Digitalization as a tool against corruption
Text: Monica Michelsen
Transparency International ranks Ukraine as number 130 out of 168 countries on their corruption perceptions index. Digital transparency could be an effective instrument against corruption, according to Arne Mjøs, CEO and founder of Itera.
Itera is an IT company within communication and technology, and are among the big Norwegian companies who use Ukrainian IT-services extensively. The company also has an office stationed in Kyiv.
– The Ukrainians have an impressively high competence level within IT. They are actually ranked second after Australia on a worldwide basis, and by that also ranked over India. These facts are not well known among most people, says Mjøs.
Low level of corruption
On the worldwide IT ranking Norway is listed as number nine. To use IT outsourcing is both an attractive and common practice among Norwegian companies, which makes Mjøs think that more Norwegian companies should look towards Ukraine.
– The Ukrainian IT sector is 25 times bigger than the Norwegian, and takes a larger part of their BNP each year. Furthermore, the costs on Ukrainian IT services are also lower compared to for instance India, and both the physical distance and cultural differences are smaller, says Mjøs.
One of the main obstacles for foreign companies that want to do business with Ukraine
is the high level of corruption in the country. During this years´ Lviv IT Arena conference, which is one of Central Europes’ biggest IT conferences, the editor-at-large for the National Post, Diane Francis, stated that «Ukraine’s IT industry is doing well because unlike other sectors of the economy, it isn’t plagued by corruption».
– The IT sector in Ukraine largely works with Western markets, and are also a part of the intellectual elite. They know they will lose their jobs if corruption takes place. As Ukrainian IT outsourcer your salary will be considerably higher than in most other jobs is also crucial, says Mjøs.
The Ukrainian Government is currently spending a considerable amount of resources in preparing new reforms. According to Mjøs it is now of high importance to the country to stay together as one.
– Ukraine is kind of twofold in their mindset (West and East), but I am experiencing a «European Wind» blowing over the country. Now I think it is crucial that Ukraine keeps up with their growing relations with Europe, and of course works hard on a good dialogue with Russia, to avoid that the country is split in two, he says.
After the Maidan revolution a great pressure lays upon Ukraine regarding the creation of rapid and radical changes.
– Things are moving fast in Ukraine these days, but I believe the expectations about new reforms and so on might be a bit too high. In my opinion, we have to give them some time – they are after all going through pervasive changes, says Mjøs.
On the global agenda
On the way towards European integration and stability within the country itself, Mjøs highlights the importance of Ukraine not giving up.
– Ukraine in general is rising on the statistics. To succeed with their long-term goals I think they have to continue the reform work, reduce corruption, facilitate for business growth and always aim higher. The rest of Europe is sympathizing with Ukraine. This is of course because of the situation, but also because this is about peace on the European continent. To get Ukraine back on its feet is on the global agenda, he says.
Mjøs thinks digitalization can be a good and effective tool to achieve a lower level of corruption.
– In the digital world everything is traceable, which means that the level of transparency is high. I think this can be a useful instrument and tool on the way to get rid of corruption, he says.