“From 1995 till 2000 the Development of e-content has Doubled Every Year”

What e-content means in Cyprus:

A: The meaning of e-content in Cyprus is known by its member categories and projects that have expanded rapidly since the introduction of the Internet in the country in 1995. Most of the e-content material is on-line covering information related to company information, travelling, entertainment and doing business on-line.

What is the current status of e-content in your country, including national e-content development across all the sectors of the industry?

With 6 ISPs and over 150 companies on the island offering web development services, ambient variety of content is available on the net. Most of the material however is business oriented. The exception being the tourist and travel content sites available which start from full-blown e-travel sites to culture sites. Most of the sites are in English with a small number in English and Greek and an even smaller number in Greek only.

The e-content development in Cyprus is driven by the market usage. The primary use of e-content varies with higher usage being the search of information and goods on line followed by downloading and playing games and music. Type of usage for business is increasing with the current use of e-banking facilities reaching in 2003 to 6% of total population.

Citizens are now more aware about e-commerce reaching 98% of the Internet population in Cyprus.

More people have visited e-commerce sites and more people are using the Internet nowadays to perform transactions on-line.

Every club, society, organization has a web site that allows new and old members to communicate and exchange information. However, mobile is now taking over with a number of mobile subscribers moving to palm-phone gadgets.

Which e-content area is best developed in your country?

The majority of e-content development in Cyprus is concentrated around e-business sites. More than 50% of all the companies over 5 employees in Cyprus have their own web page that is used for either providing marketing information, providing information related to their products and services, selling or collaborating with customers, partners, suppliers and employees. Four of the five major banks on the island have on-line banking facilities. The first bank that introduced e-b anking in Cyprus back in 2000, now has over 75,000 subscribers with a considerable amount of their transactions now occurring on-line.

More than 80% of the companies have access to the Internet. The highest usage is about finding market information. Internet Banking usage by companies in Cyprus stands at 32%, making e-business awareness, despite the securities related issues.

More than 22% of the companies in Cyprus have an e-commerce site and the use of e-commerce has spread to B2B and integration of systems with Suppliers.

The Government of Cyprus is committed to the e-Europe Action plan. The action plan, which is followed by all European countries, has among other objectives to accelerate the putting in place of the basic building blocks for the Information Society. Directives of the plan are specified for e-government, e-health, e-learnging and e-inclussion.

Based on this plan, the Government has recently introduced the Customs and Excise Tax system on-line called “Theseas” which will be used by all commercial entities in Cyprus. Users will include importers, exporters, bonded warehouses, forward and clearing agents, and generally any entity dealing with customs in the country. This system will further foster the development of e-government and usage of e-content in Cyprus.

Which sectors in your country are the leaders in e-content development?

The private sector is more active at this moment in the area of e-content development with the Banking institutions making currently the larger spending. This is followed by utilities and in particularly telecom and electricity.

The government is slowly catching up and by the end of 2005, expects to have the Social Insurance, Candidate Placements, Taxations and health care from projects that already have been initiated.

How would you describe the progress of the development of e-content in your country?

From the Internet introduction in 1995 till 2000 the development of e-content has doubled every year.The increase has been slower in years 2001-2003, being approximately 25% every year. This is actually very understandable and expected as the market is becoming saturated and all key players are on line. What is measured currently is how many of the original e-content players are either revamping or actually re-developing their e-content sites from scratch based on new concepts, vision and technology.

Please list the major initiatives which have influenced and spurred the development of e-content in your country.

History has shown that the e-content in Cyprus was initiated by the introduction of Internet in 1995. Since then a number of factors have effected the development of e-content. Important milestones have been the number of ISPs, the hype of Internet Banking in 2000, the reduction of Internet costs and the introduction of government systems in 2002.

Additional factors have been the e-commerce sites that were initiated in 1999 and the new flow of e-business sites late 2002. The latter one are more user friendly, faster, safer, have much more information and more interactivity.

What have been the major bottlenecks in the development of e-content in your country?

Major constrains in the development of e-content in Cyprus has been the monopolies of the telecommunications and e-payment sector.

Another major constraint has been the lack of infrastructure by most of the companies. The slow ROI, particularly the e-business area and the large number of small companies available in Cyprus. It is estimated that approximately 75% of the 55,000 active companies operating in Cyprus are one man businesses.

In developed countries ICT has become part of daily life and e-content development is primarily left to the initiatives of individuals or organizations. On the other hand, in less developed countries, the development of e-content is largely dependent on ICT infrastructure. Please give a detailed analysis of the situation in your country.

ICT infrastructure is well above average. Currently there are more fixed lines in Cyprus than the population, covering from dial-up, Broadboand (ADSL), leased lines to frame relay. More than 30% of the connection to the Internet in Cyprus today is via ADSL lines. Demand for fixed lines (any servers) and mobile connectivity has never reached the availability of these services, for at least the last five years. Access cost has been decreasing tremendously in the last two years with ADSL costing as low as US$ 60 per month for unlimited usage.

How would you describe the ICT scenario in your country? Please describe it in terms of infrastructure, penetration, acceptance and policies.

Penetration in Cyprus is very high. More than 60% of the citizens have a personal computer. In addition 94% of the companies over five employees have at least one computer with a third of the companies having one PC per employee. Communication using e-mail has taken over conventional methods such as the fax.

Current annual ICT expenditure in Cyprus stands at approximately US$ 180 million with services, software and hardware taking approximately one third each.’

Penetration of software application is very high with at least every single company that has a computer using some form of accounting or inventory control system. Larger companies are implementing expensive ERP solutions with all the major players well established in Cyprus. New MIS systems such as Logistics, SCM, CRM and Data warehouse solutions have emerged since early 2000 and are currently being used by large corporations and utilities.

Research and development on Information Society Technologies (IST) in Cyprus was more than 10 million Euro in 2002 estimated to double by the end of 2003.

How do you see the future of e-content development in your country?

I can see no official or corporate effort towards developing e-content. As an individual, I hope I can make some difference through media and the Internet Society to push for the development of e-content.

As an expert in your country, what would be the five most important pillars of e-content development?

Accession of Cyprus in the EU: Many EU countries have shown interest in expanding and investing in Cyprus taking advantage of the geographic position in Cyprus. The expected economic boost will require the further development of e-content;

The implementation of the e-commerce strategy and legal framework by the Government: This is improve trust for the usage of e-content

The role out of the e-government plan by the Governmen: More citizens and companies will be required;

Further liberalization of the Telecommunication: market that will bring additional competition and cheaper Internet;

Liberalization of the e-payment infrastructure of the country: Currently there is only one e-payment infrastructure in Cyprus with slow plans in introducing connectivity and security to the payment on-line.

Please explain which is the most preferred medium for e-content development: Print, TV, the Internet, Radio, Mobile/Wireless or a combination of some of these?


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