“Ukraine is a country of a great potential” – this is a message heard at each panel of the Kyiv International Economic Forum this year.
The question is not only how to use it, but also how to keep it in Ukraine. The country’s IT sector could become the economy’s growth engine, alongside agriculture and heavy industry, but there’s a gap between could and will that the country is working to bridge.
There are large numbers of IT specialists in Ukraine, mostly specialised in software, – says Vasyl Khmelnytsky, first vice president of the Ukrainian League of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs.
“We would like to create an environment that is favourable for startups. It’s very important to keep startups in Ukraine. The same with the people behind them, it’s very important to keep them in Ukraine. We’ve got cases of Ukrainian business creating products and selling them abroad. Teams behind this startups also go abroad.”
Khmelnytsky adds that these IT specialists and entrepreneurs would not leave if they felt Ukraine could offer them the same conditions as some of its neighbours.
The country currently exports billions of dollars worth of software every year. By 2020 its IT market could expand to $5.7 billion from $2.7 billion in 2015, according to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
That would mean Ukraine’s IT sector taking the second spot among exports within just a few years. Alread it ranks third despite it’s relatively youth.
Ukraine has the largest and fastest-growing number of IT professionals in Europe. Its IT engineering work force is expected to double to over 200,000 by 2020, – according to IT Outsourcing News portal.
“An IT specialist is a person who is working nonstop programming, hardly going out. And he should feel comfortable. Certain conditions are needed, including support, tax privileges. Big companies should bring their research centres and start producing here in Ukraine. When people stay, when they earn good money and spend that money shopping – that’s exactly economic growth,” says Khmelnytsky.
“A person at a computer in Ukraine might work for the US or China. Thera are no longer borders and frontiers in the world.“
He also says it’s important to apply the same general principles to investors as they all need same conditions.
“We should not differentiate investments from Ukraine and from abroad. We appreciate all investors, because it all starts with a small Ukrainian investor. Once he puts in money and succeeds, his partners will follow and it will go on. “
This article is produced in conjunction with the Kyiv International Economic Forum