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India 44th, Denmark tops in network readiness

Last updated on: March 28, 2007 18:17 IST

For the first time, Denmark tops the rankings of the WEF's Global Information Technology Report 2006-2007's 'Networked Readiness Index,' as a culmination of an upward trend since 2003.

India and China show both a downward trend, with India 4 positions down to 44th and China 9 positions down to 59th. Notwithstanding some specific clusters of ICT excellence in both countries, their performance overall in leveraging ICT for increased development appears to be particularly hindered by weak infrastructure, with a very low level of individual ICT usage for India and of individual and business readiness and usage for China.

Denmark's outstanding levels of networked readiness have to do with the country's excellent regulatory environment, coupled with a clear government leadership and vision in leveraging ICT for growth and promoting ICT penetration and usage.

With record coverage of 122 economies worldwide and published for the sixth consecutive year, The Global Information Technology Report (GITR) has become the world's most respected assessment of the impact of information and communication technology (ICT) on the development process and the competitiveness of nations.

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The Networked Readiness Index (NRI) measures the propensity of countries to leverage the opportunities offered by ICT for development and increased competitiveness. It also establishes a broad international framework mapping out the enabling factors of such capacity.

The report is produced by the World Economic Forum in cooperation with INSEAD, the leading international business school, and is sponsored this year by Cisco.

"Leveraging ICT is increasingly becoming an essential instrument for countries and national stakeholders to ensure continued prosperity for their people. Nordic countries have shown how an early focus on education, innovation and promotion of ICT penetration and diffusion is a winning strategy for increased networked readiness and competitiveness. Denmark, in particular, has benefited from very effective government e-leadership, reflected in early liberalization of the telecommunications sector, a first-rate regulatory framework and large availability of e-government services," said Irene Mia, Senior Economist of the Global Competitiveness Network at the World Economic Forum and co-editor of the Report. (Click here for the entire list)

"In recent years, the world has witnessed the power of ICT in revolutionizing the business and economic landscape and empowering individuals, while fostering social networks and virtual communities. Recognizing the importance of ICT as a driver of growth and prosperity, the World Economic Forum -- jointly with INSEAD since 2002 -- has produced The Global Information Technology Report each year since 2001, assessing the progress of networked readiness in over 100 economies and providing an authoritative instrument for facilitating public-private dialogue, whereby policy-makers, business leaders and other stakeholders can evaluate progress on a continual basis," said Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.

Under the theme, "Connecting to the Networked Economy", The Global Information Technology Report appears at a critical juncture in the evolving role of ICT in the world economy, when access to the global network is increasingly perceived as an important cornerstone for the development of economies and societies. In line with the World Economic Forum's sustained efforts to expand the geographical coverage of the Report, this year seven new countries from diverse regions of the world (mainly Asia and Africa) have been included in the sample.

"It's no longer debatable as to whether or not the global economy will become networked ¨C the vast majority of industries are increasingly adopting networked business processes ¨C and the discussion now focuses not on if but how we get connected to maximize the benefits to business and society," said John Chambers, President and CEO of Cisco.

The Networked Readiness Index examines the preparedness of countries to use ICT effectively on three dimensions: the general business, regulatory and infrastructure environment for ICT; the readiness of the three key stakeholders þu individuals, businesses and governments þu to use and benefit from ICT; and their actual usage of the latest information and communication technology available.

Soumitra Dutta, Chaired Professor of Business and Technology, Dean of External Relations at INSEAD and co-editor of the Report, explained: "The Networked Readiness Index (NRI) provides a snapshot of countries' weaknesses and strengths with regard to ICT development and capacity to leverage the latter for increased competitiveness, thus offering policy-makers and business leaders a neutral platform for discussion and a useful tool in drawing a roadmap towards increased networked readiness." (Click here for the entire 7-minute interview)

Highlights of the Results of the Networked Readiness Index Rankings 2006-2007

Denmark is number one for the first time, moving up 2 positions from last year and reflecting an upward trend dating back to 2003. Denmark has benefited from a clear government ICT vision and early focus on ICT penetration and usage, which has resulted in impressive levels of Internet and PC usage as well as that of e-government and in a very dynamic e-business environment.

A well-developed internal market, together with a continuous emphasis on education and R&D and a talent for pioneering applications and technologies, have laid the basis for the development of a first-league high-tech industry.

The rest of the Nordic countries, except Iceland which loses some ground from last year, follow Denmark's upward trend, with Sweden, Finland and Norway moving up 6, 1 and 3 places, to 2nd, 4th and 10th, respectively.

Nordic countries have consistently featured among the top 10 in the last 6 years, reflecting exceptional levels of networked readiness as well as overall competitiveness. The recipe of Nordic countries for networked and competitive success has to do with a very strong focus on education, which has enabled the establishment and development of highly efficient educational institutions and a culture of innovation; transparent and well-functioning public institutions which have resulted in a business-friendly environment; and a strong readiness by key national stakeholders to adopt the latest technologies.

Singapore moved down one place to 3rd position, maintaining its dominant position for the 5th successive year. Singapore's ICT excellence is built on the country's excellent regulatory and business environment, on the government's early focus on the adoption and diffusion of the latest technologies, and on ICT penetration and its ability to involve the private sector in a common strategy and vision for ICT readiness.

Among the top 20, Switzerland, up 4 ranks to 5th place, registers one of the biggest improvements, after Sweden and the Netherlands, both 6 ranks up from last year. Switzerland's ICT prowess is pushed by its first-class business environment and by effective e-leadership shown by the business sector and, to a lesser extent by the civil society, in ICT usage and innovation.

The United States loses its top position and drops 6 places to 7th, mainly due to relative deterioration of the political and regulatory environment. However, the country maintains its primacy in innovation, driven by one of the world's best tertiary education systems and its high degree of cooperation with the industry as well as by the extremely efficient market environment displayed. The latter has been very conducive to the development and prospering of the ICT sector (in particular, the availability of venture-capital, sophistication of the financial market and the ease to start a business).

Among other countries in Europe, the Netherlands (6), the United Kingdom (9), Germany (16), Austria (17) and Estonia (20) also feature in the top 20. Estonia, in particular, stands out for the impressive progress realized in the space of a decade in networked readiness as well as general competitiveness, driven by an efficient government ICT vision and strategy. Ireland (21) and France (23) are also fully leveraging ICT for development while some other countries, such as Italy (38) and Greece (48) lag behind, although Italy has been following an upward trend for the last two years, with a 4 place improvement over last year.

Countries from Asia and the Pacific continue to do well this year, with Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Australia and Korea occupying 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th and 19th positions, respectively, although Taiwan and Korea are losing some ground from last year (down 6 and 5 positions respectively).

The highest ranking Latin American countries are Chile (31), newly included Barbados (40), Jamaica (45), Mexico (49), Brazil (53), and Costa Rica (56). The rankings for the region show an encouraging upward trend, with large countries such as Mexico, Argentina (63) and Peru (78) gaining several positions. The same tendency is even more marked for small Central American and Caribbean countries, such as Jamaica (45), Costa Rica (56), Dominican Republic (66) and Guatemala (79) which realized impressive improvements. The region's overall improvement can be traced partly to the results of increased emphasis being laid on ICT strategies in recent policy agendas of most countries in the region to reduce the digital divide and increase competitiveness.

Sub-Saharan Africa displays a less positive picture, with all countries, but Nigeria (88), dropping places in the rankings. In particular, the traditional ICT champions in the region are all losing ground, with South Africa, Mauritius and Botswana dropping 10, 6 and 11 places to 47th, 51st and 67th respectively. Although the region has quickly increased its ICT penetration rates in recent years and its markets retain great potential for investors, it has not moved fast enough compared with the rest of the world: a lack of extensive and efficient infrastructure, overregulated business environments and poor governance and education standards prevent sub-Saharan Africa from fully leveraging ICT for increased development.

In the MENA region, Tunisia (35), Morocco (76) and Algeria (80) have all improved their networked readiness from last year while Egypt is down 14 places to 77th. Israel, in 18th position, remains the incontestable leader in the Middle East, with outstanding levels of technological sophistication, innovation and ICT penetration. The Gulf countries, except for Kuwait which is down 8 positions to 54th this year, remain rather stable in comparison to last year, with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) leading the region at 29th.

Indeed, the UAE has been placing a growing emphasis on the role of ICT for development in recent years, with the launch of a number of ICT initiatives to create ICT-related clusters.