If Cyprus is to attract the big users of telecommunications like data hosting or hi-tech financial services trading, and if it is to meet the challenge of deep-pocketed new players like Google and Microsoft, it needs to attract more foreign investment.
Hellas Sat’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Christodoulos Protopapas, believes considerably more foreign investment can be attracted.
“Until now, Cyprus has failed to become a true hub because the country was not able to attract telecommunication investments–to be able to provide services such as data room, disaster recovery sites in the region and cloud computing,” he said.
“Data rooms especially would provide services to the digital economy, such as e-commerce and credit cards.”
Citing the example of Malta, he notes that Malta is acting as a hub for cloud services and credit card clearing using huge data rooms.
“Malta’s state-owned telecoms company took the strategic decision to invest … for the interest of the country,” he said.
“Right now we have companies registered in Cyprus that are taxed in Cyprus, but use Malta for telecommunications because of lower internet cost. It is the technology as well.”
Cablenet’s Chief Commercial Officer Periklis Theodoridis says attitudes need to change.
“With Cyprus being a business services hub, it is crucial for the main telcos (telecoms companies) to keep up with cutting-edge technology and introduce a new mentality, geared towards innovation in order to open the market for more current and sophisticated tech solutions,” he said.
“There is definitely room for further development and growth in the sector. Telcos and the information, communication and technology (ICT) sector in general are catalysts for increasing productivity and economic growth in all sectors of the economy.”
Since the recovery of the Cyprus economy seems to be on track, the conditions are right for further investment in new areas of technology and value-added services.
“There is also a lot of room for cooperation and/or even mergers in the sectors, due to the large number of operators and the small size of the market. These healthy, revived financial business plans will go a long way in attracting multinational telecoms companies to grasp such investment opportunities,” Theodoridis added.
In January 2016 Cablenet attracted its own foreign investment from Malta’s GO, which raised its stake in Cablenet to 51%. GO’s new shareholder is Tunisie Telecom.
“Cablenet will definitely be benefited from belonging to a larger group within which there are a number of synergies. The main immediate advantage is the increased negotiation power when it comes to equipment and prospective suppliers,” said Theodoridis.
MTN Cyprus is, of course, a foreign investor in its own right, being an integral part of one of the largest global telecommunications groups.
“MTN currently operates in 22 different countries, services over 230 million customers worldwide and, therefore, has access to global knowledge built from operating in many countries, developed and developing,” said Chronopoulos.
“At the same time, MTN Cyprus has been at the forefront of innovation, ensuring the best available products and services to its customers.”
PrimeTel is also keenly aware of the need for foreign investment.
“Over the last years, PrimeTel has been actively promoting Cyprus as a central business gateway in the Eastern Mediterranean region,” said PrimeTel’s Chief Commercial Officer, Theodosis Theodosiou.
“We have made significant investments in our independent and reliable network, incorporating the latest technology and required certifications to ensure infrastructure is in place to attract and satisfy the needs of the most demanding multinational companies.”
PrimeTel has already established wholesale partnerships with over 700 telecoms players worldwide, which also helps to enhance the country’s profile internationally.
“More can, of course, be done at the national level to further encourage investment in the country and promote Cyprus’ competitive advantages: our unique geographical position, attractive tax regime and EU membership status,” he said.