Erste Group’s latest report has revealed that The Central and Eastern European (CEE) region is close to Western Europe’s level of digitalization.

Although the region fares well in terms of digital infrastructure, lack of digital public services is a major drawback for many countries, the report shows. However, countries can develop eGovernment services by building on their own digital infrastructure.

Although the level of digitalization and online access is almost on par with that of Western Europe, the CEE countries’ average GDP per capita in absolute terms is at the level seen in Western Europe in the mid-1980s and investment in areas requiring a lot of physical capital (such as road infrastructure) is taking much longer.

The report’s authors recommend more financial incentives for developing CEE workers’ digital skills and more investment in ICT solutions by CEE businesses.

When it comes to digitalization, CEE countries have made important progress in catching up with Western Europe. The gap for household internet access between the two regions is only four years and when it comes to mobile broadband access, the gap is only two years.

Furthermore, mainly low online reach into rural areas make contribute to the differences in digitalization between Eastern and Western Europe. When it comes to the urban environment, both regions have an almost identical level of internet and mobile broadband access.

Finally, Erste’s report highlights that there is still room for improvement, especially when it comes to the digitalization of public services. Few CEE countries (with the exception of Slovenia and Slovakia) have taken active steps in developing an eGovernment platform.