The UAE ranks 24th in the world and 1st among Arab countries in its use of information and communication technologies (ICT) to enhance competitiveness and development, according to The Global Information Technology Report 2010-2011, Transformations 2.0, released by the World Economic Forum.

Other Arab countries are prominently featured in the ranking as well: Qatar (25), Bahrain (30), Saudi Arabia (33), Oman (41).

Sweden and Singapore continue to top the rankings of The Global Information Technology Report 2010-2011, Transformations 2.0, recently released by the World Economic Forum, confirming the leadership of the Nordic countries and the Asian Tiger economies in adopting and implementing ICT advances for increased growth and development.

Finland jumps to third place, while Switzerland and the United States are steady in fourth and fifth place respectively. The 10th anniversary edition of the report focuses on ICT’s power to transform society in the next decade through modernization and innovation.

The Nordic countries lead the way in leveraging ICT. With Denmark in 7th and Norway in 9th place, all are in the top 10, except for Iceland, which is ranked in 16th position. Led by Singapore in second place, the other Asian Tiger economies continue to make progress in the ranking, with both Taiwan, China, and Korea improving five places to 6th and 10th respectively, and Hong Kong SAR following closely at 12th.

With a record coverage of 138 economies worldwide, the report remains the world’s most comprehensive and authoritative international assessment of the impact of ICT on the development process and the competitiveness of nations. The Networked Readiness Index (NRI) featured in the report examines how prepared countries are to use ICT effectively on three dimensions: the general business, regulatory and infrastructure environment for ICT; the readiness of the three key societal actors  individuals, businesses and governments  to use and benefit from ICT; and their actual usage of available ICT.

While the UAE scored relatively well in both the environment and usage categories (#25 and #30, respectively), its strongest performance is in the readiness measurement, where it finished 6th out of the 138 countries measured.

In several subcategories, the UAE scored even higher: Its level of company-wide technology adoption in the private sector is 5th in the world, the government’s procurement of advanced tech products is 3rd, and its per-capita number of mobile telephone subscriptions is 1st.

Under the theme Transformations 2.0, this 10th anniversary edition explores the coming transformations powered by ICT, with a focus on the impact they will have on individuals, businesses and governments over the next few years. Since the beginning of the report, the sheer amount of information generated by today’s digital society has increased at an astounding rate.

“Innovation and ICT have proven a crucial lever for long-term growth, with countless social and economic benefits and the capacity to significantly improve people’s life around the world,” said Alan Marcus, Senior Director and Head of Information Technology and Telecommunications, World Economic Forum. “Countries fully integrating new technologies and leveraging the new data revolution in their development and growth strategies are laying the foundations for competitive, resilient economies for the future.”

Globally, it is becoming more and more apparent that widely available and affordable high-speed broadband is essential in driving national competitiveness and enabling advancements in key priority areas including education, healthcare, energy and the environment, and civic engagement.

Governments around the world are now spending billions and setting ambitious targets as they recognise that a crucial foundation for many areas of socioeconomic development are digital highways—defined as nationwide high-speed broadband enabled by a combination of fixed as well as wireless networks.

Just as actual highways connect people and foster social and commercial activity, digital highways can facilitate the creation of virtual communities in vital areas. When policymakers and telecommunications operators collaborate with leaders in other sectors, such as health and education, they are laying the groundwork for profound improvements—boosting national competitiveness, innovation, economic productivity, and social inclusion.

However, accelerating the deployment of digital highways and deriving their full benefits is not a simple task. It requires fundamental changes in vision and action throughout the entire broadband ecosystem. Policymakers and network operators must first look beyond broadband networks alone and facilitate the development of a host of related services and applications (apps), then actively encourage citizens to use them.

There is also a strong need for collaboration among other sector participants such as device manufacturers, application developers, and counterparts in adjoining sectors. Finally, the members of the broadband ecosystem must work with their counterparts in adjacent industries—such as health, energy, education, and transportation—to develop the apps that will help those sectors to reap broadband’s benefits. Only when all of these stakeholders are fully engaged can digital highways reach their full potential and facilitate efficiency, competitiveness, and prosperity in the communities they serve.

Click here to download the PDF report by Booz & Company.

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