Belarus is the country where the IT-sector has been rapidly growing for the past 20 years, which has resulted in such world-famous software products as Viber or the World of Tanks game. But Belarus has much more than software to offer – it is one of the few ex-Soviet states whose economy at present looks promising when it comes to the development of innovations.
Special economic zones
Belarus is a relatively large country that borders on both the EU and Russia. This location gives the country wide-ranging opportunities for cooperation in the West as well as the East and access to the large Eurasian Economic Union market. According to the World Bank’s 2018 economic rankings, Belarus is ranked 37 (for comparison, the Netherlands is ranked 36, Germany – 24).
The Prime Minister of Belarus, Andrei Kobyakov, said in one of his interviews that in comparison to many other ex-Soviet countries, Belarus is politically stable and has a clear foreign economic policy. These serve as the right conditions for international cooperation and for the development of innovations. In addition to this, the government of Belarus encourages entrepreneurship in hi-tech. In 2006 Belarus launched the Hi-Tech Park – a special (reduced tax) economic zone for software companies. Now there are around 200 residents in the Park. More than half of those are foreign companies and joint ventures.
But Hi-Tech Park is not one of a kind in the country. Currently, Belarus is building a new, bigger special economic zone – the China-Belarus Great Stone Industrial Park. The resident companies of this industrial site will be the manufacturers of electronics, fine chemistry, new materials and other high-tech goods.
IT companies in Belarus
Software development is currently the top-priority economic sector of Belarus. In 2017 president Lukashenko signed a ‘Development of Digital Economy’ decree that provides specific rules for the cryptocurrency sector in order to make Belarus more attractive to IT companies.
Famous IT start-ups that originated from Belarus include Viber Media (an instant messaging and VoIP app developed in Belarus and acquired by Japanese Rakuten), MSQRD camera filter app (acquired by Facebook) and countless other IT start-ups with up to 1 million audiences.
Why does Belarus succeed in IT? Perhaps it is due to the well-developed system of math and science education. Belarus inherited this system from the Soviet Union along with other ex-Soviet countries. However, the most important driving force behind the development of IT and high-tech in Belarus are industrious, entrepreneurial and well-educated Belarusian people – one of the main resources of the country.