Cyprus is banking on the EU to throw it a €1.2 bln lifeline so it can exit the pandemic aftershocks with a rebuilt economy that harnesses the environment and digital technology.
We know this transition will happen because every smart-thinking government minister tells us that our lives will change for the better.
It will be a new era of digital bliss where enhanced AI and algorithms simplify every transaction in a transformed society.
Nothing will be too much trouble; if you want a government document or form, just download the app and let technology do its thing.
There is no hanging on the end of a phone line waiting for human interaction from an official trying to avoid contact, or when they do answer, the response is ungratifying.
The internet will be our friend with mega-fast broadband taking us to the next level where we can control our environment with a smartphone.
I’m not convinced that Cyprus will embrace digital transition as we would like it to.
The entire government and public ‘service’ structure are designed to hinder, obfuscate, and delay with alarming regularity.
Getting anything done is time-consuming, emersed in last-century behaviour and difficult to navigate.
Businesses still approach contactless payments as if they have conquered Mars and returned to tell the news.
And if you are brave enough, please visit a government website, as the last time they were updated was somewhere in the mid-90s.
Some adventurous state organisations have taken the revolutionary step of joining Twitter, but they should be advised it’s no use posting once every three years, or not at all.
Facebook is another social media stalwart used by public figures to get their message across, but the metaverse of fake news has lost its shine for younger generations.
So, I’m unsure where this digital transformation will take us when the government is light years away from switching to smart technology.
Broadband speeds also need to improve and become more affordable.
It took COVID-19 to shake up the education system to seek digital solutions and for the retail sector to discover that home delivery or online shopping was actually a thing and not an American ghost story.
Moreover, the pandemic also caught schools napping, and exposed educators were way behind the curve when the clarion call for tech-savvy teachers came.
Our headlong rush into a smarter future is leaving others behind.
An older generation still likes to pay in cash, doesn’t own a smartphone, and has no truck with the internet.
Are we creating a sub-class of the digital poor, those without online skills or who choose to live off the grid away from social media and smart apps?
How kindly is the digital transition going to treat them?
And what do we do with those who refuse to have a mobile phone or bank account?
If we all migrate online, what happens when the Cyberwars come, and our systems are hacked, crashing the internet.
Is our data up in the clouds safe? Is our money better protected than sticking it under the mattress?
In embracing the digital revolution, we become more dependent on the cyber universe, where everything is interconnected.
Cyprus will be no safer in cyberspace than on earth, with hostile states choosing to infiltrate online systems to create mayhem.
Some are suspicious of 5G technology, believing it to be part of a conspiracy to control us, a twisted logic that spurs hatred against the COVID vaccine.
Nevertheless, a smarter future has to be a better one for the planet, with government spending over the next five years focusing on cleaner and renewable energy sources.
Again, Cyprus has come late to the party despite all that solar energy to exploit.
The country has to do a better job insulating its homes, switching from petrol-fired power generation, going electric and raising awareness about environmental pollution.
Essentially, the EU is bribing countries to invest in green technology and digital progress to make economies more robust.
A shared future of less pollution, giving the planet breathing space, will help mitigate devastating climate chaos.
The Mediterranean is already overheating, accompanied by other extreme weather phenomena that make the future scarily unpredictable.
Combating the climate crisis requires a joined-up effort from every country, but already self-interest – among fossil fuel producers/users – is creeping in with those who have most to lose, ignoring the signs.