NRI


Have not had the time to do the usual analysis, so was happy to see this report in the Financial Times. 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).
The rise of social media hammered the readership of our blog. So there have been times when I have wondered whether it’s worth the time and effort. Today is not one such day. I was reading the Reforms Chapter of the recently released Annual Report 2013 of the Sri Lanka Ministry of Finance and Planning, when my eyes were snagged by somewhat familiar language: Although Sri Lanka and India have dropped in their rankings: Sri Lanka from 69th place to 76th, a fall of seven places, being overtaken by countries such as South Africa, Indonesia and Thailand: India has dropped from 68th to 83rd place. Philippines, which is a BPO powerhouse has advanced from 86th place to 78th, ahead of India, but behind Sri Lanka.
I was looking for overall indicators for the Bhutan ICT sector a few years back. The only index that included Bhutan then was the ICT Development Index, published by the ITU. So I am happy that WEF has included Bhutan in the NRI for the first time. And they have placed at 94, ahead of all their S Asian peers other than Sri Lanka and India. Pakistan and Bangladesh on the other hand have slid back by 6 and 5 places, respectively.
I have never been a great fan of NRI type indices where the components are somewhat opaque and some are subjective. Instead of going into the details of the method and weaknesses of components such as the mythical (for the most part) numbers of Internet users, I thought I’d check in against four countries that have launched major initiatives on broadband promotion using government subsidies: Australia, India, Indonesia and Malaysia. Australia’s plan is the winner in terms of public money committed and Malaysia is the winner in terms of households already connected. Case studies conducted with Ford Foundation support should be on the web shortly. Australia is holding steady at 18th place.
As long as I can remember, India has been ahead of Sri Lanka in the WEF Network Readiness Index. But no more. Sri Lanka is now ranked 76th while India is ranked 83rd. The bad part of the story is that both countries have dropped in the rankings: Sri Lanka from 69th place to 76th, a fall of seven places, being overtaken by countries such as South Africa, Indonesia and Thailand. India’s fall has been more dramatic: a 15-place retreat from 68th to 83rd.
The 2013 Network Readiness Index of the World Economic Forum is out. Singapore is in second place worldwide, the only Asian country to make the top 10. Taiwan China, Korea, Hong Kong China and Malaysia occupy 10th, 11th, 14th and 30th positions respectively. China has fallen back seven places to 58th rank. India is now only 10 places behind China, at 68th, advancing one position.
The Network Readiness Index published by the World Economic Forum has always treated Sri Lanka and India well. They have quoted extensively from the Information and Communication Technology Plan for Sri Lanka 2011–2016 (which is, curiously, not available on the Ministry and ICTA websites). But more on that later. It appears that the methodology has been radically reworked in 2012, so much so that comparisons with previous rankings do not appear in the report. While Sri Lanka’s overall rank (71st) slips back to where it was in 2009-10 (72nd), its relative position among the South and South East Asian countries has improved considerably.
The World Economic Forum has issued its Global Information Technology Report which includes the NRI rankings. I find the sub indices always more instructive but for now, only the top line aggregate rankings are discussed. The big winner, among the countries LIRNEasia works in and the WEF covers, is Indonesia, advancing from 67th place in 2009-10 to 53rd place in 2010-11, a massive jump of 14 places. Sri Lanka has advanced six places from 72nd to 66th. Bangladesh advances three places to 115th, from 118th.
We are not the greatest fans of the Network Readiness Index, but we do believe it matters. Many of these composite indices are built upon questionable data such as the problematic “Internet users/100” indicator. No time at this moment to probe the details, but here are some key takeaways: The study showed the rapid progress of the so-called Asian Tigers, whose governments have invested heavily in technology. Besides Singapore, Taiwan was ranked 6th, South Korea 10th and Hong Kong 12th. Japan was 19th.