In Greece, the pandemic is accelerating the transition to digital

In Greece, the black sheep of the scanning in Europe, the public administration has accelerated its transition to digital at the time of telework and social distancing, because of the pandemic of the novel coronavirus, according to experts.

With the containment measures, “the countries lagging behind in their transformation to digital found themselves facing a greater challenge”, said to AFP Kyriakos Pierrakakis, Greek minister of Governance digital. In Greece, “the physical presence was a habit, the activities to a remote exception” and the country had to get to the page.

It was a campaign promise of the conservative Prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, in which the pandemic has speeded up the execution.

Because Greece was due 2019 among the last european countries in terms of the “performance digital”. The last Index DESI (Digital Economy and Society Index) published by the european Commission, the place 25th out of the 27 countries of the EU.

The numerical abilities were among the lowest, nearly 20% of the working population without the skills or access to the internet, when the EU average was only 10% in 2019, according to the Eurostat data.

Prior to the pandemic, “the digital delay in Greece was a constant, a legacy of socio-economic within the european Union,” observed Nikos Smyrnaios, master of conference in information Sciences and communication at the University of Toulouse.

If “the economic crisis and the memoranda were imposed on Greece by an acceleration of the digitization of the public service, until then in an archaic state, it is made +to the Greek+, under stress and in a disorderly way,” said Mr. Smyrnaios to the AFP.

Also, the Greek administration has sought to meet the challenge in full pandemic in a country little affected by the coronavirus, with 166 deaths.

As early as 21 march, when schools and businesses had to close, a common platform bringing together all the public services has been put in place, allowing easy access to citizens.

Praised by the OECD

The government has “allowed citizens to sign their documents without having to move in to the authorities” and “provided the opportunity for vulnerable people to avoid going out”, stressed the minister Pierrakakis.

During the confinement period strictly, between 23 march and 4 may, the authorities have cloud certifications of output. An initiative welcomed by the Organization of economic cooperation and development (OECD), because it helped take the load off “the citizens and businesses of unnecessary burdens”.

To maintain the attractiveness of Greece with the uncertainty of the next tourist season, the ministry of Tourism has also invested digital, launching the platform #GreeceFromHome, to discover the history, the culture and the landscapes of the country.

Overall, the expert Nikos Smyrnaios has noted “an increase in the time spent on the internet during this period.”

“The Greek company was more than ready for this change,” she said Diomidis Spinellis, director of the department of Science and Technology Management at the University of Economy of Athens.

Not even “the revolution”

“The pressure linked to the crisis of the Covid-19 has accelerated the transition to digital,” added the analyst, hoping that “this dynamic is not curbed when we’ll be out of the emergency”.

For the time being, the ministry of Governance and the digital has not provided balance sheet.

But many criticize a network is still insufficient, a lack of equipment or training.

Diamanto Zafiraki, an official attached to the ministry of Economy, spoke of “a network less good operating systems unsuitable software that will not open. Everything takes me a lot more time and energy”.

For the Federation of education in Greece (DOE), “the educational continuity could not be held by the initiative of teachers, the ministry has not provided neither instructions nor hardware during this period”, said to AFP Thanasis Goumas, secretary of the federation of teachers ‘ unions.

Certainly, “there is an effort on the part of the government in the digitalization, but it should not be considered as a revolution,” says Dimitris Tsingos, director of Starttech Ventures, an incubator for start-up, “there are still a lot of work”.

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