A NEW DIGITAL ECONOMY
The Investor Greece 2020 I Telecoms & IT I Analysis
“GREECE IS EXPERIENCING A TECHNOLOGICAL REVOLUTION WITH THE PRIVATE SECTOR INVESTING IN GREECE’S NETWORKS AND THE GOVERNMENT NURTURING STARTUPS AND RESEARCH CENTERS.”
A DIGITAL ECONOMY FOR SUSTAINABLE GROWTH
Greece today possesses a highly educated workforce and a significant pool of individuals with strong background and skills in science and engineering seeking opportunities in the current difficult economic environment. Prospects and human capital are therefore in place for Greece to become a dynamic technology hub, creating new and innovative companies with products and services designed for the global innovation economy.
Before the economic crisis, digital transformation and automation was a niche topic outside of a few countries like Japan. Countries can thrive with technology if they boost opportunities for people to succeed in the new labor market and for firms to leverage tech for improved productivity. Opportunities for people come mainly through better education: higher enrollments and more graduates with the right skills. Opportunities for firms come through investments in connective infrastructure and broadband access.
Greece’s position in education is relatively strong: 44 percent of 30- to 34-year-olds have a higher education degree, compared to the European Union average of 40 percent. Greece also has a tradition of science and technology; it has a relatively high share of STEM graduates, for example. While the economic crisis ravaged Greece’s economy and traditional sectors, entrepreneurs in Athens have produced new tech success stories with global reach, such as the mobile platform Upstream which has €25 million in European Investment Bank financing, the recruitment software Workable, and the taxi app Beat recently acquired by a Daimler subsidiary for €40 million. Greece is also not a minor player in cutting-edge digital technology research and development in the EU. Greek enterprises, universities, and research institutions are prominent in Horizon 2020, the big EU program for research and technological development, placing Greece within the top seven countries in Horizon 2020-supported tech research and development in the EU.
While Greece’s long-standing brain drain has worsened during the crisis years, its diaspora offers new opportunities for Greece’s tech sector to connect with entrepreneurs, investors, and scientists around the world. European funds have been allocated to broadband networks and other substantial investments are planned. Expectations are set for the EuroAsia Interconnector, linking the electricity systems of Israel, Cyprus and Greece, to include fiber-optic cables, for example.
INVESTING IN INFRASTRUCTURE
Broadband connectivity is of strategic importance for European growth and innovation in all sectors of the economy, as well as for social and territorial cohesion. The Digital Agenda for Europe acknowledges the socio-economic benefits of broadband and sets targets for broadband development in Europe, including that 50% or more of European households should subscribe to internet connections above 100 Mbps. According to the Digital Economy and Society Index 2019 (DESI 2019), Greece ranks 26th amongst EU countries in fast broadband coverage per household. In Greece, only 66% of homes have access to fast internet of above 30 Mbps, far below the EU coverage of 83%, and less than 1% have access to ultrafast broadband of at least 100 Mbps.
The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, €300 million of public support for Greece's Ultrafast Broadband Infrastructure Scheme. The scheme will bring ultrafast broadband services to customers in areas with insufficient connectivity in Greece. It is expected to advance the deployment of broadband infrastructure capable of delivering download speeds of at least 100 Megabits per second (Mbps), upgradable to 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps), to households, companies and public institutions. The scheme targets areas where no fast broadband infrastructure offering at least 30 Mbps is currently in place, and where no private investor has shown any interest to invest commercially in the near future.
The National Plan includes a set of legislative and regulatory interventions as well as tangible support actions for modern broadband infrastructure deployment. The first target, to be achieved by the end of 2020, includes the availability of Internet access at speeds over 30Mbps for all Greeks of the country. The second target is to reach at least 50% of Greek households should have an Internet connection with a speed of above 100Mbps.
A GOVERNMENT PRIORITY
The newly elected Mitsotakis Government plans to simplify the relationship between the Greek State, its citizens and business by simplifying processes, digitisation and less red tape. Under the Ministry of Digital Governance, a new initiative is expected to take place in order to develop a National Framework for Simplifying Procedures and Reducing Bureaucracy. The Government is aiming at the strengthening and updating of the Citizens’ Service Centres (KEP).
Two new financial actions with a total budget of €100 million were launched in Greece. The Digital Step and Digital Leap are aimed at supporting businesses in all sectors for targeted investments in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). The new digital General Commercial Registry and One Stop Services for Business is a flagship project to facilitate eBusiness in Greece. The main objective of the project is the upgrading of General Commercial Register, so that it becomes a modern and complete register for the benefit of business and administration. A Central Infrastructure for the Electronic Exchange of Documents between Public Bodies with “Advanced Digital Signatures" will be installed in a national cloud infrastructure. Through an application, citizens have access to their personal health records. A digital platform, One Stop Shop, allows persons to make their own company without having to visit any public service.
By 2020, the Government hopes to have made a significant contribution to the qualitative upgrading of civil-state relations, gradually forming a collective, social footprint for the civil servant, and focusing on efficiency, helpfulness, courtesy, equality and protecting the dignity of the public. Under the National Digital Strategy (EPSS), Greece is seizing the opportunities offered by the digital revolution to kick-start its economic development, creating new jobs, enhancing the efficiency of public administration, eliminating geographical and social exclusion, and strengthening inclusion of all citizens in the economic and social life of the country.is the road map and framework for digital growth.