Cyprus ranks 24th out of 28 EU countries as per the 2020 edition of DESI (Digital Economy and Society Index) published by the European Commission on Thursday.
The annual Digital Economy and Society Index measures the progress of EU Member States in their steps towards a digital economy and society, on the basis of Eurostat data as well as specialised studies and collection methods. The DESI 2020 reports are based on 2019 data.
The report uses indicators such as broadband connectivity, digital skills, use of the internet, digitisation of businesses, digital public services, emerging technologies, cyber security, the ICT sector and its R&D spending and Member States’ use of Horizon 2020 funds.
“This year’s DESI shows that there is progress in all Member States and all key areas measured in the index. This becomes all the more important in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, which has demonstrated how essential digital technologies have become, by allowing work to continue, monitoring the spread of the virus, or accelerating the search for cures and vaccines,” the Commission said in an announcement.
Finland, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands are the leaders in overall digital performance in the EU. Malta, Ireland and Estonia are following right after. The International Digital Economy and Society Index (I-DESI) shows that the best performing EU countries are also worldwide leaders.
Based on data prior to the pandemic, the report says that Cyprus has improved its scores on all DESI dimensions, although it still scores below the EU average. Cyprus has made the most progress in connectivity and use of the internet, it was added.
Cyprus ranks above the EU average on mobile broadband take-up but well below the EU average on the take-up of fast broadband. Almost an eighth of Cypriots have never used the internet, and half lack basic digital skills.
In addition, despite the growing demand in the labour market, the supply of ICT specialists in Cyprus is still below the EU average.
The report also mentions that Cyprus has taken a large number of targeted measures in digital to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.
It said that initiatives to minimise contagion and to support e-health solutions for patients and healthcare service providers include among others a dedicated call centre (1420), interactive voice response and text messaging for any movement of citizens. Additionally, it was mentioned that Cyprus has launched a data register for tracking confirmed COVID-19 cases (COVID-19 platform), a location tracker of citizens/suspected cases (COVTRACKER) and a platform illustrating the spread of the virus (WEBGIS COVID-19).
In the area of education, various online activities were developed to facilitate the provision of the best possible education to students of all levels. At the same time, supportive educational materials have been uploaded to the “Ministry of Education and Culture” and individual school webpages, for all students of all grades.
Digitisation of the public administration is also being accelerated, it was added, enabling citizens to use their e-banking credentials to engage with e-government services. Tele-working has also been promoted for civil servants through the use of services supporting remote access and teleconferencing.
However, it was emphasised that levels of basic digital skills in Cyprus remain low compared to the EU average and that Cyprus has a relatively weak performance in the digitisation of businesses and in digital public services.