Is Cyprus ‘digitalized’ enough? 

30 March, 2022


While Cyprus has shown significant improvement in most Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) categories, there is still room for improvement.  

Most countries have already embraced digital transformation, investing on processes that enhance a digital culture and vision. This is because of the obvious benefits that digital technologies offer in various different sectors, providing great potential for productivity, economic growth, and society’s well-being. While Cyprus has shown significant improvement in most Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) categories, its overall scores indicate that there is still room for improvement.  

Disappointingly, Cyprus ranked 23rd in the EU on Human Capital, in the 2021 edition of the DESI, which is below the EU average. This means that, compared to other EU Member States, there aren’t enough ICT specialists, particularly female specialists who have even decreased since 2019. However, Cyprus government certainly acknowledges the importance of increasing the interest on digital skills and has already started to take action. For example, Cyprus’ “e-skills Action Plan” aims to integrate digital skills in the educational system as well as to align educational curricula with industry needs. In this way, more ICT professionals will eventually join the workforce while a lifelong learning culture and innovation that requires advanced digital skills is promoted. What is also imperative and taken into consideration is the need for developing the teachers’ digital competence too in order to effectively incorporate digital technologies in the learning process. Finally, various different initiatives for vocational education and training have been promoted as part of Cyprus’ efforts to meet the labour market’s growing demand as well as the requirements of the public administration, enterprises, and society as a whole. 

Cyprus seems to be lacking in Connectivity too, ranking 24th among 27 EU Member States. What is hopeful though is that significant progress has been noted as Cyprus was ranked first, hence well above the EU average, on fast broadband (NGA) and also on the overall fixed broadband take-up (92% against 77%), while it has improved its coverage of Very High Capacity Networks (VHCN). Interestingly, major operators continuously invest in 5G which is why the island scores 67% in the 5G readiness indicator, which means that the target for awarding 5G spectrum, harmonised at EU level, will definitely be achieved. However, the country is still considered very expensive and is well below the EU average in price ranking. Cyprus authorities acknowledge the importance of broadband services; thus, they are in the process of expanding the VHCH through EU funding in order to facilitate digitally excluded rural and suburban areas. At the same time, we are investing in chief socio-economic drivers, such as schools, hospitals, business centres, ports, and airports, that will be connected to symmetric gigabit speeds. What is also noteworthy is that Cyprus authorities make important progress on deploying fibre networks so that to eliminate latency issues and deliver higher and more reliable connectivity. 

Although the island ranks 20th in the EU as far as the Integration of Digital Technology in Business Activities is concerned, progress has been noted. Specifically, local enterprises focus on the use of social media, exceeding the EU average of 23%. The Ministry of Energy has also implemented an incentive plan to promote digital technologies to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in order to enhance businesses’ digital identity. The Deputy Ministry of Research, Innovation, and Digital Policy (DMRID) has announced that that Digital Strategy for Cyprus 2019-2030 has been adopted in order to accelerate the country’s digital transformation, as per EU’s report. Specifically, this strategy focuses on economic growth and productivity through the digital transformation of both the public and the private sector, focusing on maximising the use of renewable energy sources and green products. At the same time, the government plans to implement AI systems and solutions as well as to develop a legal framework for this, augment data infrastructure, and build international partnerships. 

What is really positive is that Cyprus scores above the EU average in the Digital Public Services (19th). Nonetheless, the government continues to encourage the digital transformation of the public sector (e-government) through various schemes, including a cross-border recognition of national eIDs and e-signatures. The DMRID is also planning to implement a new model for end-to-end quality digital services, named Digital Services Factory, in order to develop micro-services that will facilitate user experience. Also, Cyprus is about to follow a “cloud native/cloud-first” policy approach for a more efficient manner of running government IT systems. The importance of a single source of data for both people and companies is recognised and for this reason the Civil Registry Department has committed to boost government digital architecture. Finally, Cyprus is also investing in e-health, promoting the digitalisation of healthcare infrastructure and equipment, upgrading its e-health services, and developing better and more effective digital platforms that are based on EU standards. 

Overall, the digital transformation of a country has great impact on its stability as it has the power to diversify economies, enhance the job market, transform agriculture, protect the ecosystem, and significantly improve health and education.  

NetU, being the leader IT solutions provider in Cyprus, can ensure the achievement of any digital transformation goal. For assistance on your company’s digital transformation journey, you can contact our experienced team and let us guide you through the most appropriate solutions for your business.