Time for Ireland to become total digital economy

8 Jul 2010

Last week, Finland made broadband a legal right. Ireland needs to make similar bold statements.

It was apparent to anybody who read or heard the news last week that Ireland has one foot out of the recession and another still mired in the economic cowpat caused by our unique brand of property lust.

While the 2.7pc GDP performance is largely thanks to the multinational exports from this country, our sliding gross national income on the other hand – indigenous trade – is disappointing. In an analyst note, Davy Stockbrokers’ Rossa White called the Irish economy a ‘two-speed economy’.

Those words came back to me when I learned that Finland – a country where 96pc of the population has internet access and all businesses rely on the internet as a key means to trade – made a very bold statement by passing legislation, allowing broadband access of at least 1Mbps a legal right for all Finns.

Ireland is also a ‘two-speed’ digital economy. On the one hand we are the envy of Europe, its internet capital, when you consider all the internet giants that have set up HQs here – HP, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, eBay, PayPal, Amazon, Zynga and Big Fish Games to name a few.

On the other hand, many of our SMEs are fighting for survival, with late cheque payments the prime culprit. How different would things be if, as in Finland, firms were more tuned into e-commerce and e-payments?

Read more of ‘Time for Ireland to become total digital economy’ at Digital 21.

www.digital21.ie – Digital 21 is a campaign to highlight the imperative of creating an action programme to secure the digital infrastructure and services upon which the success of our economy depends.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years