The information and telecommunications technology (ICT) sector in Latvia began in the 1960s, when the Institute of Mathematics and Computer Science and the Institute of Electronics and Computer Science were founded. The latter institute developed expert technology for Soviet moon programs, and had 800 employees working on R&D projects. In 1992, with UNESCO support, Latvia established its first internet connection, after which internet and computer use expanded rapidly. These well-established institutes and stellar achievements prove the solid legacy and tradition of education, technology, and R&D in Latvia.
Although the ICT sector itself comprises only 4.6 % of the GDP of Latvia, their importance goes well beyond that. ICTs are vital to:
- meeting the globalization challenge by boosting innovation, creativity, and competitiveness throughout the economy;
- delivering cutting-edge science in all scientific and technological areas;
- making the public sector more efficient, and modernizing sectors ranging from education to energy;
- tackling social challenges, improving the quality of life, and meeting the challenge of an ageing society.
In 2018, there were approx. 6,894 companies active in the ICT sector. Only 111 of them were producing ICT equipment, 539 were operating in the telecommunications industry, while more than 5,000 companies specialized in other ICT services and 544 in ICT equipment sales. In 2018, the number of employees in the ICT sector was more than 36,000.