According to EIB, its loan will enable 60% of Serbians residents to gain access to the latest 5G network and extend the benefits of the 4G network to nearly everyone in the country.
It adds that since 2020, it has invested €195 million in three projects in Serbia supporting the digital transformation, as this is one of the priorities shared by the European Union and Serbia. This includes a €125 million investment in the digitalisation of Serbian schools and small and medium companies. The EIB is a leading financier of digitalisation projects in the European Union and partner countries around the world.
Commenting on the loan, EIB VP Lilyana Pavlova, who is responsible for activities in Serbia, said: “Our investment in the expansion of 5G and 4G mobile networks in Serbia is a major contribution by Team Europe towards a faster digital transformation of the Serbian economy. It is an investment in improved quality of life, increased competiveness and new business opportunities for local businesses. A fast and efficient digital transition and investment in information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure also boost innovation and contribute to a green, sustainable, circular and climate resilient Serbia. They are the cornerstone of a modern economy and its ability to create jobs and increase incomes. Finally, this loan underlines the EIB’s role as a key investor both in Serbia’s digitalisation and in the country — the two roles we are very proud of having and deeply committed to maintaining”.
Telekom Srbija CEO Vladimir Lucic added: “We are very pleased that the EIB, the most important financial institution of the European Union, has recognised us as a key market leader in the region and has partnered with us to invest in the development of the 5G network and upgrade of the 4G network in Serbia. The contract that we signed with EIB will contribute to speeding up the digital transformation of all sectors in the country, which is of key importance for the further advancement and development of our economy. Likewise, thanks to our partnership with the EIB, Telekom Srbija will provide residents in both urban and rural parts of this country with faster and easier internet access and thus create the conditions for speeding up digital transformation of society as a whole. Such partnerships have assured us of the fact that we have opted for the right development strategy for our company, which, with its innovative approach, provides top quality services to its customers at all times”.
Emanuele Giaufret, head of the EU Delegation to Serbia, said: “The European Union is by far the largest investor in Serbia: there is no other actor, which can support Serbia’s modernisation and the development of its infrastructures the way the EU and the EIB do: in transparency, in fairness, at such a scale with advantageous financial conditions. Only few hours after the European Union opened cluster 4 of accession negotiations with Serbia, this new loan shows once again how the EU can support political reforms with its strong financial power. Better connectivity will have great concrete impacts for citizens and businesses of Serbia: higher quality of life, more job and business opportunities”.