Investing in our future digital economy
Written by MITA
Various Government initiatives such as the B Secure Scheme have infiltrated the concept of Cyber Security into private firms in order to safeguard their workforce and operations. Which fora do you now believe deserve the Government’s attention as Malta continues its journey in today’s highly technological industries?
Cybersecurity provides a level of assurance that the sector is protected and ready to withstand cyber-attacks that may have adverse consequences on our economy if a major breach occurs. The feedback we have received from beneficiaries of the B Secure Scheme indicated the need for similar schemes.
There is a shortage of skilled workforce in the area which is increasing on a yearly basis. Emphasis should also be made on vulnerable groups of society who are easy targets for cybercriminals. All of these goals will be achieved through a comprehensive and coordinated cybersecurity awareness and education campaign.
As Parliamentary Secretary you are now also responsible for Malta’s Information and Technology Agency, MITA, which continuously pushes for better awareness of cybersecurity and sharing of information between governmental entities to protect sensitive data from cyber-attacks. Will you encourage the sharing of information within the private sector?
Security incidents reported last year clearly show that cybersecurity needs to be taken more seriously by the private sector. The need for the government to invest in professionals was also expressed during the first edition of the National Cyber Security Summit. Experts in the field also highlighted the need for such events to be held more frequently, providing a space where stakeholders such as policymakers, business owners, professionals and academics can come together to discuss the latest cybersecurity threats and trends. Investment should also be made in the public sector considering the amount of personal data that is processed in this domain.
Malta has been dubbed ‘The Blockchain Island’ after being the first country to introduce blockchain legislation has made headlines with its national strategy for Artificial Intelligence, and has a strong international reputation as an ideal hub for private iGaming companies to flourish. How will you, now responsible for all these niches, push the country to live up to its already ambitious vision?
Malta has already successfully hosted a number of private and public projects related to AI and blockchain, one of them aiming for all education-related certificates and rental contracts to be blockchain-based. Both these projects have been highly praised and admired by fellow EU member states and other jurisdictions.
We will now create new paths as we move forward into 2020. The Malta Digital Innovation Authority (MDIA) will be soon introducing a new Cybersecurity Certification Scheme in line Cybersecurity Regulation. It will be also developing the concept of the European Digital Innovation where new investment in High-Performance Computing will give access to academics and scientists.
University students have already been given the golden opportunity for blockchain scholarships by this Government, and our Institute for Digital Games has given Europe some of its finest craftsmen in the industry. How else do you hope to see your remit infiltrate with our Education system?
We will further strengthen our specialist expertise in the field by providing scholarships to students to wish to undertake postgraduate studies in AI, at the University of Malta. These scholarships will supplement those already provided by the University for blockchain, further confirming the government’s commitment to ensure that education is integrated into our work. This is also a Budget Measure for 2020.
A strong investment will also be made in terms of R&D enabling infrastructure, providing local researches with all the necessary resources for their work to be carried out more efficiently. Another key initiative is the HPC Project, spearheaded by the MDIA, which will offer increased support to local researchers in their efforts.
Artificial Intelligence has also been on the Government’s agenda for some years- mainly to further improve our health services. How do you hope to further, strengthen this synergy that has already been created, so other crucial industries like transport, infrastructure and telecommunications can also flourish?
Malta’s Strategy and Vision for Artificial Intelligence until 2030 provides for a strong position as a leading jurisdiction in the AI field. Amongst other commitments, the Government aims at implementing six pilot projects by 2022, each expected to have a profound and positive impact across our society. All this will eventually play a key role in our economy reaping the benefits AI can deliver to our businesses and smaller niches. The above-mentioned scholarships and schemes also ensure the consistency of research, which will, in turn, be embraced and implemented accordingly across all sectors.
The term ‘investment’ seems to be a constant ally of this Government, but how can Malta guarantee top quality jobs for its workforce in industries such as iGaming or Technology without depending heavily on foreign direct investment?
Malta has experienced exceptional economic growth over the past year, many a time outpacing fellow EU member states. One of the more challenging impacts of such a robust economy is the constant need for human capital. While the Maltese are furthering their studies in the technological field, demand always exceeds supply.
To counter this, the Government has embarked on a number of projects to further spread the talent pool available for such industries.
In 2017, the European Gaming Institute of Malta (EGIM) was launched following an agreement signed between Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) and Malta College of Arts, Science, and Technology (MCAST); with 56 students enrolling for the iGaming Diploma in 2018, and an additional 43 enrolling in 2019.
However, for our economy to remain sustained with the required levels of employment, importing talent from other countries, particularly European ones will remain constant.
How do you hope to see Malta’s technological dependence change or evolve in the coming years?
We want to promote Malta as a digital country rather than just ‘The Blockchain Island’. While the latter has certainly proven to be sustainable and crucial in the creation of high-quality jobs and services, no jurisdiction should be solely dependent on one particular niche. Malta’s name certainly needs to be engraved and become synonymous with a new era in the digital age which will further improve services provided by all stakeholders in all sectors. We want other jurisdictions to look to Malta as having the principle on the global digital stage. Then we can truly provide an endless career choice for our citizens and even more efficient services in our society for all to enjoy.
Malta’s name certainly needs to be engraved and become synonymous with a new era in the digital age which will further improve services provided by all stakeholders in all sectors.