Belgium’s information and communication technology (ICT) sector is flourishing. It currently contributes over 4% of Belgium’s gross domestic product, and between 1997 and 2007 it accounted for a sixth of the country’s growth in GDP. The latest IT Industry Competitiveness Index 2009 ranked Belgium in eighteenth place worldwide. This underlines just how important the ICT sector is to the Belgian economy.
Belgium has excellent network infrastructure. Thanks to a competitive fixed network market, more than 99% of households have access to a coaxial network and/or copper pair network. Over 70% of the population can potentially download files at a rate of 20 Mbit/s, and the country’s optical fibre network is constantly being expanded. Where mobile communications are concerned, Belgium’s 3G network already boasts 90% coverage and the upgrade to a 4G network will soon be made.
Enhancing Belgium’s attractiveness
To stimulate employment and above all innovation in this sector, researchers’ salaries are being partially exempted from social security contributions and tax. Furthermore, the public authorities have developed a Digital Plan for Belgium (click here for details in French or Dutch) to make our country the heart of digital Europe.
Belgium’s three Regions are all very active in the ICT domain.
Apart from an ICT cluster, Wallonia has a specialist agency, the Walloon Telecommunications Agency (AWT), and competence centres specially dedicated to these technologies. This proactive policy is already bearing fruit, for the sector’s two most emblematic companies, Google and Microsoft, recently started up operations at a high-tech business park in Mons.
The Walloon Telecommunication Agency (AWT) (fr)
The new information and communication technologies sector occupies a key position in the Brussels-Capital Region as well. A third of Belgium’s ICT activities are based in Brussels, one of the 10 key cities for Internet activity and it figures among the 20 leading centres for telecommunications. Moreover, the Brussels ICT sector numbers nearly 2,000 companies, employs 30,000 people and generates annual revenue totalling €4.5 billion!