Microsoft has announced plans to build three data centres in greater Athens, providing investment of up to one billion US dollars to the Greek economy.
The announcement by the US tech giant and Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis follows nine months of confidential negotiations for an agreement that also includes digital-skills training programs for some 100,000 government and private sector workers as well as educators and students.
“This significant investment is a reflection of our confidence in the Greek economy, in the Greek people and the Greek government,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said at a ceremony held in the Acropolis Museum, facing the ancient site in central Athens.
Greece recently emerged from a years-long financial crisis but its economy has been hard hit by the pandemic, suffering a 15.2% drop in output on the year in the second quarter, with unemployment climbing to 18.3% in June from 16.4% at the start of the year.
The Mitsotakis government says it wants to shift the balance of the Greek economy during its recovery, developing the energy, tech, and defense sectors, hoping to lure back tens of thousands of graduates who left during the crisis.
“The creation of a data center upgrades a country as an investment destination … Greece has the sun and now it’s getting a cloud.”
Microsoft currently has data centres in 26 countries, including seven in the European Union.
Microsoft officials said the timetable for the development of the data center in Greece was still being worked out, but added that the process in other countries typically took about two years.
Greece, officials said, it would comply with Microsoft’s pledge to run all its data centers worldwide on renewable energy sources by 2025.