SA jumps in global ICT ranking

2016-07-06 15:34 - Gareth van Zyl, Fin24
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Johannesburg - South Africa has jumped 10 places in the World Economic Forum (WEF) global information and communication technology rankings from 75th to 65th.

The WEF this week has released its 2016 Networked Readiness Index, which assesses the “factors, policies and institutions that enable a country to fully leverage information and communication technologies for increased competitiveness and well-being”.

The ranking measures 139 countries and studies factors such as the political and regulatory environment, infrastructure and digital content, usage of ICT as well as economic and social impacts to calculate the overall NRI ranking.

And South Africa’s advance in the 2016 ranking comes after it slipped five places between 2014 and 2016 to 75th.

South Africa has made advances in the likes of bandwidth infrastructure, with the country ranking 18 in the world. Other results are more mixed, said the WEF.

“South Africa’s digital transformation is mostly business driven, as the country notably performs best in business usage (32nd), followed by individual usage (77th), followed by government usage (105th),” said the WEF in its note on South Africa.

However, dark clouds still hover over the country’s technology space, noted the WEF.

“Although the country is perceived by South African business executives to be performing relatively well in terms of its regulatory and political environment, its innovation and business environment is rated significantly worse and, in addition, shows strong signs of deterioration—especially regarding technology and venture capital availability, government procurement of the latest technologies, and days as well as procedures to start a business,” said the WEF.

“It would be a pity if these developments were to offset investments in infrastructure that have significantly increased international Internet bandwidth and put the country among the top 20 globally on this particular indicator,” said the organisation.

The WEF further said that mobile tariffs have more than halved in South Africa and that “broadband tariffs dropped slightly, reducing barriers to adoption also in terms of affordability”.

According to the ranking, South Africa still ranks behind nearby African counterpart Mauritius (49).

The top ranked country in the index, though, is Singapore, followed by Finland and Sweden for the period 2016.

“Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, Israel, Singapore, the Netherlands and the United States are leading the world when it comes to generating economic impact from investments in information and communications technologies (ICT),” said the WEF.

“On average, this group of high-achieving economies at the pinnacle of the report’s Networked Readiness Index (NRI) economic impact pillar scores 33% higher than other advanced economies and 100% more than emerging and developing economies,” added the WEF.