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Connectivity key to socio-economic growth

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Countries that continue to invest in ICT infrastructure, applications and services as well as promoting ICT workforce skills and use will be better able to cope with the effects of global recession and boost their socio-economic growth. This is one of the key findings in the Connectivity Scorecard 2011.

Among innovation-driven economies, Sweden retained its top spot despite the US closing last year’s gap.
The annual global study, which analyses ‘useful connectivity’ in 50 countries, is commissioned by Nokia Siemens Networks and authored by Professor Leonard Waverman, Dean of Haskayne School of Business of the University of Calgary in conjunction with the consulting firms, Berkeley Research Group and Communicea. It defines ‘useful connectivity’ as a combination of infrastructure, complementary skills, software and informed use that allows ICT to be a key driver of productivity and socio-economic growth.
“Despite global economic shocks, the knowledge economy is growing in power. While many advanced countries are forging ahead in terms of infrastructure and their use of ICT, the real connectivity gaps are in the developing world with the exception of strong growth in mobile telephony,” says Professor Waverman. “One thing, which is clear is that developing countries must make ICT more affordable, stimulate its adoption and overcome barriers to its use to remain relevant and competitive.”
Kim Jones, connectivity scorecard program manager at Nokia Siemens Networks, adds: “By commissioning the Connectivity Scorecard, we aim to highlight the pivotal role of information and communications technology in driving productivity and sustainable socio-economic growth. In its fourth year, the study reiterates that broadband infrastructure deployments only translate into faster economic growth, when there is complementary investment in skills as well as in relevant services and applications.”
While the US remained a strong performer in this year’s Scorecard, it failed to capture the top position from Sweden by only a very narrow margin. Moreover, though Korea and Japan performed well in this category, their rankings fell because business investment and use of ICT failed to match the levels achieved in Northern Europe and US.
The Nordic countries Sweden, Norway and Denmark along with the Netherlands, continued to lead the innovation-driven economies and ranked among the top five. However, Finland, fell three places to the ninth spot, edged out by UK, Canada and Australia, which performed relatively better. Conversely, southern and eastern European countries trailed behind the leading economies in all aspects of ICT as tracked by the Scorecard. Portugal, Italy, Hungary, Poland and Greece were disappointingly placed among the bottom five in this group.
Malaysia maintained its lead among the 25 resource and efficiency-driven economies for the fourth consecutive year. While Russia, Turkey and countries in Latin America performed favorably, South Africa fell seven places to the ninth rank. India and China continued to trail behind the smaller, richer economies. However, China climbed three places to 14 whereas India was only ranked 21 out of 25 countries. Apart from a few strong performances, most of the countries in this group scored poorly according to the latest data used in this year’s study.
“This year’s Scorecard includes a broader range of indicators to capture new forms of ICT use such as cloud computing, business mobile data services, and ICT investments in healthcare and education. The weighting methodology has also been updated extensively,” says Kalyan Dasgupta, principal of the Berkeley Research Group. “While the overall impact of the indicators was modest for most innovation-driven economies, the new data caused an increased dispersion between the best and worst resource and efficiency-driven economies.”
South Africa ranked number nine in the list of resource & efficiency-driven economies, with a score of 4,68, behind Ukraine and Mexico but ahead of Colombia and Thailand.