Obinna Chima

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has ranked Nigeria 119th out of 139 economies in the overall ranking of its Global Information Technology Report (GITR).
The WEF disclosed this in its GITR Report 2016 released yesterday.
According to the WEF, the report is its first major competitiveness research report this year.

The GITR measures countries’ success or otherwise in creating the conditions necessary for a transition to a digitalised economy and society.

According to the report, although Nigeria did not move overall in the rankings, staying in 119th position, the country recorded lots of movement in sub-pillars of the index.
For example, it disclosed that Nigeria recorded six-spot move up in Readiness (to 117th) and a ten-spot move down in Impacts (to 114th).

The Networked Readiness Index (NRI) measures, on a scale from one (worst) to seven (best), the performance of 139 economies in leveraging information and communications technologies to boost competitiveness, innovation and well-being

“The improvement in readiness is to a large extent thanks to Nigeria reaching full mobile coverage this year; broadband prices have also fallen slightly, although they remain high. The political and regulatory environment are perceived to be improving, while at the same time the business and innovation environment are perceived as deteriorating.

“Government usage and engagement is perceived to have dropped significantly over the course of the last year, yet this may change under the new government that came to power in 2015. Overall, conditions for ICT impacts seem to have deteriorated: both economic and social impacts record a decline. A policy priority with far-reaching benefits in other areas should be to address the country’s skills gap (134th),” it stated.

The NRI also sees several sub-Saharan African countries among the top upward movers, including South Africa (65th, up 10), Ethiopia (120th, up 10) and Côte d’Ivoire (106th, up 9).
Leadership, in terms of digital adoption, according to the report, come from different groups of stakeholders.

While it showed that efforts were very much government-driven in Ethiopia and Côte d’Ivoire, it pointed out that the business sector is providing the most momentum in South Africa. The largest barriers to tackle for Côte d’Ivoire will be infrastructure and affordability; reversing the trend of a deteriorating business and innovation environment for South Africa; and boosting individual usage and skills for Ethiopia, the report stated.

Overall, the 2016 edition of the NRI found Singapore as the highest-placed country in the world when it comes to networked readiness. Finland, which topped the ranking in 2014, remained in second place for a second year in a row, followed by Sweden (third), Norway (4th) and the United States (fifth), which climbed two places. Making up the rest of the top 10 were the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg and Japan.

While the upper echelons of the NRI continued to reflect a strong correlation between networked readiness and per capita income, roughly 75 per cent of the countries included in this year’s index showed a score improvement in 2016. However, convergence both at the global and regional level remains elusive, with four regions – Eurasia, Emerging Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan (MENAP) group, and sub-Saharan Africa – having widened the gap between the most and least networked-ready since 2012.

Elsewhere in the NRI, of the large emerging markets, Russia remained unchanged at 41st position. China came next, moving up three places to 59th. South Africa improves markedly, climbing 10 places to 65th, while Brazil partially recovers from a previous downward trend to 72nd this year and India drops two places to 91st.

According to the WEF, in addition to providing insights into countries’ performance in the unfolding digital revolution, the report shows how much innovation is digital; also that paents are declining as a measure of innovative capacity; that the ICT infrastructure gap remains a chronic challenge and is getting wider; and social impact needs new momentum.

“The digital economy is an essential part of the architecture of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. In order for digital technology to continue contributing economic and social impact, societies need to anticipate its effects on markets and to ensure a fair deal for workers in digitized market environments. New models of governance will be key in this,” Head of the Centre for the Global Agenda, Member of the Managing Board, WEF, Geneva, Richard Samans said.

Cross-border data flows drive innovation and growth,” Vice President of Government Affairs, Cisco, Pastora Valero, said.

“The countries and companies innovating most prominently know that it is the free flow of ideas and information, which leads to improvements in processes and products. Initiatives to foster the free flow of data are crucial to supporting the global nature of the data economy.”