via a WEF News Release:
Despite efforts over the past decade to develop information and communications technologies (ICT) infrastructure in developing economies, a new digital divide in terms of ICT impacts persists, according to the latest rankings of The Global Information Technology Report 2012: Living in a Hyperconnected World, released today by the World Economic Forum.
Sweden (1st) and Singapore (2nd) top the rankings in this year’s report in leveraging information and communications technologies to boost country competitiveness. Switzerland (5th), the Netherlands (6th), the United States (8th), Canada (9th) and the United Kingdom (10th) also show strong performances in the top 10.
However, ICT readiness in sub-Saharan Africa is still low, with most countries showing significant lags in connectivity due to insufficient development of ICT infrastructure, which remains too costly, and displaying poor skill levels that do not allow for an efficient use of the available technology. Even in those countries where ICT infrastructure has been improved, ICT-driven impacts on competitiveness and well-being trail behind, resulting in a new digital divide.
Under the theme Living in a Hyperconnected World, the report explores the causes and consequences of living in an environment where the Internet is accessible and immediate; people and businesses can communicate instantly; and machines are interconnected. The exponential growth of mobile devices, big data and social media is a driver of this process of hyperconnectivity and, consequently, fundamental transformations in all areas of society are being witnessed. This year’s report tracks how societies leverage ICT to derive important competitive advantages and increase social well-being.
But [the report] said there are disparities in the region, with advanced economies such as Germany and France behind the top-ranked Nordics at 16 and 23 respectively in the ranking and all four of the European Union’s southern countries _Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece lagging even farther behind. In the lowest tier are many Eastern European countries with Romania at 67, Albania at 68 and Bulgaria at 70.
[Benat] Bilbao-Osorio [associate director of the World Economic Forum’s Center for Global Competitiveness and Performance and co-author of the report] said the United States was ranked 8, not higher, because the government and opposition have had difficulties addressing challenges to the economy in recent years.