Sunday, March 29, 2009

WEF report links countries' progress with hi-tech co-ord

Sarfraz Ali

Islamabad, March 26th - The World Economic Forum today released its 8th annual Global Information Technology Report 2009. The Report gauges a country's connectedness in the global environment through its Information and
Communication Technology infrastructure. It compares participating countries on a range of Information and Communication Technology proxies and variables, which are considered to be the key enablers of economic and social progress, growth and productivity. This year's Report has in particular focused on how information and communication technology, and networked readiness have fostered innovation.
The Global Information Technology Report has followed the ICT revolution and evolution over the years. ICT has encouraged transparency in government processes and improved countries' efficiency and services to citizens. This year, Pakistan ranked 98th out of 134 countries, which is indicative of a weak information and communication technology base. It was a drop of nine spots from last year's ranking of 89 out of 127 countries. In order to improve its network connectedness, Pakistan should invest more in ICT infrastructure, related services and more broadly, innovation.
Some of Pakistan's other competitive disadvantages identified by the Report are the absence of adequate competition in the market place (112), unnecessarily long procedures to enforce a contract (119), extremely low expenditure on education (119) and equally low enrollment in tertiary education (114). Significant drops were seen in spending on R&D from 72nd spot to 86th this year, Government prioritization of ICT from 38th to 57th, and a staggering drop in the quality of education system from 85th to 104th.
The Information and Communication Technology Report's rankings are based on the Networked Readiness Index which measures the likelihood that countries will exploit the opportunities offered by Information and Communication Technology services. It tries to comprehend the impact of ICT on the competitiveness of nations. The NRI is a composite of three components; the environment of ICT offered by a country's government; the readiness of governments, businesses and individuals to use ICT; finally, usage of ICT among these three stakeholders. Pakistan ranked 112 in the environment component, 101 in the readiness component and 92 in usage component indicating that although the environment and infrastructure are not properly delivered, but the usage is still pretty good.
According to this year's Global Information Technology Report, Denmark, Sweden, and United States secured the top three ranks respectively, further consolidating the fact that they have the most solid information and communication technology base. Switzerland dropped two spots to 5th, and was replaced by USA in the 3rd rank. Singapore climbed up to the 4th rank from 5th and Iceland climbed up one spot to 7th from 8th. This year, Canada entered the top ten slot ranking 10th, whereas last year it was at 13th. Norway dropped two spots to number 10th from 8th.
The Competitiveness Support Fund is a joint venture of the Ministry of Finance, Government of Pakistan, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), established to reposition Pakistan's economy on a more global footing.
USAID's support for CSF is part of the $2.8 billion aid that the U.S. Government has provided to Pakistan since 2002 to improve economic growth, education, health, and governance and to reconstruct the earthquake-affected areas.

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