South Africa shares the top spot rank for the Middle East & Africa region in government policy vision criteria alongside Israel, according to an e-readiness survey conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value and the Economist Intelligence Unit.

The e-readiness ranking, now in its eighth year of publication, evaluates the technological, economic, political and social assets of 69 countries and their cumulative impact on respective information economies.
This demonstrates the “state of play” of a country’s ICT infrastructure and the ability of its consumers, businesses and governments to use ICT to their benefit.
"This ranking confirms our conviction that, in spite of a limited skills base, we have a policy environment that is ground-breaking and competes well in the world. This is why our government’s focus is now on investing in strategic ICT infrastructure as well as increasing access, uptake and usage of ICTs by all of government." says Dr Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, Minister of Communications.
“Government Policy and vision is a revised and partially new category, its intention is to demonstrate the effect government policy has on determining the country’s overall e-readiness,” says Mark Harris, General Country Manager of IBM South Africa.
The role of governments in laying the structural and policy framework for an Internet-ready economy is essential today as business and society adapt to ongoing globalisation. “This groundwork, as reflected in this year’s rankings, provides a critical path for individuals and businesses to apply these new digital channels in innovative applications—spurring further economic development,” adds Harris.
A point of interest which arose from this study is the estimation of broadband affordability. For the first time it was found that on the whole there is not a massive gap between developed and developing markets.
One other emerging digital phenomenon, although not explicitly measured in this model is the explosion of social networking, allowing millions to subscribe to services such as YouTube, MySpace and Second Life. The perception remains that this is currently more prevalent in mature markets; however emerging markets are increasingly using simpler applications such as Instant Messaging.
In addition to the government policy and vision criteria, South Africa ranked second in legal environment and consumer business adoption, third behind Israel and the United Arab Emirates in connectivity and technology infrastructure, business environment and fifth in the social and environmental criteria.
The global ranking places South Africa 35th, and is led by Denmark and the US which retain their number one and two spots in the rankings (with Sweden also tied for second), but Hong Kong (fourth), Singapore (sixth), South Korea (16th), Taiwan (17th) and Japan (18th) have experienced a boost in 2007 in both scores and ranks. This is due in no small part to their governments' vision and commitment in pushing digital development, and to continued progress in adoption of broadband and other advanced infrastructure.
 “Technology leadership in the world is becoming a fast-moving target,” observes Robin Bew, Editorial Director of the Economist Intelligence Unit. “Those at the top of today’s league table cannot be complacent—changing technologies, and attitudes to technology usage, mean that hard-won advantages can be quickly eroded by nimble-footed rivals.”
Since 2000, the Economist Intelligence Unit has published an annual e-readiness ranking of the world’s largest economies, using a model developed together with the IBM Institute for Business Value. A country’s “e-readiness” is a measure of its e-business environment, a collection of factors that indicate how amenable a market is to Internet-based opportunities. Increasingly, it is also about how individuals and businesses consume digital goods and services.