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Greece Goes Digital: 150 Million Transactions in First Half of 2021

Greece Digital
Digital traffic and online transactions are skyrocketing in Greece. Credit: Stathis Cataropoulos/Greek Reporter

There has been a rapid increase of digital traffic and online transactions in Greece so far in 2021, including public access to government online services, the country’s Digital Governance Minister said on Tuesday.

Speaking at Thessaloniki Helexpo Forum, Kyriakos Pierrakakis noted that some 150 million digital transactions were registered in the first half of 2021, compared to 8.8 million in 2018, 34 million in 2019 and 94 million in 2020.

By year’s end, he added, it is certain that a figure of 300 million will have been surpassed.

Covid-19 lockdown accelerated digital transformation of Greece

“The government’s strategy for facilitating a more efficient practical relationship between citizens and the state was coded around a specific initiative, that of the gov.gr portal,” noted Pierrakakis. “The governmental hub of digital services for citizens began with a mere 500 services, and it now features over 1,300 different ones,” the minister.

The coronavirus pandemic in Greece acted as an accelerator for the digital transformation of the country as several services became digitalized quickly and efficiently.

Greece, as soon as the first lockdown was imposed last spring, launched an online platform offering services such as medical prescriptions, residence certificates, recognition of university degrees and so on. At the same time, ministerial cabinet meetings were held through online meeting platforms, while distance learning and teleworking was expanding among the student and working communities.

During the second lockdown, in November 2021, Greece made impressive progress in distance learning, as all classes — from nursery schools to universities — were held online.

Pierrakakis also referred to gov.gr being the state’s “new face,” announcing that his ministry’s priority now is the further digitization and simplification of services, as well as providing new services via gov.gr.

Digital transformation Bible

Another key aspect mentioned by the minister is the implementation of projects through the government’s Digital Transformation Bible project, a roadmap consisting of some 450 projects backed by 6.4 billion euros of EU Recovery Fund money, to speed up the digitization of the public and private sectors and boost Greece’s digital readiness.

Some of these projects have been put up for bid, he noted, while most will be opened up for bidding imminently.

The “Bible” outlines the guiding principles, the strategic axes and the horizontal and vertical interventions that will lead to the digital transformation of the Greek society and economy. Through collaborations with stakeholders from the public and private sector as well as with the research & academic community and the civil society, the “Bible” describes not only the objectives but also the implementation measures of the digital transformation strategy.

The strategy sets seven objectives:

  • Safe, fast, and reliable access to the Internet for all
  • A digital state offering better digital services to the citizens for all life events
  • Development of digital skills for all citizens
  • Facilitate the transformation to digital enterprise
  • Support and strengthening of digital innovation
  • Making productive use of public administration data
  • Incorporating digital technologies to all economic sectors

Thessaloniki leading digital transformation

Thessaloniki is leading the way toward Greece’s future as the digital hub of southeastern Europe, US Consul General at Thessaloniki Elizabeth K. Lee said recently.

Major U.S. companies like Cisco, Deloitte, and Pfizer have made “the strategic decision to grow their footprint in Thessaloniki so they can tap into the city’s highly educated young workforce and the Balkan market of 30 million people,” Lee highlighted, in line with using the case of the northern city as a jumping point to discuss the cities of the future as innovation ecosystems.

“As Ambassador Pyatt has said, American business leaders do not longer ask ‘Where is Thessaloniki?’ but rather, ‘where else can we invest?’,” Lee pointed out.

Related: Best Cities for Digital Nomads in Greece

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