Investment into ICT, in particular the adoption of four recommended new digital projects, promises Greece improved digital performance rankings and stimulation of new business.
The Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (“IOBE”) conducts a study into the benefits of Information and Communication Technologies (“ICT”) adoption in Greece. It is claimed that the digital economy and ICT sectors are growing seven times faster than the rest of the economic sectors. This transition to digital technology has been known to bring major benefits to businesses, consumers and the public sector. This occurs through improved efficiency and transparency in public administration, new business opportunity, job creation, enhanced competitiveness, greater social welfare and stimulation of entrepreneurship and innovation. However, such rapid evolution of digital technologies can create policy challenges, including ensuring that growth is sustainable and inclusive in reaching the full population.
Greece’s ICT adoption has been relatively slow and hence it has not yet reaped the full benefits from the development of these new technologies. For example, it falls below the EU average in 65 out of 84 ICT indicators based on the European Digital Agenda. Greece performs poorly in measures of broadband penetration, internet usage, and adoption of e-Commerce transactions. Indeed, in 2013 it was reported that 36% of the Greek population had never used the Internet. In 2010, Greece placed last in the EU for the provision of integrated electronic services to consumers and businesses. This is reflective of the fact that Greece’s economy is struggling to recover from recession, with unemployment at the level of around 27% of the population. Policy makers face a difficult fiscal environment with which to encourage economic growth, and to launch the digital growth process. The main digital areas in which Greece lags compared to the EU average include: household broadband connection, mobile broadband penetration, high speed broadband penetration, digital skills, e-commerce indicators and SMEs’ use of ICT.
IOBE recommends four digital projects for policy makers to prioritise in order to reap major benefits for the economy. The four key projects include: developing e-skills; utilisation of digital solutions for transactions between public administrations, consumers and businesses; creation of open data; and fostering an environment conducive to new entry of SMEs and start-ups. IOBE quantifies the adoption of these digital projects. For instance, digital signature solutions in Greek public administration is projected to cut costs by EUR 380 million in the first year of adoption. Increasing the diffusion of open data by 100% will create 6332 new businesses, raise its competitiveness ranking by 25 positions and raise its transparency ranking by 33 positions. Training 1000 individuals in e-skills will increase Greek exports by EUR 13.9 million, and create 72 new businesses. SME ICT adoption will increase the probability of innovation by up to 9 percentage points, and increase the likelihood to export by up to 4 percentage points.