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ATHENS: Greece and Microsoft on Monday announced an investment deal worth up to a billion euros ($1.2 billion) to build cloud storage infrastructure in the country.

The announcement comes as Greece's pro-business government plans to gradually shift the country's notoriously bureaucratic civil service online.

"We are bringing data centres to Greece. We're going to create a new region that will include Greece as well as (neighbouring countries)," Microsoft president Brad Smith told the project launch in Athens.

"This is a new opportunity for every small business in Greece... with cloud services, you pay for what you use, and you pay only when you use it," said Smith, adding companies would no longer need to invest in buying and maintaining servers.

The project foresees three data centres in the greater Athens area. No timeframe was given Monday. Microsoft currently has data centres in Germany, France, the Netherlands and Ireland, and is building more in Poland, Italy and Spain.

The Microsoft agreement also envisages training programmes for 100,000 Greeks, officials said.

Microsoft is also designing an augmented reality website promoting Ancient Olympia, birthplace of the Olympic Games, to be released in 2021.

Through a cellphone application, visitors "will see in 3D the monuments and life in ancient Olympia exactly as it was 2.5 millennia ago," said Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

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