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A Tale Of Two Digital Slovenias

The previous Minister of Digital Transformation in the Janša government was Mark Boris Andrijanič, a renowned expert who had worked with global multinationals in the past before agreeing – for the good of the country – to work for a much lower salary in the position of Slovenian Minister. With the arrival of the new government, he was replaced by Emilija Stojmenova Duh, a researcher of Macedonian origin. Looking at their careers after the new government took office is a kind of textbook example of what we Slovenians lost in the first two years of the “Golob rule”.

Mark Boris Andrijanič has now returned abroad, where he is co-creating the digital future. He recently shared an article from POLITICO Europe, co-authored by Philip Meissner of the prestigious French business school ESCP, in which the authors assessed the state of European technology and proposed five initiatives to unlock the European Union’s potential in this critical sector. Andrijanič has been extremely active since the end of his mandate. In April 2022, the World Economic Forum named him one of the 110 most promising young global leaders.

He has continued his work for multinational corporations and moved to London. Last year, he was the recipient of the CEE Digital Trident Award, presented by the CEE Digital Coalition, which is given to individuals who are committed to advancing digitalisation in the region, and who set an example worth spreading across the region. In the award’s explanatory statement, it was noted that Andrijanič is a vocal advocate of sound digital policies focused on strengthening the competitiveness and innovation potential of Central and Eastern Europe, as well as a catalyst for digital transformation in the spirit of entrepreneurship and respect for human rights.

Janša’s ministers were replaced by revanchists

When Slovenians gave up the Janša government, we also gave up on such experts. And what did we get in return? Revanchists. One of the most ardent revanchists against Janša’s government (who activistically resigned from the Strategic Council for Digitalisation) was the current Minister of Digital Transformation, today one of the most hated ministers in the country – Emilija Stojmenova Duh.

The two-year debacle of the new minister

And what has the current Minister managed to show during her mandate? As a true left-wing activist, she fought against so-called “hate speech” (which, in reality, has absolutely nothing to do with digitalisation).

She bought 10,000 out-of-date computers, most of which are still in storage, as the Ministry does not know exactly why it bought them – 666 were distributed, and although the original deadline for the Public Scholarship, Development, Disability and Maintenance Fund of the Republic of Slovenia to collect applications for the free loan of laptops purchased by the Ministry of Digital Transformation last year expires on the 22nd of June 2024, most of them are still stored in Logatec.

In the first year of the Golob government, Slovenia has dropped ten places – from 31st place – in the Government Artificial Intelligence (AI) Readiness Index, according to the metrics of the British company Oxford Insights.

The Minister suffered another debacle with the so-called info points. The info-digital points were based on a concept introduced in the past by the Simbioza (symbiosis) project (for free) – the idea was that those lacking in digital skills (especially the elderly) would be offered help at the points in question, to register for e-administration units and e-health, and they could also get some advice on how to use electronic ID cards and other electronic services in the public administration. The project was led by the Slovenian Chamber of Crafts and Small Business (OZS), but the Ministry of Digital Transformation has closed 60 out of the 222 info-digital points to date (mainly due to low interest and organisational failures).

The public laughed when the Ministry used our money to go after “digital waste,” which, according to Ecologists Without Borders (and perhaps also without degrees?!), “is harmful to the environment because it consumes energy and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.”

In other words – the Ministry has been idle for two years, apart from the damage caused by the purchase of 10,000 permanently stored laptops. Nothing has happened, apart from isolated left-wing activist campaigns.

Even “the Minister’s” left-wing activists – the NGO Network for an Inclusive Information Society – have awarded her and her Ministry a digital cactus for mismanagement of digital inclusion measures for disregarding and failing to implement the principles of good democratic governance. In their explanatory post, they said that the Ministry had failed to implement the principles of the rule of law, inclusiveness and responsiveness, and efficiency and accountability.

Two Slovenias

The eminent international career of the previous Minister of Digital Transformation in the Janša government and the debacle of the current Minister illustrate that Slovenians have lost a huge opportunity with the election of the Golob government. Not only in the field of digitalisation, but in practically all areas, as there are hardly any areas left where Slovenia has not regressed in the last two years, compared to where we were during the Janša mandate. The Golob government is teaching us a lesson – namely, that a group of political activists cannot run the executive effectively and efficiently. It is time for the adults to get back in the room.

I. K.

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