ATHENS, Greece (AP) – Google on Thursday announced plans to expand its cloud services infrastructure to Greece, pledging to create nearly 20,000 jobs through direct investment and partnerships by the end of the decade.
The move follows Microsoft’s plans, announced two years ago, to invest $1 billion to build data centers near Athens, as well as pledges from other tech giants, including Cisco and Amazon, to build facilities in Greece.
“We can dramatically increase and accelerate innovation and digital transformation in Greece,” Adaire Fox-Martin, president of Google Cloud International, told reporters in Athens.
She also announced plans to set up Google-funded research centers for technical sustainability and artificial intelligence in two regional Greek cities, adding that the total investments are expected to contribute 2.2 billion euros to the Greek economy by 2030.
Google officials did not provide details on the company’s planned investments to build cloud infrastructure in Greece or a timeline for the project.
Greece has bet heavily on boosting its once-sluggish tech sector since exiting successive international bailouts four years ago, hoping to diversify an economy heavily dependent on tourism and attract thousands of university graduates in the sector who worked abroad during the financial crisis to have.
At 11.4% in July, Greece has the highest unemployment rate in the European Union after Spain.
Several government agencies, including the Department of Health and the Hospital Administration, are expected to integrate use of Google’s cloud services once the new infrastructure is available, company officials said.
Hundreds of government administrative services — including drug prescriptions from public hospitals and applications for divorce by consent — have been made available online during the pandemic.
The Google investment “is the latest in a string of important business improvements,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said at the company’s event.
“It didn’t happen by itself: we had to modernize the institutional and regulatory framework and change people’s mentality,” he said. “And we had to contend with the beast of bureaucracy.”