HomeFact-o-MeterFalseHas the Pyramid become the largest digital hub in the Balkans?

Has the Pyramid become the largest digital hub in the Balkans?

By Esiona KONOMI

On May 11, 2023, Edi Rama and Erion Veliaj concluded Tirana’s electoral campaign with the inauguration of the renovated Pyramid.

Amidst a spectacle of lights, the enthusiasm of Tirana’s mayor, seeking a third term, declared:

‘Today, we’re not just opening a building, a landmark, or an Instagrammable spot, but we’re also opening the largest digital center in the Balkans for the youth of Tirana and all of Albania.’

A year after this declaration, Faktoje conducted on-site monitoring of the services and activities at the Pyramid.

The only center offering digital services in programming and coding for youth is “TUMO,” which previously operated near the “Air Albania” Stadium and later relocated to the Pyramid.

Within this structure, there are no other units offering similar services.

One of the colorful cubes on the exterior of the Pyramid has been allocated to the company “Alba Game.” Despite its specialization in games and digital devices, this unit serves only for the sale of technological products, rather than for the qualification of young people.

Offices near the Pyramid have been taken by the American and French embassies to provide information for young people wishing to study in these countries, but their focus, based on the goals announced during promotions, is not digital education.

An outdoor space is also dedicated to the European College, an EU investment for the youth of the Balkans in master-level education, yet it is not directly linked to technological empowerment.

The office near the Pyramid has benefited from leasing to a second-tier bank (Intesa Sanpaulo) and an insurance company, Sigal. We verified all the services offered by the entities operating at the Pyramid, but they also do not provide specific courses or training for young people, only commercial activities.

11 spaces have been put into operation for private entities, such as bars, restaurants, or souvenir shops.

The verification resulted in well-known brands in the local market offering these services, such as Mulliri, Mon Cheri, or bars with names like Sentea, Soma, Dev8, Tonys, and Papas.

They are also joined by pasta restaurants: Pastaria and Banas, while inside the Pyramid, there is also a souvenir shop.

The Albanian-American Development Foundation (AADF), which co-manages this building with the Municipality of Tirana, has also provided an office inside the Pyramid to the non-governmental youth organization created by the foundation itself, called Junior Achievement Albania.

Mixed-service office in the Pyramid

  1. Intesa Sanpaulo Bank
  2. Sigal Insurance Company
  3. NGO, Junior Achievement Albania (Part of AADF)
  4. European College Office
  5. French Club
  6. US Education Office
  7. Alba Game Shop

Did TUMO change when it moved to the Pyramid?

Tirana Municipality was asked about the developments at the Pyramid during this year, but it avoided giving specific answers, arguing that this structure is now managed by an NGO called “Piramida Center,” to which Tirana Municipality has leased the property.

Shqipe Berisha, the manager of the “TUMO” center, contacted by phone, expressed satisfaction with the relocation of “TUMO” to the Pyramid.

According to her ‘The Pyramid attracts more attention and makes it easier for young people and their families to access information and show interest in the programs offered by ‘TUMO’.’

When asked by Faktoje about the additional offerings at the center within the Pyramid, Manager Berisha stated that two new disciplines have been introduced for young people.

‘TUMO Tirana, upon its launch in 2020, provided 8 disciplines: 3D Modeling, Robotics, Graphic Design, Animation, Programming, Game Development, Music, and Film Production. With the relocation to the Pyramid, the addition of two new disciplines—Photography and Drawing—became feasible,’ – explained Berisha.

Besmir Semanaj, a technology expert, stated that the current offerings at the Pyramid resemble the clubs that a high school in America or the EU might establish post-class hours.

These technology centers need commercialization, but not in the Albanian sense, which has now transformed the Pyramid into a business hub. In similar centers in America or the EU, you won’t find a single café, whereas here, it’s the opposite. I challenge any politician advertising this center to find a similar one in the Balkans or Europe with numerous cafes and restaurants dedicated to innovation‘, Semanaj told Faktoje.

Similarly, another expert, Gentian Progni, argues that having more training centers doesn’t necessarily add value, especially when hundreds already operate in the country.

The biggest paradox is that millions of euros have been poured into training centers, innovation, and startups, yet there hasn’t been a single success story so far. This speaks volumes about the façade‘, Progni told Faktoje.

Prof. Ndriçim Mehmeti, an educational policymaker, also conveyed to Faktoje that the current state of the Pyramid doesn’t resemble a center or free technology park catering to the youth and citizens of Tirana.

Mehmeti expressed, ‘It’s painful, disappointing, and shines a light on corruption, as has happened with other public properties that were initiated to serve the community but ended up serving private businesses.

Still Thirsty for Bars?

The Municipality of Tirana refused to provide details about the selection process for bars in the Pyramid, stating that the ‘Pyramid Center’ is not a public authority. They directed inquiries to the center itself for more information’.

‘The occupation’ of the Pyramid by at least 11 commercial units has sparked reactions from civil society.

Migen Qiraxhi from Civil Resistance said, ‘With an investment of 1.6 million euros, promises have been shattered, and all dreams have been reduced to ‘Bar-Cafés.’

‘Sadly, if this trend continues, our country will maintain the record set in 2018, ranking first globally for the number of bars and cafés per capita. Despite this, policymakers seem indifferent, even considering leasing educational facilities for ‘Bar-Cafés,‘ Qiraxhi shared with Faktoje.

Bars, restaurants, shops: 11 units

  1. Mulliri
  2. Mon Cheri
  3. Banas
  4. Souvenir Shop
  5. Sentea Bar
  6. Soma Bar
  7. Dev8 Bar
  8. Tony’s Bar
  9. Pastaria
  10. Papas Bar
  11. Bar in the inner part

Is the Pyramid now the largest digital center in the region?

On the day of the Pyramid’s opening, Veliaj described it as “the largest digital center in the Balkans for the youth of Tirana and all of Albania.”

As confirmed by the manager of the only technological space in the Pyramid, Tumo, currently the center is attended every week by 1680 students from Tirana, aged 12-18.

Children from other parts of Albania have not been able to attend the courses.

We have had children from Elbasan, Thumana, and Durrës. Around 20 in total” – said Shqipe Berisha to Faktoje.

She confirmed that this is the reach of Tumo’s activity, emphasizing that no young person from other countries in the region had taken lessons at the center.

“No, because TUMO offers classes after school and is dedicated to young people aged 12-18. However, soon other centers for technological education will open in the Pyramid, for students over 18 who will be able to welcome students from other countries,” – said the director of TUMO.

Anxhelo Lushka, a programmer interested in developments within the Pyramid, argues: “Unfortunately, I do not consider the Pyramid the technological center promised, as from the observations I have made, I have not seen any entity related to the world of technology/digitization or innovation that exploits the premises of the Pyramid.’

Gentian Progni, who describes himself as a stakeholder due to his ownership of a company in the field, argues that the Pyramid has deviated significantly from its promised purpose.

“It has transformed into a business center where the costs of having an office or space are much higher than anywhere else in Tirana,” Progni stated to Faktoje, using the success story of the ICT center in Kosovo as a counterexample.

 “Their director has been ranked among the top 40 most influential people in technology worldwide, according to Forbes. We shouldn’t try to reinvent the wheel; instead, we should view it as something serving young people, not as a profit-driven enterprise as it has become today‘ Progni emphasized.

Besmir Semanaj highlights the importance of attracting investors to such centers to stimulate research and development.

A technological center should have modern buildings and equipment. It should provide legal consultancy for those establishing start-ups there. Continuous training should be offered, either free of charge or at a lower cost than the open market. Daily events and conferences should be held. A community focused on this area should be fostered” Semanaj elaborated.

Ndriçim Mehmeti, an advocate for educational policies, believes that the Municipality should collaborate with ministries as well as public or private technology faculties. ‘Merely declaring the existence of a center with this name does not justify such a costly investment and endeavor’,Mehmeti said to Faktoje.


Based on on-the-ground verifications, official data provided, and expert evaluations, we conclude that the statement by the mayor of Tirana proclaiming the Pyramid as the largest digital center in the Balkans for the youth of Tirana and all of Albania is false.

*This article is part of the national fact-checking writing competition.

The first prize will be awarded the ‘Fatos Baxhaku’ prize.


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