Xavier Bettel: "Luxembourg is progressively transforming into a ‘digital-by-default’ country."

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1) How digital has Luxembourg become during the first year of Digital Lëtzebuerg?

Luxembourg is progressively transforming into a ‘digital-by-default’ country. What was a guiding principle for the electronic administration at the beginning, has become a more general objective.

We just launched our official open data portal, in collaboration with the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Infrastructure, and which is constantly growing with public and private datasets. The community is reusing these datasets and is creating new possibilities for business and for citizens.

Since last month, Luxembourg has a Digital Tech Fund, a fund set-up by the Ministry of the Economy which will acquire stakes in promising innovative companies. The aim is to invest in areas such as cybersecurity, FinTech, Big Data, Digital Health, the media and the next-generation communication networks, digital learning, the Internet of things or telecommunications and satellite services.

We have also initiated a European High Performance Computing Project that will make cutting-edge computing accessible to both public and private players. This multi-billion euro project will be implemented in collaboration with the European Commission, France, Spain and Italy.
Thanks to the initiatives of the Ministry of Education, teachers and pupils enjoy new on-line teaching and learning environments, and the new makerspaces. Private stakeholders will set up and finance an ICT competence center.

FinTech develops rapidly. As a first in Europe, the Luxembourg ministry of Finance has granted a license as a fully regulated Payment Institution to bitcoin exchange Bitstamp. This brings a new era of security and transparency to digital finance.

Because you can’t build a new future on old technologies, technology is indeed at the heart of Luxembourg’s future planning throughout the Government and I am particularly happy that ever more organizations are placing their own actions under the umbrella of Digital Lëtzebuerg.

2) Luxembourg has long been an ambitious country in the development of the digital sector. What are Luxembourg’s assets as regards the roll-out of ‘Digital Lëtzebuerg’?

There are many challenges faced by governments while trying to deal with digital policy. At its core lies the growing realization that public administrations’ rigid approach to policy making is ill-suited to coping with the rapid pace of developments in the ongoing digital transformation.

To rise to this challenge, Luxembourg decided to adopt a more agile approach in the form of the Digital Luxembourg initiative. Horizontal by design, it is piloted by three Ministers with the systematic focus of bringing together public and private stakeholders and breaking down vertical silos. Through this collaborative framework, we have been able to take fast decisions and to get a birds-eye view of the things that need support and change.

I believe that this agility that characterises Luxembourg is a key advantage in our rapidly evolving world.

3) The subject of the 2016 edition of the ICT Spring conference, which you opened, was ‘abundance’. Luxembourg knows about tech abundance, doesn’t it?

That’s right. 94% of Luxembourg’s households have access to broadband connections, meaning 30 Megabytes per second or more, which puts us at the top of the list in the EU. With the fiber in the ground, satellite connectivity in the sky and mobile connectivity moving from 4G towards 5G, bandwidth is now becoming abundant.

We also have abundance of storage. Luxembourg’s territory has the highest density of Tier 4-certified data centers in the world. The HPC project will give us abundant computing power.
But tech abundance is nothing without abundance of innovation and creativity. In order to foster ideas and skills, e-skills have become a national priority in the education system.

Copyright  picture: © SIP / Charles Caratini

  • Updated 15-06-2016