The Croatian ICT market growth was steady in the last five years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, strong government modernization efforts, healthy enterprise investments and a strong consumer outlook. ICT services account for about 70% of the market, followed by 26% from equipment sales, and only 3% from hardware manufacturing. The ICT market is still relatively unsaturated, so the country is expected to retain positive outlook for enterprise IT adoption, focused on cloud computing, enterprise resource planning implementation, customer relationship management software, Internet of Things, e-commerce, and work-from-home solutions. The PC market in Croatia is saturated with smartphone domination further lowering PC demand. The largest ICT customers are telecoms, financial institutions, healthcare, and retail, while the growing demand has been recognized in utilities, manufacturing, transport, tourism, public sector, and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Croatia ranks 21st of 27 EU Member States in the 2022 edition of the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI). Despite this overall low ranking, there are some technologically advanced segments in Croatia. Seventy-seven percent of Croatia’s population uses the Internet and Croatia has the highest share of individuals aged 16 to 24 with basic or above basic overall digital skills (97%) in the European Union. While Croatia has good, fast broadband coverage (86% national and 39% rural), its overall fixed broadband uptake is slightly below the EU average. 5G spectrum allocations were auctioned in August 2021, a positive development that has helped accelerate the digital transformation and is bringing benefits to both businesses and individuals.
The use of internet services in Croatia is comparable to the EU average, with news, video calls, music, videos, and games being the most used services. According to DESI 2022, Croatia ranks 14th among all EU countries regarding integration of digital technology. Advanced technologies are becoming more popular among Croatian enterprises, with 35% using cloud solutions, 43% using e-invoices, and 9% using AI solutions.
According to DESI, Croatia is still among the least connected in the EU, although 4G coverage is 98%, above the EU average. There is near-complete mobile 4G coverage and the uptake of mobile broadband stands at the EU level (81%). Croatia has assigned all 5G spectrum in the pioneer bands (5G readiness reached 100%), but still lacks complete 5G coverage. In March 2021, the Croatian Government adopted the National Plan for Broadband Development. The plan considers the EU 2030 objectives but mainly covers the components of the previous 2016-2020 strategy.
The eCitizen platform was launched in 2014 to unite all eGovernment services for citizens. The platform offers 66 eServices and 75% of Internet users used it to submit forms. To become more user friendly and to merge services for citizens and business entities, the government modernized the platform in 2021 and again in 2023. EU funds are the primary source of financing for digital technology advancements in the public sector. According to the National Development Strategy Croatia 2030, the four digital priority areas for the government are: digital transition of the economy, digitalization of public administration and judiciary, development of broadband electronic communication networks, and development of digital competences and digital jobs. Achievement of the strategy’s targets would increase the information and communication technology (ICT) industry’s share in GDP to 15 percent by 2032, up from 4.5 percent in 2019.
The best performance within eGovernment in Croatia is in the use of eHealth services. An estimated 22% of citizens use these services, which is above the EU average of 18%. The National Healthcare Information System (CEZIH) offers ePrescription, eReferral, eBooking, Electronic Health Record (EHR), a Patient Portal, eSickLeave, eMedicalAids, as well as eHealthcare and eWorkInjury services for employers. Croatia is among several EU countries that started implementation of cross-border services involving e-prescription and access to patient data by physicians in EU countries.
The development of Smart City infrastructure in Croatia is ongoing, but still lags behind other Western countries. This segment is strongly supported and driven by European Union funds. The Association of Cities promotes the development of Smart City concepts and an increase in the use of EU funds for Smart City projects.
According to the study “Digital Readiness of Croatian Cities,” conducted by the regional consulting company Apsolon, Rijeka and Zagreb are the leading large Smart Cities in Croatia. Among the medium-sized cities, Pula and Karlovac scored the best, while Varazdin, Dubrovnik, and Bjelovar scored the best among small cities. Some smaller cities, like Pleternica and Koprivnica, also have extensive Smart City projects with focus on quality of life and transparency.
Croatia is an emerging regional cybersecurity leader that especially excels in detection and response capabilities – skills that are in high demand due to increased cyberattacks throughout Europe. Croatia is transposing the EU Directive on the Security of Network and Information Systems 2 (NIS 2 Directive) that is expected to boost demand for cybersecurity solutions. The Ministries of Defense and Interior are intensively developing cybersecurity capabilities, including the recently established Military Cyber Command Center in Zagreb. NIS2 will formalize the Security and Intelligence Agency (SOA) as detection and response lead, require all critical infrastructure companies to report breaches, and establish an expanded National Center for Cyber Security. SOA built a Cyber Technologies Center in 2019 to protect national cyberspace from state-sponsored cyberattacks and advanced persistent threat (APT) campaigns, and its SK@UT program, a distributed network of sensors that protects over 60 key government and critical infrastructure-related entities, ranks among the top three in the EU.
Croatian Regulatory Authority for Network Industries (HAKOM)Central State Office for Digital Society Development (RDD)e-Citizens (Croatia)National Healthcare Information System (CEZIH)Association of Cities in Croatia (Udruga gradova)National CERT (Croatia)
U.S. Embassy - U.S. Commercial Service
Manuela Celic Marusic, Commercial Assistant
Tel: +385 (0)1 661 2020