Ambassador to the United States Republic of Kosovo
Former telecommunications entrepreneur and CEO Akan Ismaili was credentialed as the Republic of Kosovos second Ambassador to the United States on May 2.
Immediately after the NATO bombing ended in 1999, Mr. Ismaili co-founded Internet Project Kosovo (IPKO), a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the use of information and communications technology as a tool to foster rebuilding and development in Kosovo. IPKO has been credited with bringing the internet to Kosovo. In 2001, IPKO split into two entities: IPKOnet and IPKO Institute, and Mr. Ismaili served as the CEO of IPKOnet, a company that expanded access to broadband, mobile, fixed telephone and television in Kosovo. Over his 10 year tenure, IPKO became a modern enterprise and is now recognized as one of the fastest growing telecommunications companies in Europe and a fundamental pillar of the new economy in Kosovo.
During the same time, Mr. Ismaili co-founded the American University Foundation in Kosovo, which draws support from Kosovar citizens and its diaspora to establish an American-style higher education institution in Kosovo. To date, the foundation has raised more than $8 million dollars which it has used for numerous programs in conjunction with New Yorks Rochester Institute of Technology.
Prior to the war, Mr. Ismaili managed IT infrastructure for the American diplomatic office in Pristina. When the war started in Kosovo and the U.S. became involved in diplomatic negotiations, Mr. Ismaili served as a translator for U.S. diplomats. Just before the NATO bombing campaign began, Mr. Ismaili was evacuated to Vienna, where he led a team of four people tasked with translating and distributing U.S. government news articles to the Albanian-language media in the region and at refugee camps.
Mr. Ismaili began University studies in Pristina in 1992. At the time, the University had only semi-legal operations after the entire Albanian language was banned in Kosovo from 1989. Mr. Ismaili studied computer science before withdrawing in 1994 to setup the first e-mail server in Pristina, which played a central role in helping the opposition organize against the old regime.
Mr. Ismailis work has been featured by The Advocacy Project, WIRED and the New York Times.
In December 2007, the Economic Chamber of Kosova (ECK) named him Manager of the Year.