Cyprus Mail

Island shows digital development but still lags behind Europe

Cyprus ranks 21st among the 28 EU nations on the European Commission’s latest digital scoreboard, published on Tuesday.

According to the Digital Economy and Society Index (Desi) 2018, “Cyprus is progressing slowly but steadily. It shows improvement in all aspects of DESI. Even though it is ranked 21st, Cyprus is relatively close to the EU average.

“Improvement in digital skills is crucial, since, although internet users engage in a wide variety of online activities, low levels of digital skills could hold back its digital economy and society. Moreover, despite some progress in the past few years, Cyprus still lags behind the EU average in supply and demand for eGovernment services.”

The Desi score is structured around five chapters: connectivity, human capital, use of internet services, integration of digital technology, and digital public services.

For connectivity, Cyprus ranked 19th, with the report noting that the island “performs well in fixed, fast and ultrafast broadband coverage and in fixed and mobile broadband take-up. In all these categories, Cyprus is above the EU average and its scores are improving (with the exception of fixed broadband coverage, which is close to 100 per cent). On the other hand, it lags behind in 4G coverage, fast and ultrafast broadband uptake and the broadband price index.”

In terms of human capital, the country ranked 24th. The report states: “In 2017, 79 per cent of the Cypriot population used the internet regularly (versus 74 per cent in 2016), but only 50 per cent possessed at least basic digital skills.

“Moreover, Cyprus has a low share of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math graduates (9.8 per cent), ranking lowest among EU countries. The country has also a lower share of ICT specialists in the workforce (2.2 per cent) than the EU average (3.7 per cent).”

For internet use, the island was in 17th place. According to the Desi report, regarding online interactions “Cyprus is not progressing compared to last year, with 34 per cent of individuals using eBanking services and 39 per cent shopping online. The ‘ICT Household Survey for Cyprus’ carried out by the Statistical Service of Cyprus (Cystat), shows that the main factor holding back the development of e-commerce is that 48.3 per cent of Cypriots using the internet prefer to shop in person.”

As far as the integration of digital technology is concerned (rank 17), companies in Cyprus “do engage in the use of social media and do trade online, but are less inclined to take up new technologies such as Cloud and RFID.”

Lastly, regarding digital public services (rank 18), the report states that “Cyprus remains, over-all, below the EU average. However, regarding prefilled forms offered for public services, Cyprus has progressed compared to last year, scoring 58, while the EU average is 53.

“Online service completion and digital public services for businesses that are active across borders remained at the same level as in 2016. Open data, on the other hand, is steadily advancing, with Cyprus scoring 75 per cent, almost 20 percentage points higher than last year’s scores.”

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