South Africa is slipping in the Network Readiness Index (NRI), a trend that should be a cause for concern.
This is one of the findings of the latest World Economic Forum and INSEAD Global IT Readiness Report, sponsored by Cisco.
Over the last six years, the county's NRI scores have trended down, while worldwide scores have been increasing – so South Africa's relative position has deteriorated.
According to the report: "South Africa's position demonstrates the challenge ahead and the need to maintain a dual focus on improving both the country's ICT infrastructure and ecosystem to foster technology adoption."
the pay-off of this, the report states, would be a greater adoption in broadband use.
"South Africa's broadband penetration is very low by any standard," the report adds. "There is a significant gap with respect to countries at similar income levels and a vast gap with respect to 'best practice' countries.
"This concern is heightened by the fact that these gaps do not appear to be narrowing – quite the contrary."
Between 2005 and 2007, South Africa's broadband penetration increased only 0,6%, according to the study, to reach just 0,7% penetration.
By contrast, countries that were already well-positioned increased by about 7% to reach penetrations of 15% to 22%.
"Countries with poor or moderate ICT environments face the prospect of lagging still further behind in their ability to harness the power of networks for competitiveness and social inclusion," the report warns.