DUBLIN 8.45 AM – 21ST February, 2013 – “Digital technology developments have the power to contribute strongly to economic recovery and new employment opportunities for Ireland,” said An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny T.D., addressing a UPC Ireland discussion forum on Jobs, The Economy and Ireland’s Digital Future.

Hosted by UPC Ireland CEO, Dana Strong, this morning’s discussion forum follows from the recent independent report commissioned by UPC on Ireland’s Digital Future, researched and written by Gerard O’Neill, Chairman of Amárach Research.

An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny T.D. said:
“The digital economy has a major role to play in our country’s economic recovery, with Ireland on its way to becoming the digital capital of Europe.   We welcome the arrival of global digital brands into Ireland and the contribution they make to our economy and society.  The ongoing challenge for Government is to prevent a two-tier digital economy from developing and to ensure that Irish small and medium sized businesses are encouraged to embrace the opportunities new digital technologies can offer.

“I want to see all Irish businesses live up to their potential and have the ability to compete globally.  For the Government’s part, we will work to create a supportive and flexible enterprise environment so that Ireland’s digital economy can continue to go from strength to strength.”

The UPC Report on Ireland’s Digital Future projects a doubling in the Irish internet economy to €11.3 billion annually by 2016 if current trends are maintained.   This will be underpinned by 2.6m Irish online shoppers spending €5.7 Bn (7% of all consumer spending) in 2016, compared to €3.7 Bn in 2012.

While the internet economy currently accounts for roughly 3% of Irish GDP, this is set to double to 6% over the next three years.

Using the Booz & Company Digitisation Index, the report estimates that this can translate into employment of 18,000 or more if Irish society and industry can keep pace with the digitisation levels of our EU neighbours and particularly our UK and Scandinavian counterparts.

UPC Ireland CEO, Dana Strong said:
“The prize from greater digital uptake will be obtained for Ireland if we can use Irish based innovation, entrepreneurship and productivity to create enhanced revenues and jobs for industry and particularly for small and medium businesses with export potential”.

“Broadband is now universally available in Ireland further to the Government’s investment in the National and Rural Broadband Schemes. This means the country has already achieved the first of the EU’s Digital Agenda Targets.
“The private sector too has played a major role and has over the past 5 years invested €2.5 billion into Ireland’s telecommunications infrastructure.  UPC alone has invested €500 million in its network. All this investment supports tens of thousands of jobs in Ireland’s €54 billion of foreign direct investment projects.

“The usage, efficiency and affordability of digital services will greatly improve in the next few years, creating new opportunities for growth.   More internet usage can mean more jobs particularly if Irish businesses seize the opportunity to do business online.  Doing business in the digital world has boosted business sentiment with 55% of those surveyed reporting that they intend to hire new staff over the next two years.  Small businesses will have a bright future here if they capitalise on existing demand for their products and services by using the web to reach out to potential customers.
“International evidence shows that SMEs with a strong web presence grow more quickly, export more and create more jobs than those who have a minimal web presence.  That’s where Ireland’s future jobs growth can be concentrated.  The Government’s National Broadband Plan and forthcoming National Digital Strategy will form key pillars of these developments.”

Ends.
 
For The UPC Report on Ireland’s Digital future, see www.upc.ie/digitalindex
Follow UPC news on Twitter:  @UPC_IE_PR

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