : “Digitization – a link for the future” in partnership with the City of Vranje aims at educating the citizens, with the accent on vulnerable groups, in order for them to acquire basic digital skills and create audio/video guide on a web platform with instructions on how to use the e-Government portal. They intend to achieve this through educational workshops with citizens (especially members of vulnerable groups and lower social classes) on the basics of using the Internet, web browsers, email addresses, MS-office, and e-Government. They foresee the creation of an interactive web portal as an e-Government support center for the needs of practical instructions to citizens on how to use the e-Government portal, development of a manual on basic digital competencies, and creation of an easy-to-understand and efficient audio/video content showing the use of the Internet and e-Government, step by step. Through this project, the organization will establish an e-Government support center on its premises in the City of Vranje.
  • Deli – Space for creative activity : “eGovernment in the City of Nis” in partnership with the Local Economic Development and Projects office of the City of Nis, aims at promoting the Digital Agenda for the Western Balkans at the local level with the focus on local eGovernment usage and its further development in partnership with the Local Economic Development and Projects office of the City of Niš and local media. Through this project, the organization will establish an e-Government support center on its premises in the City of Nis. They will also work on increasing the usage of the existing local e-services of the City of Nis by the citizens through their direct presentations on the counters of public administration and in rural areas. Deli will be a recording video tutorial on the existing local e-services and broadcasting of them in partnership with the local media and social media activities. 
  • SINHRO : “Promoting Digital Agenda and e-Services in the City of Pancevo” in partnership with the City of Pancevo and CSO “Center for education and education – CETRA”, aims at strengthening the capacities of the local CSOs and media for promoting issues arising from the Digital Agenda, and empowering the participation, role and influence of the CSOs and citizenship in the further development of efficient local and national e-Government systems. It also aims at increasing the citizen demand for usage of quality local and national e-services through education and awareness-raising in the City of Pancevo. Through this project, the organization will establish an e-Government support center on its premises in the City of Pancevo.

The project “Increasing Civic Engagement in the Digital Agenda – ICEDA” is implemented by the Metamorphosis Foundation (North Macedonia), the Academy of e-Governance (Estonia), Levizja Mjaft! (Albania), CRTA – Center for Research, Transparency and Accountability (Serbia), NGO 35mm (Montenegro) and ODK – Open Data Kosovo (Kosovo). The project is being implemented with financial support from the European Union.

CALL FOR SUBMISSION: Bids for the procurement of services for the preparation of Investigative articles for the Digital Agenda

CALL FOR SUBMISSION: Bids for the procurement of services for the preparation of Investigative articles for the Digital Agenda

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For the purposes of the project Increasing Civic Engagement in the Digital Agenda – ICEDA, co-financed by the European Union and based on the Grant Contract with ref. no. IPA/2019-414-059, NVO 35MM opens a

CALL FOR SUBMISSION OF BIDS
for the procurement of services for the preparation of Investigative articles for the Digital Agenda

 

NVO 35 MM is seeking to contract Investigative journalists who will be engaged to produce Investigative articles about the Digital Agenda.

In total 6 investigative articles will be published in the span course of three years, i.e. 2 per year.

The investigative articles should be focused on the impact of certain developments or situations on the lives of the ordinary citizens and the institutions to incite media interest and promote public debate (such as improving the efficiency of certain eGovernment applications or reporting on needs of citizens that have been met elsewhere through such solutions).

The articles will contribute to reaffirming and upholding the Digital Agenda through systematic fact-based investigative articles about issues directly affecting the quality of life of citizens in the Western Balkans. This activity will directly tackle the evident absence of fact-based media content that includes expert analysis mainstreaming the issues related to the Digital Agenda in the Western Balkans.

The journalists will conduct the investigative work and placement in Montenegro, where the articles will be based on.

Essential experience and qualification:

  • University degree or professional certifications for Journalism;
  • Applicants need to have a proven track record of at least 3 years’ experience in the field of Journalism;
  • Evidence of having done similar work previously (2 samples of investigative articles).

Key skills:

  • Good writing skills;
  • Excellent knowledge of Montenegrin language and English knowledge;
  • Good reporting and research skills;
  • Good understanding of the concept of digitalization.

The organization reserves the right to contract multiple journalists for this Call.

Applications should be submitted by e-mail to snezana35mm@gmail.com with the subject: Application for investigative articles – ICEDA.

All applications must be submitted by September 23, 2020, at 11:59 p.m.

Note that only the selected journalist/s will be contacted.

The full description of the Call, as well as the application forms, can be found at the following links:

  1. Terms Of Reference for Journalists_MNE
  2. Appendix 1 – Financial offer
  3. Appendix 2 – Declaration for acceptance of the conditions from the tender documentation
  4. Appendix 3 – Declaration by which the tenderer confirms that they meet the criteria for determining the personal status

    The“Increasing Civic Engagement in the Digital Agenda – ICEDA” project is co-funded by the European Union and is implemented by Metamorphosis FoundationOpen Data Kosovo (ODK)e-Government Academy (eGA), Center for Research, Transparency, and Accountability – CRTALëvizja MJAFTNVM 35 MM.

Request for Applications – Grants for Civil Society Organizations

Request for Applications – Grants for Civil Society Organizations

ICEDA is delighted to announce this Call for Applications to provide support to CSOs to promote the Digital Agenda through the first Small Grants Scheme Cycle LOT 1: Awarding of sub-grants for the e-Government Support Centers, awarding 15 small grants to CSOs from Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia (the target is approximately 3 grants per country), in the range between EUR 13.000 to EUR 17.000 per grant. The duration for the implementation of the individual grants is 18 months.

More information can be found in the Announcement for the Call for proposals.

The full description of the Call, as well as the application forms, can be found at the following links.

Information Sessions

An online information session for potential applicants will be organized by the ICEDA project Partners, in the form of webinars for up to 1 hour. One information session will be held within each of the five Western Balkans countries, conducted in local languages.

For Montenegro, the session would be held on the 10th of September 2020 at 10:00 AM (follow @NVO35mmEmisijaRobinHud for more information).

Follow the Facebook and Twitter pages of the project for more information.

Where to apply and send the documents?

Applicants that would need clarifications or need additional information about the Call for proposals are invited to send them by e-mail to iceda@metamorphosis.org.mk before 15.09.2020 so they can receive the responses in time before the final deadline for submitting the project proposal.

Deadline for applying: 30.09.2020 by 23:59 CET.

The applications should be sent exclusively by e-mail to iceda@metamorphosis.org.mk. Application forms must be completed using the English language.

 

The “Increasing Civic Engagement in the Digital Agenda – ICEDA” project is co-funded by the European Union and is implemented by Metamorphosis FoundationOpen Data Kosovo (ODK)e-Government Academy (eGA), Center for Research, Transparency, and Accountability – CRTALëvizja MJAFTNVO 35 MM.