Steady GDP growth and record-low unemployment have helped Malta emerge as one of Europe’s best performing economies in recent years. What do you believe are the main challenges and growth opportunities for the IT sector in the coming years?
Malta has a very strong IT culture, however a shortage of skilled IT people remains a challenge. The authorities are investing more in order to attract more students to the IT sector. In this regard, Microsoft has been one of the biggest partners of Malta’s Government in building a robust ecosystem that encourages more new IT-oriented companies. Microsoft’s main challenge within Malta’s IT sector remains that of growing its partner ecosystem and to push for a more solid environment for the adoption of cloud technology.
Attracting foreign direct investment and economic diversification are essential to drive Malta’s economy forward. Outside of your own sector, what areas of the economy do you feel offer foreign direct investors the greatest opportunity?
Economically, Malta has come a long way over the past 25 to 30 years. From an economy that was mostly dependent on basic tourism and manufacturing in the 80s, the country started diversifying its economic pillars by venturing into new sectors such as financial services, shipping, iGaming, aviation, logistics and the pharmaceutical sectors. All this was heavily supported by the fact that Malta joined the EU in 2004. Today Malta is one of the largest flag registration countries in the world and is taking advantage of its geographic position to introduce a stronger hubbing concept for maritime transport and logistics. It is also investing in tertiary education for foreign visitors and leveraging the opportunities from the growing healthcare industry as well as health tourism.
As a major foreign investor in Malta, what would you highlight as the main attractions of doing business in and from Malta?
Companies who do business in Malta will immediately tell you about the country’s robust financial services sector, which has been attracting leading investors from around the world. Indeed, Microsoft was attracted to Malta because we realised the important role the country was going to have after it joined the European Union.
Malta is a very centrally located and reachable country, with a well-educated, multi-lingual workforce, great flight connections and hosting some of the most prestigious brands in the world. Besides enjoying trade links with Europe, the Middle East and north Africa, Malta is today considered an important hub for knowledge-based industries and a centre for excellence. Malta also holds other important advantages ranging from excellent potential for low-cost financing of investment transactions, a modern developed telecommunications system, high quality healthcare services, an open economy and an excellent reputation as a centre for international financial services. Within this scenario, Microsoft looks at Malta as a country that has embraced technology and made it a driving force for economic growth, stability and 21st century education.