The recently released 2015 edition of the Global Information Technology Report of the World Economic Forum has placed Sri Lanka at 65th position in networked readiness among 143 economies surveyed.
Singapore is ranked as the topmost country in networked readiness and replaces Finland, which had been number one since 2013. Japan, which climbs an impressive six places on a year-on-year basis to 10th position, also joins the top 10.
Sri Lanka is the highest-ranked South Asian nation this year and eighth among the Asian nations, beaten only by Singapore (1st), Japan (10th), Korea (12th), Hong Kong (14th), Taiwan (18th), Malaysia (32nd) and China (62nd). All these seven countries are industrialized nations with higher per capita GDP rates. On the other hand, Sri Lanka has been rated above its economic peers; Thailand (67th), South Africa (75th), Indonesia (79th) and Brazil (84th). Overall South Asia’s performance does not look good with India (81st), Bangladesh (102nd) and Pakistan (112th) all not making it to the better half.
Sri Lanka’s performance this year is impressive compared to that of 2014, when it lost points for relatively sluggish infrastructure development. This year Sri Lanka has improved its status particularly in its affordability of ICT facilities, ICT skills, ICT usage by the Government and ICT social impact. In affordability, it is within the top 10 economies.
Sri Lanka still scores relatively low in infrastructure and individual usage but both these indicators may improve this year with the recently launched ‘Free Wi-Fi’ program. This flagship program intends to offer free Wi-Fi facilities at 1,000 public locations before the end of June and guarantees to boost internet use among youth.
Free Wi-Fi facilities have been already provided in a large number of public places including railway stations, main bus stands, public libraries, district secretariats, base hospitals and public parks. More than 80 sites have already been deployed.
Sri Lanka has also done well in some indicators that reflect the outcome of development activities of the Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA). They are the effectiveness of lawmaking bodies, laws relating to ICTs, the efficiency of the legal system in settling disputes, intellectual property protection, the importance of ICTs to the Government’s vision, the availability of government online services, the government’s success in ICT promotion, the impact of ICTs on access to basic services, ICT use and the government’s efficiency and e-participation.
Since 2001, the Networked Readiness Index (NRI) assesses, on an annual basis, the factors, policies and institutions that enable a country to leverage ICTs for shared prosperity. This assessment is based on an aggregation of 53 individual indicators grouped in four main components: environment, readiness, usage and impacts. The individual indicators use a combination of data from publicly available sources and the results of a global survey of 13,000 business executives conducted by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with its network of 160 partner institutes.
The 2015 report, says World Economic Forum Managing Director Espen Barth Eide, is released at a time when many economies around the world are struggling to ensure that economic growth is equitable and provides benefits for their entire populations. Advanced economies have not yet reached their full potential and they struggle with persistently high unemployment, rising inequalities and fiscal challenges. Emerging markets and developing economies are facing stronger headwinds than before and need to adjust their development models to ensure economic growth and a more broad-based distribution of gains.