ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Google announced plans Thursday to expand its cloud services infrastructure to Greece, promising to create nearly 20,000 jobs through direct investment and partnerships by the end of the decade.
The move follows plans by Microsoft, announced two years ago, to invest $1 billion to create data centers near Athens, as well as pledges by other tech giants including Cisco and Amazon to set up 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 create Google-funded research centers for tech sustainability and artificial intelligence in two regional Greek cities, adding that the total investments were expected to add 2.2 billion euros to the Greek economy by 2030.
Google officials did not give details of the company’s planned investment to create the cloud infrastructure in Greece or a timeline of the project.
Greece has bet heavily on boosting its once-sluggish tech sector since exiting successive international bailout programs four years ago, hoping to diversify an economy heavily reliant on tourism and lure back thousands of university graduates in the sector who worked abroad during the financial crisis.
At 11.4% in July, Greece has the highest unemployment rate in the European Union after Spain.
Several government agencies, including the health ministry and hospital administration, are expected to integrate the use of Google’s cloud services after the new infrastructure is available, company officials said.
Hundreds of government-run administrative services — including drug prescriptions from public hospitals and applications for uncontested divorce — were made available online during the pandemic.
The Google investment “is the latest in a chain of major business improvements,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said at the company event.
“This didn’t just happen on its own: We had to modernize the institutional and regulatory framework and change people’s mindsets,” he said. “And we had to take on the beast of bureaucracy.”