The COVID-19 pandemic has had and will continue to have a significant toll on the economy, labor market, businesses and society. Some sectors in the economy are affected more, others less, but no one has “immunity”, as citizens and businesses limit their spending. According to the OECD, more than 50% of small and medium-sized businesses are already experiencing significant revenue losses, while estimates by the International Labor Organization (ILO) show that up to 305 million jobs could be affected at a global level.
As soon as the pandemic reached Greece, at Vodafone we implemented a comprehensive 6point plan, proving from the beginning our commitment to support our employees, customers, the State and society in this difficult situation. We immediately took strict health and safety measures to protect our employees and moved 93% of our staff to remote working within days. We increased our network capacity by up to 60% to address increased demand, while we supported critical government services to enable remote working, education and the provision of online services to citizens.
And of course, we stood by our customers by offering free voice, data and other solutions to support remote working and education, as well as home entertainment.
In total, the value of the initiatives we took in the first months of the crisis is more than €5 million. And this is only the beginning, as we are ready to work towards the successful restart of our economy, through a new plan that aims to support businesses and the most vulnerable in our society.
At the same time, we believe that we can all learn from the experiences gained over the past months and commit to the common effort to rebuild the economy, by placing digital strategy at the core of development plans and by focusing on four priority areas:
• Equal opportunities and digital skills: It is necessary to ensure everyone regardless of age, place of residence or financial status, has access to the technologies, digital tools and skills necessary for progress in the digital society of the future.
• Strong small and medium-sized businesses: Small and medium-sized businesses are a key driver of the economy and it is important to take initiatives to support their digitization, in order to enhance their ability to grow and continue to create value in the economy.
• E-government: We must seize the opportunity we have for broader digitalization of the public sector, in order to improve citizen services by utilizing modern IT and communication solutions.
• New generation digital infrastructure: International best practices advocate abandoning extractive spectrum auctions and prioritizing processes that support sustainable competition and efficient network development.
The new digital reality brought as a result of the pandemic constitutes a valuable legacy that will help restart the economy in the day after, while creating new opportunities for everyone. Greece’s approach in dealing with the pandemic has been recognized globally as a best practice and has effectively cultivated a trusted profile for the country, upon which we can build decisively. This achievement can help boost our economic efforts, restart tourism and attract investments.
At Vodafone, we believe that now is the right time to dare, to overcome fears, obstacles or hurdles of the past and to work together, taking initiatives for a better, more exciting and promising digital future.
THE COMPANY AT A GLANCE
Vodafone Group is one of the world’s leading technology communications providers, connecting people and organisations of all sizes to the digital society. We have extensive experience in connectivity, convergence and the Internet of Things, as well as championing mobile financial services and digital transformation in emerging markets.