Growth and Jobs! These two words have been the obsession of businesses, decision makers and citizens across the world since the financial and economic crisis unleashed in 2008 an unprecedented economic situation. Two main economic formulas have been implemented, one marked by growth oriented policies and the other by austerity measures. The truth is that it stands out the persistence of the crisis and its knock-on effects, and the gloomy economic forecast announced by international organizations for the next years, notably in western societies, impels us to strike the right economic measures.
To understand the global picture is very important and very complex at the same time. For one thing, all actors concerned are focused on the new opportunities provided by the fast-moving and nascent Internet economy. It is a given that the Internet is reshaping the employment situation, services of general interest (e-health, e-government…), the society and the economy in a large extent. Also, they have to take into account the connection between the old economy and the new economy. Indeed, an economic and social analysis of the interaction of these two worlds would be very necessary to harness their potentials and foster their strengths avoiding unwanted outcomes. Much is at stake!
In this sense The Global Information Technology Report 2013 and the Networked Readiness Index (NRI) recently published by the World Economic Forum deserves to be carefully read. After 12 years of investigation the new edition of the report is especially relevant in the light of the massive changes in the context of the “emerging of the others”, the fast-moving Internet economy and the global economic crisis.
This inspiring report gauges the impact of digitization on economic growth and job creation and the figures are really impressive: “Digitization has boosted world economic output by US$ 193 billion over the past two years and created 6 million jobs during that period… an increase of 10% in a country’s digitization score fuels a 0.75% growth in its GDP per capita … (and) … a 1.02% drop in a state’s unemployment rate”. Moreover in emerging countries digitization could help lift over half billion people out of poverty in just a decade. So, it is worth to thoroughly analyze and take into account the more successfully experiences around the world.
The report is divided into four parts: Part 1 is headlined “The current networked readiness landscape”, Part 2 goes through case studies of leveraging ICTs for competitiveness and well-being (Colombia, Rwanda, Uruguay and Panama) and Parts 3 and 4 feature comprehensive profiles for each of 144 economies covered and data tables for each of the 54 variables composing study with global rankings.
The NRI framework incorporates a new variable that provides a general assessment of ICT impacts in terms of competitiveness and well-being of society and as result it gauges:
1. The friendliness of a country’s market and regulatory framework in supporting high levels of ICT uptake;
2. The degree of a society’s preparation to make good use of an affordable ICT infrastructure;
3. The efforts of the main agents to increase their capacity to use ICTs as well as their actual use of ICTs in day-to day activities; and
4. The broad economic and social impacts accruing from ICTs and the transformation of a country toward an ICT-and technology-savvy economy and society.
The overall take away of the first part is that Northern European economies and the so-called Asian Tigers dominate the Index. There are other interesting outcomes: within the European Union persist intra-regional disparities although the divergence Member States is narrower; Asia, being the most successful economy in the world, has a highly fragmented digital landscape; the main challenge of Latin America and the Caribbean is to spur the digital connectivity within the region and Africa has continued to make significant efforts to deploy ICT infrastructure. In the Middle East we find a highly polarized landscape. So fundamentally, the trend is positive!
Over and above these outcomes you can also find in the report contributions of relevant personalities about “Digitization for Economic Growth and Job Creation”, “Convergent Objectives, Divergent Strategies”, “The importance of National Policy Leadership”, “Fiber Broadband” or the “Economic Impact of Next-Generation Mobile Services”, among others.
In the second part, as aforementioned, the report presents the experiences of countries such as Colombia where the Plan Vive Digital lead by the Minister of Information and Communications Technologies, Diego Molano, has provided a new digital framework to overcome the current weaknesses. The case of Rwanda is also analyzed in the report and last but not least, it presents a comparative case study of e-government in Colombia, Uruguay and Panama.
This report is being more and more used by decision makers and businesses to assess the real ICT readiness of countries and regions in order to evaluate the necessary measures to take leapfrog and embrace ICT information technology in a more efficient way. Growth and job creation depend in great part of striking in the assessment and in the cooperation of all relevant actors involved. It is worth to read it and you can do it here!