In its annual Global Information Technology Report 2013, the World Economic Forum warned that countries such as South Africa are at risk of damaging their economic growth if they fail to tend to the currently problems of broadband access.
On the list of 144 countries, in terms of broadband access South Africa ranked only 70th, with fellow BROCS nations Russia is coming in at 55th, China ranks 58th, followed by Brazil (60th), India (68th), and then South Africa.
“The BRICS economies, led by Russia continue to lag behind in the rankings. The report suggests that their rapid economic growth may be in jeopardy unless the right investments are made in ICT, skills and innovation,” the WEF wrote.
In the global audit, sub-Saharan Africa is not faring much better either, as the report suggested that a number of regions are not doing enough to boost connectivity. “Latin America, the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa still suffer from a serious lag despite infrastructure improvements, an expansion of coverage and a push into e-government.”
The cost of technology was also cited as a factor for the slow growth in Africa. “In sub-Saharan Africa, costly access to technology, a low skills base and unfavourable business conditions are among the chief obstacles,” the report said.
In terms of the economies that are best placed to benefit from new information and communication technologies (ICTs), Finland has toppled Sweden from the top spot.
“The Networked Readiness Index, calculated by the World Economic Forum, and INSEAD, ranks 144 economies based on their capacity to exploit the opportunities offered by the digital age. This capacity is determined by the quality of the regulatory, business and innovation environments, the degree of preparedness, the actual usage of ICTs, as well as the societal and economic impacts of ICTs,” the report said.
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor