Qatar leads the Arab world in “networked readiness”, showing a huge boom in mobile broadband subscription from 9.6% to an enormous 70.3% over just the last year, according to a new report published by the World Economic Forum and INSEAD, in partnership with Strategy& and Cisco.
By evaluating the state of ICT in 144 countries, the 12th annual Global Information Technology Report (GITR) classifies countries by a Networked Readiness Index (NRI), which measures a country’s ICT infrastructure, and the usage of ICT among major stakeholders, including individuals, business, and government.
Most Arab countries maintained their NRI positions from last year, while Qatar and the UAE improved by 5 ranks to 23rd and 25th respectively; Saudi Arabia improved by 3 ranks to 31st. Political instability in Bahrain and Egypt may have affected their ranking, as Bahrain lost 2 positions moving them down to 29th and Egypt moved down one position to 80th globally.
This year, the report focused on ways to accelerate the building of digital infrastructures that lead to job creation, by looking at the impact ICT has had on employment.
Key takeaways from the report include:
- Stark differences across the Arab world show an uneven regional performance. While many of the GCC countries have significantly increased ICT investment and usage, other countries have stagnated.
- The government in the UAE has successfully driven the development of the ICT industry to expand the use of ICT to all segments of the economy and society, ranking 1st internationally in this category.
- Egypt’s ICT infrastructure (98th globally) remains underdeveloped, especially in terms of expanding international internet bandwidth capacity (114th), despite strong efforts to make internet access affordable (8th).
- In Bahrain, a strong government push for the development of ICTs in the country (4th internationally) has allowed a fairly well developed ICT infrastructure (39th), especially in terms of mobile network coverage (1st).
- Three GCC countries are in the top five for ICT usage globally. The UAE is 2nd, Bahrain is 4th, Qatar is 5th, followed by Saudi Arabia in 6th place.
- The GCC is leading the world in mobile infrastructure development, with the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait sharing the first rank in mobile phone coverage.
Check out the full report by downloading it from the grey box on the right.