Greece’s Minister of Digital Policy, Telecommunications & Media, Nikos Pappas, is betting strongly on investments in ICT and innovation based sectors as seeing them as the key to the country’s future economic prosperity. Saying that Greece has arrived at the stage of having “a sound fiscal situation,” Pappas stresses that not only has the country met its surplus targets, “we have been overachieving the surpluses,” he points out.
In an interview with South EU Summit, Pappas said he was confident that digitisation is going to be a crucial element for the country in achieving its ambitious goals. Greece is actively working to attract investments within the scope of the ICT sector, explained Pappas, which “I believe, [is] the sector of all sectors.” But it’s not just being done in an effort to keep up with some of Greece’s digitally savvy neighbours, Pappas ensures that it is a concrete step towards increased investments and economic growth.
“It is a sector that can make each sector of the economy more productive and make our life easier, our job more creative and more productive, and our interaction with the public sector more effective.” He emphasised the importance of educating both Greeks and international investors on the fact that things are changing “radically” in the country’s digital sector.
On an international level, Pappas says that Greece has received “interest from many parts of the world for investment in the telecom sector. On top of that, we have decided to direct each and every euro available in investment in future proof technologies,” in other words, products and services that will not need to be significantly updated as technology advances, serving as long-term investments.
At a domestic level, this change will be realised in the improvements of everyday life for Greeks, like “safe access to very high speed connectivity to the internet. This is going to change our lives radically.”
This change will also penetrate the public sector, which Pappas said the government is working to digitise rapidly. In fact, a successful pilot project was undertaken in the Ministry of Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Media. “This Ministry is fully digitalised and all papers are moved around not by paper, but digitally. I arrive in my office in the morning and I can have the work flow picture of what is going on, what is left to be done, and this is going to be expanded for the whole of the public sector within 2018.”
While the upgrade will certainly bring increased convenience and efficiency, it also speaks financial volumes. Once the entire process is diffused into the public sector, Pappas estimates that the digital upgrade “is going to save us 400 million euros in costs per year. This is a shy estimation I would say, because you cannot put a number on the working hours that you save when everything is there in front of you.”
In addition to offering a technology upgrade for Greek citizens and government bodies, the country is also veering towards one of history’s most innovative markets: outer space. The recent launch of the Hellenic Space Agency highlights the country’s pursuit of scientific excellence and its efforts to reverse the “brain-drain” that pulled bright Greeks out of their country to pursue the space industry in places with more developed programmes. These new advancements – coupled with the government’s commitment to boost the digitisation of the economy and improve ICT infrastructure – will undoubtedly boost foreign investment and pay dividends, literally.