Moldova’s Internet market continues to develop rapidly. Broadband penetration is hardly reaching 13%, a rate that is well below the European average, although greater development is expected in coming years. Broadband subscriber growth has been particularly strong since 2009, with the sector dominated by two service providers – Moldtelecom and StarNet – which account for 88% of all connections despite the presence of about 50 ISPs nationally. The mobile market has also grown rapidly and now accounts for the majority of total telecoms revenue.
Despite recent progress, Moldova remains one of the poorest countries in Europe. With a moderate climate and good farmland, Moldova’s economy relies heavily on its agriculture sector. Moldova also depends on annual remittances of about $1.6 billion from the roughly one million Moldovans working in Europe, Russia, and other former Soviet Bloc countries. With few natural energy resources, Moldova imports almost all of its energy supplies from Russia and Ukraine. The government’s goal of EU integration has resulted in some market-oriented progress. Moldova experienced better than expected economic growth in 2014 due to increased agriculture production, to economic policies adopted by the Moldovan government since 2009, and to the receipt of EU trade preferences. Moldova signed an Association Agreement and a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the EU during fall 2014, connecting Moldovan products to the world’s largest market. Over the longer term, Moldova’s economy remains vulnerable to political uncertainty, weak administrative capacity, vested bureaucratic interests, corruption, higher fuel prices, Russian pressure, and the ongoing conflict with the separatist region of Transnistria.