By Peter Stevenson
CYPRUS is far behind the rest of Europe when it comes to digital progress and despite an improvement recently it is developing too slowly compared with other EU countries according to Communications Minister Tasos Mitsopoulos.
In order to achieve the broader goal of reviving and restructuring the economy and creating new jobs, the government, the minister said, has prioritised six key objectives regarding a digital strategy.
Speaking at the fifth annual Infocom Cy conference named ‘Re-Power Cyprus: Digital Evolution and Business Continuity’ Mitsopoulos said the most important goal was to introduce digital entrepreneurship and digital modernisation into the public and private sectors.
The minister added that digital entrepreneurship was vital as small and medium sized businesses form the backbone of the economy. He said that they should be supported with solid plans which will improve information and communication technologies and promote e-commerce, which can greatly increase the business turnover of Cyprus.
The modernisation of the public sector and the availability of digital services will play a very important role, the minister said, in increasing the use of digital media by businesses and the public.
“It will reduce the administrative burden on companies which will save millions per year,” he said.
The modernisation of the public sector and the reduction of administrative burdens will help to free up resources, increasing the competitiveness of existing businesses and giving opportunities for new ones, resulting in an increase of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to Mitsopoulos.
“Emphasis will be placed on strengthening human resources through education and training,” he added.
“We believe that the growth and supply of digital services are the incentives needed for companies to invest in networks of high and ultra-high speed,” Mitsopoulos said.
The minister revealed that the Department of Digital Communications had announced a tender to grant authorisation of 900MHz, 1800MHz and 2100MHz radio bands for the establishment and operation of a third digital communications network to provide digital communications services on the island.
The licensing process is expected to be completed by the end of this year, according to Mitsopoulos.
He added that the mobile licences for the two telecoms companies, CyTA and MTN were in the process of being amended to allow them to use 4G networks.
“We predict that by 2020 digital content and applications will be fully available online,” he said.
Mitsopoulos also spoke about the European Commission’s mid-term review of digital agenda for Europe (DAE), which stressed that emphasis needs to be placed on areas relating to achieving a fully functional single digital market by 2015.
The DAE contains 13 specific goals which include the entire EU to be covered by broadband by 2013, the entire EU to be covered by broadband above 30 Mbps by 2020 and 50 per cent of the EU to subscribe to broadband above100 Mbps by 2020.