By George Psyllides
Cyprus lagged behind its EU partners in the 2015 Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) — 22nd out of 28 – a system, which ranks countries based on their digital performance.
Fast broadband connections are available to 77 per cent of households, against 62 per cent in the EU, but internet take-up is relatively low, a Commission report said. It said price was one of the factors.
“Only 68 per cent of households subscribe to fixed broadband, limiting Cyprus’ ability to exploit the benefits of the digital economy.”
The island also lagged behind on the demand side with 28 per cent never having used the internet and only 48 per cent possessing basic levels of digital skills.
Although Cypriots engage in a broad range of online activities, their use of online banking — 35 per cent — and online shopping — 38 per cent — are much lower than the EU average.
“Low levels of trust seem to be holding back the development of its digital economy.
Cyprus falls into the cluster of low-performance countries, where it performs below average,” the Commission said.
DESI combines more than 30 indicators and uses a weighting system to rank each country based on its digital performance.
It is a composite index developed by the European Commission to assess the development of EU countries towards a digital economy and society.
It aggregates a set of relevant indicators structured around five dimensions: connectivity, human capital, use of internet, integration of digital technology and digital public services.
In terms of connectivity Cyprus performed relatively worse than most other EU countries, without exhibiting significant improvement from the previous year.
With an overall connectivity score of 0.43 the country ranked 24.
“Despite the fact that 100 per cent of Cypriot households are covered by fixed broadband 32 per cent of them do not yet subscribe to it.”
The report suggested that one of the culprits for the low take-up might be the subscription price “since it has the most expensive entry-level broadband in the EU.”
An individual seeking to subscribe to a broadband connection must spend on average three per cent of their gross income compared with the overall EU average of 1.3 per cent.
Cyprus has a low level of regular internet users, 65 per cent, and 28 per cent of the population has never used the internet — EU average is 18 per cent.
Cyprus ranks 14 in use of internet services but Cypriots appear to refrain most when they need to make transactions as the country lags behind both in online banking and shopping.
The island has improved in the integration of digital technology by businesses, 18 in 2015 compared with 21 in 2014, but businesses need to better exploit the possibilities offered by on-line commerce and cloud-based applications.
Cyprus ranked 17 on digital public services, “a moderate performance with a slight score improvement compared to the previous year.”