Global review: a look at the WEF’s Network Readiness Index 2014

We examine a selection of countries ranked by the World Economic Forum in their Network Readiness Index 2014


Rankings are based on how well each country performs in leveraging information and communication technology to boost competitiveness and well-being

Finland (Rank 1)
The Nordic country continues on from 2013 as the most network-ready in the world, having climbed from third place in 2012. The country ranks highly in all areas, in part thanks to heavy investment in its ICT ecosystem in the mid 1990s. It comes first for readiness to use technology, with skills unmatched by other countries. However, its digital infrastructure, although substantial, is less affordable than in 17 other countries. The economy retains last year’s place at number two for its technology usage, with more than 90 percent of the population internet-literate. Its Nordic neighbours are performing strongly too, with Sweden and Norway in the top five and Denmark and Iceland in the top 20.

US (Rank 7)
Further developments in the US’ technology infrastructure mean it has risen this year from ninth to seventh place. The country has affordable infrastructures, which it leverages well despite its large size, with strong performances in the innovation, readiness, usage and impact categories. Businesses are using ICT well – proving the ninth best in the world – with individual usage lagging behind slightly, in 18th. The country has seen an increase in international internet bandwidth per user and uses big data systems to innovative effect; at the National Centre for Academic Transformation, for example, data mining is used to help students by predicting which ones are more likely to succeed on which courses.

Source: World Economic Forum
Source: World Economic Forum

Hong Kong (Rank 8)
Having hiked up six places this year, Hong Kong gains a prominent place in the top 10. It’s ranked second best in the world for innovation and entrepreneurship, and has strong infrastructure alongside a relatively sturdy environment. It seems the economy is better prepared for technologies than before, with a climb from 19th to 12th in the readiness sub-index. As a result it has improved its scores from 2013 for usage and impact (both economic and social). While government use of technologies ranks in at 24th, business use comes 16th and individual usage leads the way at number 12. Asia is doing well overall, but there is a significant digital divide between advanced economies and the continent’s emerging markets.

UAE (Rank 24)
The state’s drive to advance technologies – putting it in second place for government usage, pipped to the post by Singapore – is reflected in developments in its digital infrastructure and increased usage by individuals and businesses. There is room for improvement in terms of technological innovation with its current spot at 49th. A high proportion (85 percent) of the country’s population are internet users with a computer in their household, and a strong emphasis on business means technologies have significant economic impact. The state sits with Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Panama and Qatar as the countries whose scores are soaring at a faster rate than the average.

Chile (Rank 34)
Seemingly the most digitally in-tune Latin American economy, Chile has climbed up five places since 2013 as a result of improved ICT infrastructure, increased internet usage and more online government services. It ranks 27th in the world for the impacts its technologies have on society, but the country could further develop its offerings if skills could be better cultivated; like other Latin American countries, it comes relatively low down on the list for innovation and suffers from a limited education system. In the readiness index Chile is down by 11 places from 2013 despite a slight increase in score, reflecting a possible struggle to keep up with the rate at which competitors are becoming ever more ready for technology.

Source: World Economic Forum
Source: World Economic Forum

Greece (Rank 74)
Greece has fallen 10 places since last year, although its score is actually higher. Despite an increase in broadband subscriptions and internet users, and efforts to develop its infrastructure, economic and social impacts of technologies remain relatively low, ranked at 91st and 87th respectively. Greece is the victim of limited venture capital which prevents it from creating new products and furthering its potential for technology usage. It ranks badly – 114th out of 148 – for its political and regulatory environment, although for business and innovation environment it takes the 54th spot. Its low ranking compared to Nordic and western European countries is indicative of the digital divide within Europe.

India (Rank 83)
Ranking the lowest out of the BRIC economies, India has fallen 15 places since 2013 in the face of increasing competition from emerging markets such as China (62nd) and Brazil (69th). Its digital infrastructure is ranked the most affordable in the world, but the country needs more of it. Only 68.5 percent of the population have secondary school education and literacy rates are ranked 127th in the world, meaning India’s progress is held back by limited skills. Although placed 41st for government technology usage, individual access is a different story; 69.9 percent own a mobile phone with just 12.6 percent using the internet and only 10.9 percent having access to a personal computer at home.

Cameroon (Rank 131)
Like other west African countries such as Senegal and Gabon, Cameroon is among the lowest in the rankings due to underdeveloped technologies and innovation systems – although there has been an increase in mobile phone usage. The country dropped seven places from 2013 and has fallen slightly in terms of the environment and readiness sub-indices. It has, however, improved a little regarding the economic and social impact of ICT, and remains stable concerning technology usage, with business use ranked 95th. Cameroon and its neighbours need to develop their infrastructure before significant progress can be made, although that is of course dependent on the growth of the economy.