A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between Ukraine and Latvia, which will see the latter provide support to rebuild Ukraine's telecoms infrastructure, which has been damaged in its war with Russia.

This week saw Ukraine's Ministry of Digital Transformation sign a 10-point agreement with Latvia's Ministry of Transportation during Latvia's 5G Techritory event, which is currently being held in Riga.

Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine began in February of last year, CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies) estimates that more than $2 billion worth of damage has been caused to Ukraine's ICT infrastructure.

The war has led to the destruction of more than 4,000 base stations, plus 60,000 kilometers of fiber-optic lines, while 12.2 percent of households have lost access to mobile services.

Latvia will also provide support to Ukraine's development of ICT infrastructure and its integration into the EU and other projects.

The MoU was signed by Ukraine's Vice Prime Minister for Innovations, Development of Education, Science, and Technologies and Minister of Digital Transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, and Latvia's Minister of Transportation, Kaspars Briškens.

“Ukraine needs more innovations to stay resilient and keep the pace of the world. In particular, launching 5G," said Fedorov.

"Today we've signed a memorandum with the Latvian Ministry of Transport on digital connectivity. We will jointly work on rebuilding the broadband infrastructure, supporting Ukrainian mobile operators, and speeding up the 5G launch in Ukraine."

"Working with and learning from Ukraine can not only help us to achieve our goals but can meaningfully contribute towards bringing Ukraine into the European digital ecosystem," added Kaspars Briškens, Minister of Transportation of the Republic of Latvia, who spoke of the importance of driving 5G/6G adoption, building an industry digital twin, and deploying smart ITS, IoT, and future mobility systems.

Ukraine's 5G hopes

The 10-point plan will also see the Latvian government work to provide advice and exchange of best practices in designing laws and regulatory basis according to EU and international best practices for Ukraine, while exchanging experience and offering training to the country's telecom industry.

A key focus of the MoU is also to launch 5G in Ukraine, which has been delayed so far due to the war.

Speaking to DCD, Stanislav Prybytko, director general of the directorate for mobile broadband for Ukraine's Ministry of Digital Transformation, explained that the war with Russia has stalled the country's 5G goals.

"Our government adopted a plan in 2020, to launch 5G technology in 2022. But due to the full-scale invasion, we changed this," he said.

Prybytko noted that the country has fallen behind on gaining scientific research around the technology due to the war.

However, he added that Ukraine is hopeful of launching a 5G pilot next year.

"It's currently not safe to carry out scientific research, so we need to wait until the end of the war, and only then will it be practical to start. But still, we don't want to waste this time. We are in the process of negotiations with our military services to launch a 5G pilot next year."

He noted that pilots will be carried out in Ukraine's biggest cities, including the capital, Kyiv.