Is PH ICT-ready? It’s 76th in global rank

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Is PH ICT-ready? It’s 76th in global rank
The latest World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report shows the widening gap between the best and worst performing economies

CLIMB. The Philippines climbs 2 notches to place 76th out of 143 countries in 2015’s Networked Readiness Index (NRI), the World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report reveals Wednesday, April 15.

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines climbed 2 notches to place 76th out of 143 countries in 2015’s Networked Readiness Index (NRI), the World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report said Wednesday, April 15.

The Philippines ranked 78th in 2014 and 86th in 2013.

The countries are ranked in terms of their capacity to prepare for, use, and leverage Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

The Philippines ranked 85th in terms of readiness sub-index, covering infrastructure, affordability, and skills. It ranked 84th for environment sub-index that include political and regulatory and business and innovation.

The country ranked 74th in terms of usage covering individual, business, and government usage of ICT. It is up to 62nd place in terms of impact sub-index, covering economic and social impact.

The report cited that greater connectivity has also led to political empowerment, citing the 2001 mass protests in the country organized via short message service (SMS) texts, and the ability for protesters to quickly gather support and demonstrate is credited with toppling then-president Joseph Estrada’s government.

Telecommunications operators in emerging markets are crucial to enabling the monetization of content in the early stages of evolution, example of which is the launch of Facebook Zero promotions by operators such as Globe Philippines, which enables people to experience Internet content at no charge.

Another example is the post-Super Typhoon Haiyan experience that hit the Philippines in 2013, wherein analytics helped aid workers prioritize assistance levels and supply distribution.

The International Organization for Migration incorporated social media data with geographic and real-time data to better understand the unique needs of each region hit by the typhoon. As a result, they could pinpoint what locations were hardest hit and what supplies were needed most, learning, for example, that hospitals in the badly damaged coastal city of Guiuan were running out of diesel for their backup generators.

“Big data analytics made relief efforts more accurate and responsive, which in turn made the country more resilient in recovering from the disaster, reduced suffering, and saved numerous lives,” the report cited.

Digital poverty holds back global growth

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The 2015 edition of the NRI ranked Singapore as the top country in the world when it comes to leveraging ICTs for social and economic impact.

The city state replaces Finland, which had been number one since 2013, and is joined in the top 10 by another Asian country, Japan, which climbs an impressive 6 places year-on-year to 10th position.

Occupying the third slot behind Finland is Sweden. The highest-placed G7 economy is the United States (7th), followed by the United Kingdom (8th).

Germany, the world’s fourth-largest economy, ranked 13th, down one place on last year.

Data from the report’s Networked Readiness Index suggested that the gap between the best and worst performing economies is widening. Those in the top 10% have seen twice the level of improvement since 2012 as those in the bottom 10%.

“This demonstrates the scale of the challenge facing developing and emerging nations as they seek to develop the infrastructure, institutions, and skills needed to reap the full benefits of ICTs, as only 39% of the global population enjoys access to the Internet despite the fact that more than half now owns a mobile phone,” the report cited.

Progress by the world’s larger emerging markets toward networked readiness has been largely disappointing, the report noted.

The Russian Federation is the highest-placed BRICS nation, climbing 9 places in 2015 to 41st. It is joined in the top half of the ranking by China, which remains at 62. All other members of the group have declined, with South Africa coming next (75th, down 5), followed by Brazil (84th, down 15) and India (89th, down 6).

The example of the BRICS is not unique, as many other countries that have improved their ranking over the last decade or so are now facing stagnation or regression, said Bruno Lanvin, executive director of INSEAD’s European Competitiveness Initiative (IECI) and Global Indices projects and co-editor of the report.

“The report shows that the digital divide across nations is increasing and this is of great concern, given the relentless pace of technological development. Less developed nations risk being left further behind and concrete actions are needed urgently to address this,” said Soumitra Dutta, Anne and Elmer Lindseth Dean at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University and co-editor of the report.

Armenia (58th) and Georgia (60th) are among the most improved nations since 2012. Outside of the Caucasus, the United Arab Emirates (23rd), El Salvador (80th), Macedonia FYR (47th), Mauritius (45th), and Latvia (33rd) all improved markedly during the same period.

Early-stage improvements are being witnessed in some of the world’s most fragile and least developed countries as well. Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mauritius, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda have all fully liberalized their ICT markets, while Kenya and Tanzania are beginning to see the benefits of similar reforms.

Broadband as income multiplier

While mobile telephones may be becoming ubiquitous around the world, the report cautioned though that the ICT revolution will not be carried over to voice or SMS.

“Without better access to affordable Internet, a huge proportion of the global population will continue to live in digital poverty, missing out on the enormous social and economic benefits that the ICTs represent,” said Thierry Geiger, senior economist, World Economic Forum and co-editor of the report.

The report also noted that government leadership in the creation of a good regulatory and business environment with competitive ICT markets is a fundamental requirement for all countries.

“Broadband is an income multiplier,” said Dr. Robert Pepper, vice president of global technology policy, Cisco. “To ensure that ICT benefits everyone, broadband adoption needs to increase over all, but especially for low income populations. Unconnected countries and people are being left behind.”

But while government action is necessary to address digital divides, efforts must also be made to encourage people to participate in the digital economy, argues Bahjat El-Darwiche of  Partner, Strategy &, and leader of the firm’s Communications, Media and Technology practice in the Middle East. (READ: Sachet effect and the digital economy)

“Emerging markets need to ensure a sustainable supply of local and relevant digital content if they are to give more people reasons to go online,” El-Darwiche said

The report is the result of a partnership between the World Economic Forum, INSEAD and the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. It is supported by Cisco and Strategy&. –

Keyboard with Philippine map image from Shutterstock

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