Electoral campaign: building, not abolishing and other Italy news for this week

15 January 2018 - Italy news for this week

REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

In Rome, with the political parties all short of breath and ideas, some changes seems to be taking place.  

Electoral campaign: building, not abolishing!

The latest polls report an advance of the centre-right, to the detriment of the centre-left which is having a hard time shaping its campaign, while the 5 Star Movement remains essentially stationary. The state of play is very fluid, to be monitored on  a weekly basis, as programmes and candidates are gradually defined and announced, and voting percentages could still shift very significantly. Among the operative words of this first days of campaigning (though not necessarily winning slogans), there's the verb "to abolish". The feeling however is that the voters will expect greater long term vision and plans for a feasible and competitive future which should take into consideration employment, skills, modern infrastructure and light-weight legislation. By way of example we will touch on two of the issues that – among the many – would seem to be of greatest strategic importance:

a) many are claiming that unemployment will peak as a result of technological innovation with robots replacing men, just as machinery took over the repetitive jobs of the human work force in the 19th century. But the digital revolution creates and destroys employment at the same time and it's difficult to predict what the net result will be. The ten professions most sought after by the market right now did not exist up to 10 years ago and 65% of children who entered primary school in 2016 can be expected to have a job for which we cannot currently provide a description. What is certain however is that in the major international reallocation of jobs, employment is likely to grow in those countries that will have invested in digital skills and drop in those that have not adjusted appropriately to face the changes in the production market. In Italy, we are in a half-way house: 29% of its workforce can boast a high level of digital skills, compared to an EU average of 37%.

b) the next government will have to focus on ratifying the agreement with Canada: the free trade agreements are after all the main tool through which we can promote the access of SME's – which represent the backbone of our production system – to foreign markets, thus guaranteeing both their growth and their chance to diversify risk.

It would great if those up for election on March 4 could spend a word on these very central issues. We will keep monitoring the campaign and provide adequate commentary.

Rome too is making moves to become a 'smart' city

Acea is currently entering a partnership with OpenFiber to lay extremely fast fibre optic cable throughout the Italian capital. The works, expected to take five years, will kick off in South Rome next spring.

Rome is rightfully moving towards the future by setting in motion the construction of an ultra-broadband communication network that is expected to  connect 1,200,000 homes and offices within the next five years. The project is included in an agreement signed this week between Acea and Open Fiber for the development of Italy's capital city.

Thanks to an overall investment of 375 million euro (350 million put up by Open Fiber and 25 million by Acea), the project aims to improve the telecommunications systems and connected services for its clients by 2023. The construction will start in the spring and will gradually spread outwards from South Rome (from Laurentina to EUR) to the historic centre (which will exploit existing Acea networks, without the need for further excavation) and finally the rest of the city. The plan – thanks partly to the "Fiber to the home" technology – will enable citizens to take advantage of a connection speed of one gigabyte a second, guaranteeing a connection quality that cannot be matched by current technologies.

The infrastructure will improve services to individual citizens (for private and business uses) but may also be exploited to improve the organisation and monitoring of the city's public services.

The creation of the brand new network should have a considerable impact on employment: over the next 5 years, one thousand people will be working on the construction sites, with peaks of 1,500 during the initial stages.

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