Microsoft plans to build three data centers in greater Athens, Greece, with an investment of up to $1bn. The news follows nine months of negotiations between Microsoft and the Greek Government for an agreement that also includes digital-skills training programs for 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. “It's not something we do often and it's not something that we do lightly.”
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. Unemployment in June climbed to 18.3% from 16.4% at the start of the year.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the country’s heavy reliance on tourism. 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. Microsoft currently has data centres in 26 countries, including seven in the European Union.