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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Global Technology Report & Network Readiness Index

Wherever I go in any whichever country I hear the buzz - lets invest in education and internet/computing technologies - our future would be prosperous. It makes eminent sense to understand where things stand on soem of these dimensions. European countries and Singapore have surpassed the United States in their ability to exploit information and communication technology, according to a new survey. The United States, which topped the World Economic Forum's "networked readiness index" in 2006, slipped to seventh. The study, largely blamed increased political and corporate interference in the judicial system. The Report is produced by the World Economic Forum in cooperation with INSEAD, the leading international business school, and is sponsored this year by Cisco. The report is jointly edited by Soumitra Dutta of INSEAD, and Irene Mia of the World Economic Forum. As Klaus Shwab points out, policymakers and business leaders recognize the need to create an enabling environment to support the adoption of technologies and spread their benefits across all sectors of society.The importance of networked readiness, especially at the national level, has achieved prominence on the public policy agenda, with the realization that the tools provided by ICT can help countries fulfill their national potential and enable a better quality of life for their citizens.

The index, which measures the range of factors that affect a country's ability to harness information technologies for economic competitiveness and development, also cited the United States' low rate of mobile telephone usage, a lack of government leadership in information technology and the low quality of math and science education. The Report uses the Networked Readiness Index (NRI) to measure the degree of preparation of a nation or community to participate in and benefit from ICT developments. The NRI is composed of three component indexes which assess:
- environment for ICT offered by a country or community
- readiness of the community's key stakeholders (individuals, business and governments)
- usage of ICT among these stakeholders

Thierry Geiger, one of the Forum's economists responsible for the 361-page report, points out that the U.S. market environment remains the best in the world in terms of how easy it is to set up a business, get loans and have access to market capital.
The two emerging giants have interesting rankings here. India is ranked at 44 & China is ranked at 59. Nordic countries - traditionally strong in all surveys conducted by the Geneva-based Forum - dominated the top of the rankings. Denmark edged Sweden for the top spot, while Finland was behind in fourth. Singapore, which topped the poll in 2005, was the top Asian nation in third. Rounding out the top 10 were Switzerland, fifth; Netherlands, sixth; Iceland, eighth; Britain, ninth; and Norway, 10th.The report covered 122 countries, with Chad, Burundi, Angola, Ethiopia and Bangladesh at the bottom. The network readiness index is available here.

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