‘Cyprus should invest in infrastructure to empower the tech sector families moving to the island,’ stakeholders say
by Souzana Psara
This year’s TechIsland Summit, held in Limassol last week, examined a great deal of topics concerning the island’s business, technology, and innovation ecosystem. Among these was the pressing issue of housing for relocating technology professionals to Cyprus.
As Cyprus emerges as a thriving IT hub, the availability of suitable housing solutions has become paramount.
During the festival’s panel discussion on the theme of “Making Cyprus Home: Laying Foundations in Infrastructure for Tech Families,” Petr Valov, CEO of Exness, stated that “we need more transparency in the investment market to tackle corruption and provide a fair playing field for investors”.
One of the prominent concerns raised during the discussion was the unfavourable investment landscape in the housing market due to high taxation.
Yiannis Misirlis, Founding Director at Imperio and Deputy Chairman at Cyprus Developers Association (LBDA) emphasised the existing gap in the housing market.
He pointed out that the high demand outweighs the supply, leading to skyrocketing property prices driven by market forces, not just construction costs.
“There is a constant problem of more demand than supply in Cyprus, which is driving property prices to unsustainable levels,” Misirlis said.
What is more, bureaucratic hurdles also hinder the development of housing projects, as highlighted by Christiana Erotokritou, a member of the House of Representatives of Cyprus.
She stressed the urgent need for policy changes to streamline and expedite the procedures for housing development in Cyprus.
Erotokritou emphasised, that “we need to address the bureaucratic obstacles that slow down housing development in Cyprus and find ways to streamline the process”.
The panel revealed a staggering statistic: there are approximately 33,000 dormant housing units in Cyprus that have not been released to the market, further exacerbating the supply-demand gap.
To ensure the stability of the real estate sector and address the affordability crisis, Yiannis Misirlis proposed the creation of a master plan for the island, offering tax incentives to investors, and implementing faster procedures for planning permits.
“We need a master plan to guide the development of housing in Cyprus, tax incentives to attract investors, and streamlined planning procedures to speed up the construction process,” Misirlis explained.
The discussion, led by moderator Constantinos Savvides from PwC Cyprus, ended with a focus on the importance of planning ahead.
All the panellists agreed that it is necessary to review and restructure current housing policies to meet the changing demands of Cyprus’s growing technology sector.
The TechIsland Summit, held within the framework of the Reflect Festival, also explored the theme of the “Future of Living.”
The discussion revolved around smart, energy-efficient, and sustainable buildings that benefit both users and the environment.
Antonis Kakoullis, from the Pancyprian Association of Land Development and Building Entrepreneurs, highlighted the need for urban incentives to promote the construction of nearly zero-consumption buildings and the importance of increasing incentives for sustainable development.
According to Kakoullis, “We need urban incentives to encourage the construction of energy-efficient buildings and sustainable development in Cyprus”.
Moreover, the event emphasised the importance of leveraging the tech industry to propel the nation’s economic growth.
Urban planning was identified as a crucial aspect, with the aim of constructing densely populated yet livable cities.
The establishment of accelerators and incubators was also seen as vital to support the growth of startups in Cyprus.
However, beyond infrastructure, the upskilling of citizens was identified as paramount for the sustainability of international business in Cyprus.
Constantinos Petrides, the former Minister of Finance, said that “the upskilling of citizens is paramount for the sustainability of international business in Cyprus”. He also stressed the strategic importance of diversifying economic growth models.
Konstantin Zapoleansky of Zubr Capital, meanwhile, praised the island nation’s conducive economic atmosphere, highlighting its success as a free market economy.
Mirroring this sentiment, he stated, “Cyprus has a conducive economic atmosphere, which has led to its success as a free market economy.”
Mary Harney, Ireland’s former Tánaiste, underscored the need for harmonious relationships between enterprises and the wider community, particularly in sectors like education.
“Harmonious relationships between enterprises and the wider community, especially in sectors like education, are crucial,” she stated.
The TechIsland Summit, renowned for its emphasis on innovation and knowledge exchange, attracted leaders from diverse sectors, providing a highly valuable platform for individuals exploring the potential of Cyprus for their companies.
The event facilitated connections with key figures in the tech ground, establishing fruitful collaborations and fostering a vibrant ecosystem.
However, the rapid growth of the tech community in Cyprus has brought to light the pressing issue of addressing housing needs.
Stakeholders stressed the need for urgent reforms, including the implementation of a master plan, tax incentives for investors, and streamlined planning permit procedures, with speakers describing these measures as imperative and key in helping to stabilise the real estate sector and alleviate the affordability crisis.