Despite efforts in the past decade to improve information and communications technologies (ICT) infrastructure in developing economies, there remains a new digital divide in how countries harness ICT to deliver competitiveness and well-being, according to the 12th edition of The Global Information Technology Report, released today by the World Economic Forum.
Published under the theme, Growth and Jobs in a Hyperconnected World, the Report suggests that national policies in some developing economies are failing to translate ICT investment into tangible benefits in terms of competitiveness, development and employment. This is in addition to the profound digital divide that already exists between advanced and developing economies in access to digital infrastructure and content.
Pakistan continues to lag behind in the rankings. Pakistan’s global ranking in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) got downgraded from 102nd in 2012 to 105th in 2013, according to the report.
Amir Jahangir, Chief Executive Officer of Mishal Pakistan, a partner institute of Global Competitiveness & Benchmarking Network of the World Economic Forum said, “As the other countries are improving rapidly, Pakistan has shown a little change, this a matter of concern. Pakistan is 37 ranks behind India. The big challenge for the next government in Pakistan would be to put more emphasize on ICT environment and regulatory framework. The role of ICT for a sustained economic growth and job creation is crucial to improve Pakistan’s competitiveness. ICT has revolutionized the way businesses are done and the country has not being able to capitalize on this”.
Some of the areas where Pakistan lost its ICT competitiveness are; govt’s procurement of advance technologies, which ranked 109 this year as compared to 91 in 2012. Although Pakistan has improved the fixed broadband Internet tariff substantially by making Pakistan the 68th most competitive broadband provider in the world, individuals using Internet, which depicts affordability of Internet for citizens is shrinking. Pakistan lost 22 points in 2013 and ranks at 120 on individuals using Internet. The report highlights that the gains in broadband affordability are being achieved by cannibalizing the individual Internet users.
Pakistan achieved significant gains in the last decades, when it embraced the mobile technologies and led the region by providing human resources capital and technical knowhow to the global pool of mobile communication providers. However this gain has been greatly diminished due to lack of advancements and inconsistency in decision making to adopt new technologies at the right time. The Importance of ICTs to govt’s vision has deteriorated from 92 to 117 in 2012 and 2013 respectively. Making ICT as one of the least priority areas for the govt. in Pakistan.
On the economic impact pillar, Pakistan failed to show progress on creating impact of ICTs on new organizational models by losing 10 points. Keeping businesses in mostly traditional areas and connecting Pakistan with the global knowledge economies.
Similarly, government’s failure to create social impact through ICT also showcases it’s poor understanding of innovation ecosystem and value creation for the citizens in the digital age. The government failed to create value through ICT use and improving efficiency, where Pakistan lost an alarming 16 points (121 among 144 countries). Not being able to improve any regulations on venture capital availability has also created a bottleneck for an innovation economy in the country. This signifies Pakistan’s lack of correlation between innovation and competiveness with finance, thus further isolating Pakistan from moving towards a knowledge-based economy.
Pakistan also lost 15 points on the E-participation index, where government engages citizens through online services and grievance mechanism, thus resulting in stronger red-tapism slower economic progress.
On the overall political and regulatory environment, the efficiency of legal system in challenging regulations has also deteriorated, where Pakistan is ranked 97 as compared to 79 in 2013 and 2012 respectively. Intellectual property protection has also been neglected and Pakistan lost 13 points by securing 103 on the network readiness index.
Some of the areas where Pakistan has shown improvements are on the business and innovation environment pillar, where the business sector has ensured the availability of latest technologies for ICT competitiveness by improving 10 points and securing 83 rank among 144 countries.
The Report’s Networked Readiness Index (NRI), which measures the capacity of 144 economies to leverage ICT for growth and well-being, finds Finland (1st), Singapore (2nd) and Sweden (3rd) take the top three places. The Netherlands (4th), Norway (5th), Switzerland (6th), the United Kingdom (7th), Denmark (8th), the United States (9th), and Taiwan, China (10th) complete the top 10.
The NRI uses a combination of data from publicly available sources and the results of the Executive Opinion Survey, a comprehensive annual survey conducted by the Forum in collaboration with partner institutes. This Survey of more than 15,000 executives provides insight into areas critical for networked readiness.
World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report can be downloaded by clicking this link.