Greece has a developed infrastructure that enables the uninterrupted implementation of most investment activities. Within the framework of holding the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, and in investment in the following years, a number of changes and improvements in a variety of areas—including the infrastructure of Greece—were materialised.
The economic crisis that has intensified since 2010, and continues today, has inevitably reduced available resources. However, through private investor participation, and given Greece’s current restrictive capabilities, investment in strategic projects that facilitate transport, logistics, and telecommunications will continue , so the flow of goods, services, and information is carried out efficiently, promptly, and cost effectively.
During the last decade, the road network has seen substantial improvements. One of the largest infrastructure projects in Europe is the Egnatia Highway, a new East-West highway corridor connecting the port of Igoumenitsa on the Ionian Sea with Alexandroupolis, near the Turkish border.
The PATHE highway system has also been substantially upgraded and connects the southern port of Patras with Athens and Thessaloniki and continues north to the border with FYROM. The third major highway system in Greece is the Ionian Highway that connects Patras with Igoumenitsa.
Within the greater Athens area, the new Attica Highway Ring Road has substantially changed road transport in the capital region and is an important logistics route, connecting the airport with logistics centres, sea ports, and rail stations.
These main arteries are of a high standard and many of Greece’s secondary roads have been constructed and improved to provide business and citizens with the best possible connections.
Greece has 45 airports—15 international state airports, 26 domestic state airports, and 4 municipal airports. Many of these airports, especially on the islands, primarily serve tourists and handle charter flights. In 2001, the Athens International Airport opened and is considered to be one of the best airports in Europe. For a map and list of airports in Greece visit the Hellenic Aviation Authority site at http://www.ypa.gr/
Currently, many of Greece’s airports are undergoing significant infrastructure and facility upgrades, and there are provisions for the construction of new airports.
With hundreds of islands, Greece has many seaports, 12 of which are international. The port of Piraeus is one of the busiest in Europe and is the main cargo port of the country, followed by the ports of Thessaloniki, Patras, and Igoumenitsa. Greece has more than 140 ports that serve passengers and cargo.
Greece’s port infrastructure is being constantly upgraded and improved to meet the needs of cargo shipping, security concerns, and the country’s visitors, that totalled 15.5 million in 2012.
In November 2008, China’s Cosco signed an agreement to run a part of the Port of Piraeus in a 35-year, 4.5 billion-Euro deal that is slated to significantly increase the port’s cargo capacity and efficiency. In addition, this agreement, along with the strategic collaboration between Cosco and Hewlett Packard, will position Piraeus as a leading point of entry for goods from Asia destined for the European market.
The Greek railway system has been placing emphasis on upgrading its infrastructure. The improvement of the rail bed and the laying of new track to improve transport times have been the main priorities.
The rail system is essentially north to south and connects Patra-Athens-Thessaloniki. In recent years travel time between Athens and Thessaloniki has been reduced considerably, from six hours to approximately five.
The suburban railway connecting Athens Airport with the capital of Athens, and Corinth and Kiato, is fast and efficient. In addition, the Athens Metro system, the first in the city, has been extremely successful and has had a major impact on improving urban transport. The Athens Metro is expanding its lines and network by operating new stations in 2013 to meet the mobility needs of the labour force in this major business center. In addition, the construction of a new metro system in Thessaloniki has begun.
The shipping lanes serving Greece’s mainland and islands are, for the most part, highly efficient and transport large quantities of passengers and cargo every year. In addition to passenger and cargo ferries, a large number of high-speed catamarans introduced in recent years have reduced travel times considerably.
Power and Energy
Greece relies on lignite for the majority of its electricity production. In recent years the energy market has been liberalised, providing the private sector with new investment opportunities. In wind and solar, major progress is being made as Greece has committed to a minimum 29% of energy from RES by 2020.
The capacity of Greece to handle increased petroleum and natural gas transportation is transforming the country into an energy hub in Southeast Europe, and surveys for hydrocarbons are progressing rapidly.
As in energy, the liberalisation of the telecommunications market has taken place during the last decade, resulting in a large number of telecom suppliers in landline, cellular, and Internet services. The market is now highly competitive and services are of a high standard.
Cellular phone penetration in Greece is one of the highest in the EU. Since 2007 Greece has been making good progress in adopting digital technologies, and the creation of a nationwide fibre optic network is being promoted. The penetration of broadband in Greece reached 23.8% in 2012, and the increase of broadband penetration in the country during 2012 (2 lines per 100 residents) is higher than the previous year (1.8 lines per 100 residents).
Water and Sewage Systems
As international concerns about climate change mount, Greece has managed to avoid serious problems to date in its water supply. Concerns are greatest on some islands that have limited fresh water resources and must rely on transported water. Innovative desalination projects using RES technologies are currently being planned for implementation.
Almost 100% of households have continuous access to water supply and almost 95% are connected to the sewage system. Relatively new sewage treatment plants serving Athens and Thessaloniki have dramatically improved the water quality in the Saronic Gulf in Athens and the Thermaicos Gulf in Thessaloniki.