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World's top 20 network ready nations

Last updated on: April 14, 2011 08:19 IST

World's top 20 network ready nations

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The last decade has seen information and communication technologies (ICT) dramatically transforming the world, enabling innovation and productivity increases, connecting people and communities, and improving standards of living and opportunities across the globe.

The Global Information Technology Report (GITR) 2010 2011 features the latest results of the Networked Readiness Index, offering an overview of the current state of ICT readiness in the world.

This year's coverage includes a record number of 138 economies from both the developing and developed world.

The GITR study has been published by the World Economic Forum in partnership with INSEAD.

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India
Rank: 48
Score: 4.03

Globally India lost some ground and is down five places at 48th.

Among its Asia-Pacific peers, India is down five positions at 8th. It lost ground on most indicators and delivered an uneven performance.

India's placement is dragged down by its poor marks in most education-related variables included in the NRI, and more generally by the poor quality of its soft and hard infrastructures (81st).

On the other hand, notwithstanding widespread red tape and distortive taxes, the market environment is assessed rather positively at 41st, thanks to a sophisticated financial market, well-developed clusters, and widespread availability of new technologies.

Also competition and low telephony costs are a boost to India's readiness (33rd).

The country ranks an impressive 21st for its level of individual readiness and 33rd for that of businesses. Government readiness is still high (47th), but ICT seems to have become less of a priority since last year.

While Internet access remains limited, mobile telephony has been growing exponentially as a result of strong demand, increased purchasing power, and also fierce competition and innovation that helped to improve network coverage and drive prices down.

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Image: Harish, 11, a school boy uses a laptop provided under the One Laptop Per Child project.
Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters
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China
Rank: 36
Score: 4.35

China consolidates its position in the global rankings at 36th, after years of vibrant progression.

It is by far the country that leverages ICT the most among the four BRICs, leading India, Brazil, and Russia. Since 2006, China has leapfrogged 23 positions and features among the 10 most dynamic countries worldwide.

Yet, over the years, the country has failed to improve significantly in its environment component (57th), most notably its market environment (71st).

Starting a business remains timeconsuming and burdensome; corporate taxation is among the highest in the world (120th); and freedom of the press, though improving, is still limited (99th).

Also, while Chinese businesses are relatively quick at adopting new technologies and have developed a taste for innovation (21st), the latest technologies are not generally available in the country (93rd).

Internet and mobile telephony are growing at breakneck pace. China added about a hundred million mobile
subscribers between 2008 and 2009. Roughly half of its 1.4 billion population are now equipped with a mobile
phone.

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Image: An employee arranges discarded computers at a newly opened electronic waste recycling factory in Wuhan.
Photographs: Reuters
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Sweden
Rank: 1
Score: 5.60

The composition of the top 10 is fairly stable compared with last year. Eight of the top 10 countries were
already members of the club a year ago.

For the second year in a row, Sweden tops the NRI thanks to an outstanding performance across the board.

The country ranks 1st in 12 of the 71 indicators composing the NRI and within the top 10 in a further 35.

Sweden offers one of the best climates for technological adoption and innovation. Penetration of new technologies is among the densest in the world, with over 90 per cent of the population using the Internet on a regular basis.

Beyond usage, a number of new indicators included in the NRI this year reveal the impact ICT is having on the Swedish economy and society at large.

In Sweden more than anywhere else, ICT improves access to basic services and gives rise to new organisational models as well as new business models, products, and services.

A true knowledge-based economy, Sweden boasts the 4th highest number of PCT patent applications per million population.

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Image: Participants take part in the LAN-party Dreamhack Summer at the Elmia Fair in Jonkoping, Sweden.
Photographs: Mikael Fritzon/Reuters
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Singapore
Rank: 2
Score: 5.59

The runner-up for the second year in a row, Singapore outperforms its Nordic rivals on several dimensions of the NRI.

Singapore boasts of the most conducive political and regulatory environment in the world, thanks to its efficient and transparent administration and business-friendly policies.

It also leads the readiness component for the fifth consecutive year owing to the unparalleled zeal with which the government promotes ICT, the country's excellent educational system, and its businesses' prowess in R&D and
staff training.

In total, Singapore features in the top 10 of all pillars but one, infrastructure environment, where it ranks a still-excellent 12th.

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Image: A tour boat travels up Singapore River past the skyscrapers of the financial district.
Photographs: Tim Chong/Reuters
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Finland
Rank: 3
Score: 5.43

Finland moves up three positions and completes the NRI podium. Finland's performance is consistently outstanding.

The country features in the top 10 of teh eight pillars; the only area of relative weakness is the government
usage pillar, where Finland ranks 24th.

Conducive market and regulatory environments, as well as excellent soft and hard infrastructures, constitute a very fertile ground.

Businesses are aggressive at harnessing and pioneering new technologies.

As a result, the country ranks 3rd for the number of PCT patent applications per million population.

ICT readiness is remarkable within the population (3rd) thanks mainly to the country's excellent educational fundamentals.

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Image: Finland.

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Switzerland
Rank: 4
Score: 5.33

For the second year in a row, Switzerland ranks 4th overall.

The country offers one of the most favorable environments in the world for innovation and new technologies, with a world-class infrastructure (3rd), a business-friendly environment (2nd), and an efficient political and regulatory framework (6th).

Its level of business readiness is second to none thanks to intense collaboration with academia (2nd) and heavy R&D spending (2nd).

As a result, Switzerland has become one of the world's most prolific innovators.

On a per capita basis, it ranks 2nd for the number of international patent applications filed through the PCT.

Over 20 per cent of its exports are made up of high-tech products (10th).

By contrast, ICT does not seem to be as much of a priority in the government's competitiveness agenda.

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Image: Switzerland.

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United States
Rank: 5
Score: 5.33

After dropping two ranks in the last edition, the United States retains its 5th overall place despite losing ground on a number of individual indicators.

Remarkably enough, the country features in the top 20 of all nine NRI pillars.

The United States does best in the usage related categories, where it ranks 5th.

US businesses boast among the highest levels of ICT readiness (6th) and usage (3rd).

Its academic excellence contributes a great deal to the outstanding innovative capacity of the economy and more generally to the ICT readiness of the population.

Some of the leading universities are among the largest innovators in the country, along with the big corporations. In addition, collaboration between academia and businesses is the most extensive in the world.

The United States receives excellent marks for ICT usage by the government (4th).

In particular, the country ranks 2nd for the quality of the government's Internet services and 6th for the quality of interaction between the government and citizens using new technologies (e-participation).

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Image: Capitol Hill, Washington DC, USA.

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Taiwan
Rank: 6
Score: 5.3

In 6th position, Taiwan makes a remarkable entry into the top 10.

It is an international innovation powerhouse. Its patent office is one of the world's busiest - in 2009 alone, it processed over 78,000 patent applications. That represents a record 3,392 applications per million population.

As with most of the top-ranked countries in the Index, the government has placed ICT at the heart of its competitiveness agenda.

Taiwan ranks 5th in the government readiness pillar and 2nd in the government usage pillar, and represents an inspiring success story of a resource-poor economy turned into a major high-tech global player in the space of a few decades.

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Image: Taipei, Taiwan.

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Denmark
Rank: 7
Score: 5.29

Former long-standing best-performer Denmark drops to 7th position as a result of slightly lower scores across the board.

Yet its performance remains consistently strong.

Indeed, Denmark's lowest rank among the nine NRI pillars is a still very positive 16th in the government readiness pillar.

The country's showing rests on outstanding levels of preparation and use of ICT by all national stakeholders.

Environmental factors are also very favorable at 11th overall, with an even contribution of market, regulatory, and infrastructure environments.

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Image: Denmark.

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Canada
Rank: 8
Score: 5.21

Canada (8th) slips one position, essentially because of its lower marks in the usage component of the Index.

Nevertheless it displays a strong showing, mainly driven by a very ICT-conducive environment (5th) and high levels of individual readiness (6th) and government usage (5th).

Individual and business usage are weaker at 23rd and 22nd, respectively: comparatively low penetration rates for mobile telephony remains a notable problem for the country.

On a similar note, Canadian businesses appear less prompt than their southern neighbours to harness new technologies or to produce and export innovative products in the international markets.

The country ranks 20th for PCT patent applications per million population (80.2) and only 9.2 per cent of its goods exports are high-tech products.

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Norway
Rank: 9
Score: 5.21

At 9th, Norway is the fourth Nordic in the top 10.

Up one place, the country's performance is virtually unchanged since last year, with small movements in the rankings attributable to variations in the performance of other countries.

Norway continues to boast one of the most conducive environments for innovation and ICT development.

The area presenting the most room for improvement is the readiness component.

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Image: Oslo, Norway.

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Republic of Korea
Rank: 10
Score: 5.19

Up five positions, Korea re-enters the top 10 for the first time since the 2007-08 edition when it was 9th.

Korea's performance exhibits a peculiar pattern.

It tops the ICT usage component, but trails behind other members of the top 10 by a wide margin for the quality of its market environment (53rd).

The regulatory framework is also problematic (41st), with very low marks for the effectiveness of law-making bodies (131st) and the efficiency of the legal system to challenge regulations (86th), among other dimensions.

These results stand at odds with the country's outstanding performance in terms of usage, which earns Korea the top spot in this category.

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Image: Seoul, Korea.

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The Netherlands
Rank: 11
Score: 5.19

Europe continues to display remarkable levels of ICT readiness, with 11 regional economies featuring among the top 20 of the world's best performers.

In the Netherlands, fewer than 25 per cent of households have no broadband connection, but in the EU overall, on average, close to 40 per cent of households do not.

The most important reasons not to subscribe to broadband are little need, lack of adequate skills to use it, too high subscription prices, and insufficient availability.

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Image: The Netherlands.

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Hong Kong
Rank: 12
Score: 5.19

After a brief stint in the top 10, and in spite of its consistent and very strong performance, Hong Kong falls back to 12th place.

The territory obtains the top mark in the market environment pillar.

In particular, it boasts of one of the world's most developed financial systems (5th) and doing business is made easy by its notably moderate level of taxation and low burden of government regulation.

In addition, it ranks second only to Singapore in the individual readiness pillar, thanks to the quality of its education and the affordability of ICT usage costs.

The government of Hong Kong is actively promoting and using ICT in its daily activities and in providing basic services to its citizens.

On a more negative note, Hong Kong is not as successful as other economies in the region at generating innovation.

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Image: Hong Kong.

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Germany
Rank: 13
Score: 5.14

Europe continues to display remarkable levels of ICT readiness, with 11 regional economies featuring among the top 20 of the world's best performers.

Germany and France, which together account for 36 per cent of the EU broadband market saw an increase of 2 percentage points in fixed broadband subscribers.

Hence it appears that there is still some potential for growth even in countries with relatively high penetration.

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Image: Berlin, Germany.

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Luxembourg
Rank: 14
Score: 5.14

The Netherlands and Denmark continue to top the league, followed by Sweden and Luxembourg, along with a group of four non-EU countries - Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Korea.

On average, the European Union is catching up with the United States in terms of uptake.

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Image: Luxembourg.

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United Kingdom
Rank: 15
Score: 5.12

In the United Kingdom, BT (British Telecom) plans to invest up to pound 2.5 billion in fiber broadband covering two-thirds of premises until 2015.

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Image: London Bridge, United Kingdom.

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Iceland
Rank: 16
Score: 5.07

The Nordic countries are still among the most successful in the world in fully integrating new technologies in their competitiveness strategies and using them as a crucial lever for long-term growth.

They all display a very innovation-friendly environment, with transparent and conducive regulations and top-class
educational and research systems working closely with the industry, together with a strong innovation culture
society-wise.

Moreover, a consistent focus on innovation and ICT diffusion in the government agenda over the years has resulted in remarkably high ICT penetration rates and in the emergence of global players in hightech and innovative products.

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Image: Iceland.

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Australia
Rank: 17
Score: 5.06

Australia's performance is fairly stable at 17th overall, with a score unchanged from last year.

The country's notable competitive advantage is the quality of the general environment (13th), in particular the political and regulatory framework (7th).

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Image: Sydney Opera House, Australia.

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New Zealand
Rank 18
Score: 5.03

New Zealand's information and communication technologies industry includes areas as diverse as wireless infrastructure, health IT, digital content, payments, geospatial, telecommunications and agricultural technology.

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Image: The sheep building, Tirau, Waikato, New Zealand.

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Japan
Rank: 19
Score: 4.95

Japan gains two places from last year and positions itself at 19th, with an overall performance very much in line with previous years.

The readiness dimension of the Index (38th) remains its weakest aspect, partly because of the high access costs to ICT even when taking into account purchasing power differences.

On a more positive note, Japan posts a steady improvement in its ICT usage (from 14th to 8th).

The sophisticated business sector appears to be using ICT particularly effectively (4th) in its operations and transactions.

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Image: Himeji Castle, Japan.

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France
Rank: 20
Score: 4.92

ICT encompasses electronics, IT, telecommunications, software, hardware and services.

Of these industries, France employs 56,000 people in electronic components equipment, 50,000 in communications equipment and 135,000 in telecommunication services.

The software development and IT services sector employs around 350,000 people in France, with fields of excellence including CAD/CAM software, integrated business packages as well as special effects and video games.

In total within the industry, 45,000 workers are employed for research and development.


Image: Louvre, Paris, France.

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