ECONOMY

Gov’t targets closing the digital gap with EU by 2009

«We are making rapid progress, we can do even better,» would have been an apt slogan for Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis at his presentation yesterday of his ministry’s new campaign, «Digital Greece.» The campaign, he said, aimed at acquainting Greek citizens with the new information and telecommunication technologies (ITT), in which they have long been considered to be among Europe’s laggards. Alogoskoufis said the country had made rapid progress in the last three years and now possessed a satisfactory telecommunications infrastructure, but the vast possibilities afforded by ITT were still largely untapped by individuals and businesses. «Many of our citizens have not grasped the huge benefits that can accrue from tapping existing potential,» he said. «Digital Greece,» which is being launched today, will last 15 months and will be implemented through most media (television, radio, press and Internet) by Ashley & Holmes. The cost, 4 million euros, will be met through the European Union-subsidized Information Society program. According to Alogoskoufis, the penetration of broadband Internet services this summer is projected to reach 6.5 percent of the country’s population, from just 0.1 percent in 2004. The government is targeting the EU average by 2009. «We have to move faster to make up the huge technological gap that separated us three years ago from the other European countries,» Alogoskoufis said, adding that technology was not an end in itself, but an instrument for making everyday life easier and more productive. The ministry’s special secretary for digital convergence, Vassilis Asimakopoulos, said «Digital Greece» had its own Internet portal (www.psifiakiellada.gr). The portal’s introductory page presents a virtual city that will «gradually begin to be inhabited by digital services.»