High-tech boom in Belarus
Thanks to a scientific culture inherited from the Soviet era and a series of tax incentives, Belarus has managed to develop a dynamic technology sector, which employs more than 38,000 people with a good standard of living.
Its exports in the sector with growth rates of 50% will reach $800 million this year.
Belarussian and Israeli programmers of the Belarusian origin are those who have developed the Viber application to send messages or make free calls between smartphones. Recently, the Israeli company Viber Out was bought by the Japanese Rakuten group.
But the most striking success of the sector is the war game World of Tanks, which has attracted more than 100 million fans worldwide.
The trend was reinforced in 2005 with the creation of the Park of High Technologies, an activity area where companies in the sector are exempt from tax. The park is virtual and only has a few buildings near the center of Minsk, the capital. Most of the 144 companies registered are in other parts of the country, but enjoy the tax benefits.
The formula seems to work so much that the park attracts foreign workers. 10% of employees are those hired from outside, and among them are German, French, British or South Koreans. Belarusians programmers enjoy good living conditions with an average monthly salary that in ten years grew from $236 to about $2,000.
With a wage indexed on the dollar and a tax rate of 9%, compared with 13% for the rest of the population, the situation of these programmer is enviable in a country in economic crisis because of the recession in neighboring Russia and devaluations in recent months.