WEF


The importance of being earnest

Posted by on February 23, 2018  /  0 Comments

A recent post reflected on the issues with a broadband price ranking that was seemingly issued by or, in the least, endorsed by the World Economic Forum (WEF). There were comments and debates on social media about this WEF ranking that placed Sri Lanka as the 17th least expensive for broadband in the world. Given LIRNEasia’s history and interest in ICT indicators we delved into the methodology and found it to be highly flawed. We also found out that while it was cited on the WEF website, it was not commissioned by the WEF. I presented a critique to the WEF which was published on their blog.
The World Economic Forum recently published some broadband price comparisons that generated some social media conversation, mostly because Sri Lanka, which had the lowest broadband prices according to the ITU, was now the 17th cheapest. LIRNEasia Research Manager Shazna Zuhyle who is active in the ITU’s indicators committees had this to say: The WEF has employed a consulting consultancy firm to gather the data that was then analysed by cable.co.uk. They have simply captured all fixed residential broadband plans per country, averaged the monthly cost and converted to USD.
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 most successful programs clearly define their objectives and broadly communicate their existence to civil society. THE EXAMPLE OF SRI LANKA To illustrate what such a program could look like, we look at Sri Lanka’s stated objectives, extracted directly from the Information and Communication Technology Plan for Sri Lanka 2011–2016 I thought I’d read the entire document, not just the long extract published in the report. Curiously, the reference (Ch 1.6; footnote 19) did not include a URL. Searched using Google.
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.
It was gratifying to see McKinsey picking up on the work that PIPU did in 2002-04 and praising the TRCSL in the regulatory chapter in GITR 2009. There is a lot more refarming to be done TRC; keep up the good work. The move toward a more technology- and service-neutral spectrum policy was mainly triggered by a desire to treat all providers equitably, the urging of mobile providers to shift to GSM technology, and the need to use CDMA as a low-cost solution for fixed wireless access in rural areas. Although the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) was constrained to some extent by existing allocations and defense considerations, it issued more spectrum space. The regulator also recognized the problem of scattering spectrum and attempted to streamline allocations while it cleared capacity in the 1800–1900 megahertz range.
Reading the WEF and INSEAD Global Information Technology Report 2008-09, I was struck by the presence of several references from within the LIRNE.NET community. I would have of course preferred some mention of LIRNEasia (in the same way DIRSI had been mentioned) and or a URL, but still, nice to know our work is being read and used. It is noteworthy that the second author on the first reference below, A. Aguero, is currently with LIRNEasia completing a professional internship.