A post on the BBC’s website yesterday was aptly titled ‘Malta woos technology wanderers’.
I was once told by a consultant to the mobile industry that what Malta needs for the 21st century is the Princess Grace factor. Someone who understands the potential of the island, brings some glamour, invests some money and puts it on the world map.
TECOM Investments may not be Princess Grace. But a US$ 330m investment in Smart City in Malta is as close as it gets. Smarty city is the first European outpost for Dubai Internet City and Dubai Media City, and is positioned to become a Strategic Regional Centre of Excellence of ICT for Southern Europe & North Africa. With its focus on ICT & Media clusters, SmartCity@Malta is projected to be the country’s largest ever ICT private sector project and foreign direct investment as well as the largest ever new source of knowledge-based jobs to be secured by Malta. The project will also be accompanied by new state-of-the-art use of the environment of the site with the development of a hotel and other activities to help attract knowledge-based operations to the site.
For the time being, Smart City is just a collection of architects’ drawings and the target for new specialist ventures, including Muovo. There are many who, like me, believe that this project will have a significant impact for generations to come in Malta:
- •Smart City levers on Malta’s unique blend of critical success factors: technology; human capital; fiscal and regulatory incentives; English-speaking; European; safe; quality of life.
- It puts Malta on the map, for reasons other than sun, sea, diving, cultural heritage or MTV festivals.
- Ricasoli, an area long abandoned as an artefact of Malta’s manufacturing past, will be regenerated. There is some poignancy in replacing experiments of the past that have long failed because of globalisation, with new ones levering on what Malta can now deliver, thanks to investments in technology.
- Malta will attract an influx of professionals in technology and knowledge management sectors. Many of these will come from Europe and Asia. There is a great need for this island to look outwards again, to go multi-cultural.
- It creates 5,600 new jobs in Smart City alone – the multiplier effect in several unrelated employment sectors will be much higher.
- It clearly separates the responsibilities of Government from those of the private sector investment. There appear to be the right checks and balances to make sure that TECOM honour their responsibilities in terms of mix of industry and creation of employment.
- Government is committed to cutting through the red tape to facilitate movement of capital and labour. There is cross-party support for the project.
- Smart City is part of an overall national strategy focusing on specific ICT niches where Malta can make a significant impact. Being small, we can focus on what we can do best. A small slice of a big cake can make a major impact to the economy.
- It provides Malta with a chance to again become a strategic location. This time, instead of being strategic for military purposes, it puts Malta on the technology global map. We’re one hour away from Rome, three from London, 45 minutes from North Africa.
We are again connected.