ECONOMY

Greece falling behind digital age

Broadband network availability in Greece is desperately low, at just 12 percent of households, against an EU-15 average of 90 percent, said EU Commissioner for Information Society Viviane Reding in her speech at an Economist conference in Athens yesterday. Last July, the commissioner said, penetration of broadband networks stood at just 2.7 percent of Greeks, compared with an EU average of 15 percent, with leading countries reaching 30 percent, she told the conference titled «Digital Greece: Setting Technology in its Right Dimension.» Nonetheless, in the last few months there has been steady progress recorded in this country, taking penetration to about 4 percent by end-October, according to data released by OTE telecom this week. «Greece, if belatedly, is heading in the right direction, as the government and the prime minister have realized the need for the swift development of new technologies,» said Reding. She added that Europe must act faster to catch up with the USA and said that a new regulatory framework to help to open up the market is needed for the better promotion of broadband networks. Interior and Public Works Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos told the conference the government is redesigning the most important and popular digital administrative services. The project includes the digitalization of all public archives. «The importance of the measure becomes evident if one takes into account the fact that public departments issue about 30,000 certificates annually, engaging 30,000, or about 15 percent, of all public servants,» he said. Pavlopoulos said the targets of the digital strategy for the next six years are primarily improving citizens’ dealings with bureaucracy, productivity and entrepreneurship. Citizens will apply for documents through a national portal and their applications will be processed after the authentication of their digital signature. The authentication of the digital signatures of about 300,000 businesses will be effected in cooperation with the Social Security Foundation (IKA). Meanwhile, the Syzefxis platform, which has already been activated, serves about 2,000 public agencies and will soon be extended to 900 more, covering all advanced telematic services. Apart from speeding up and facilitating transactions, it is estimated that the platform will save about 65 million euros in the costs of phone calls between departments alone.