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Germany leads in e-commerce

10 February 2004

MUNICH – Germany is Europe’s leader in terms of e-commerce, but overall the country has only a middling position in information technology (IT) and telecommunications use, a top industry executive said Tuesday.

Willi Berchtold, president of the IT, telecommunications and media association BITKOM, said in Munich that in particular, German schools were lagging behind in training youngsters in the use of computers.

“A society of knowledge cannot permit itself such shortcomings without endangering its own future and affluence,” Berchtold warned.

He said that on average, German schools provided only one computer per 14 pupils, making the schools a virtually “computer-free zone”.

Berchtold said this was a possible contributing factor to the lack of qualified personnel in the field of IT. At the end of 2003, some 30 percent of IT companies complained they did not have enough skilled personnel.

“We have to see to it that young people become enthusiastic again about technology,” the BITKOM president said.

He did note that Germany is tops in e-commerce, with industry data showing that turnover in 2003 went beyond EUR 138 billion or 30 percent of the European market.

Of that volume, EUR 122.7 billion was accounted for by companies doing e-business with each other, Berchtold reported.

Berchtold said that at the moment, half of the German population had access to the internet, with the number of internet users set to rise to 50 million by the year 2006. But this would give Germany only a middle-range position compared with other European countries, particularly in Scandinavia.

The situation was similar regarding mobile phones and broadband IT access, he said. Despite some strong growth in these areas, “other countries have been faster”, Berchtold said.

His comments came as part of a series of industry situation reports ahead of the giant office technology, computers and telecom fair CeBIT in Hanover set for March 18-24.


Subject: German news