A laggard in new technologies

Greece has fallen further behind in the development and use of new technologies, as illustrated by two reports published this week. According to the annual report by the European Commission for 2007, Greece is at the bottom of the European table in the penetration of broadband Internet access, while its growth in 2006 and 2007 is not enough to bridge the gap with other countries. Internet use is also low, although third-generation cellular telephony and digital television are showing some momentum in Greece. This country is last by some distance in the use of the Internet for educational purposes. Greek schools have by far the lowest percentage of access to broadband Internet, while teachers make minimal use of it. The index of information technology knowledge is particularly low among Greek workers. Furthermore, there is hardly any progress in the domain of electronic government, where Greece ranks even lower than in previous years. This index, along with those of innovation and investment in research and technology, are the most important, as the first portrays the use of Internet infrastructures to serve the citizens while the other two record economic development through use of new technologies. Greece’s backward steps in e-government definitely require a closer look and more active involvement by the bodies concerned. At least there is a positive evaluation of Greek policy for bridging the digital gap, as some growth toward an information society has been recorded. On the other hand, the report mentions that the measures announced remain at the very early stages, while one of the key points is the acceleration of their application. Separately, a World Economic Forum report ranks Greece 48th among 122 countries according to the Networked Readiness Index for 2006-2007, down from the 43rd spot in 2005-2006. The Federation of Greek Industries (SEV) referred to the WEF report, suggesting that the worst performance is in the cost of administrative regulations, the funds spent by companies on research and development, the extent and the impact of taxation, the availability of high-risk capital and the time required to set up an enterprise.

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