Network Readiness: Sri Lanka advances; India, Pakistan and Nepal retreat; Bangladesh holds its bottom place

Posted on August 21, 2009  /  10 Comments

According to the World Economic Forum’s Network Readiness Index (covering 134 countries in 2008-09), only Sri Lanka has gained any ground among the South Asian countries.

India is the first within the region, ranked 54th (down from 50th in 2007-08). Sri Lanka has made considerable progress from 79th place in 2007-08 to 70th place in a straight comparison (72nd among the 2008-09 countries). Congratulations to the industry, ICTA and all who contributed to this gain.

Pakistan has slipped to 95th in a straight comparison from its 89th position in 2007-08. Nepal has slipped to 121st from 119th, and Bangladesh holds at 124th when compared with the 2007-08 set, but is 130th out of 134 in the 2008-09 set.


  1. “Bangladesh holds its bottom place”

    lol, this is why I stopped taking these bullsh*t rankings seriously.

  2. LIRNEasia engages in benchmarking. Therefore, we take these things seriously. Whether we take them seriously or not, many people do (therefore we have to). We have also covered NRI rankings for several years (e.g.,, so there was no reason not to do so this year.

    I did not have the time, but what would ideally be done is to critically assess the method when reporting the results. I did that for a different ranking unrelated to LIRNEasia’s remit: Perhaps we will do this for NRI type ranking as part of the 2010-12 research cycle.

  3. The problem with when you or any other organizations who engages in benchmarking via surveying or other rudimentary approaches, a large portion of reality is left behind. I looked at both lirneasia’s and World Economic Forum’s benchmarks. There is a large discrepancies in Bandwidth prices and # of internet/broadband users in Bangladesh from lirneasia’s data. Whereas it was night and day difference in the World Economic Forum’s benchmarks. They used data from 2005 for this years NRI. This is totally unacceptable as price of telecom price drops rapidly, especially in the developing nations. The decline of price and growth of users have been exponential in the recent years and these benchmarks fails to capture the reality. Just my 2 cents.

  4. Any measurement is be definition incomplete; it captures only one aspect of the object under study. So perfection is not the issue. Does it serve the purpose? Does it introduce error? How good is it in relation to the alternatives? These are the relevant questions.

    I cannot tell from the language above whether the criticism is leveled at LIRNEasia’s benchmarks or at WEFs. Our methods are not rudimentary. When we do surveys (teleuse@BOP), we use representative samples, for the most part (the migrant module was one exception). When we benchmark prices, we follow a stated methodology. Our data are not from 2005; we collect them every six months, so they should be valid as at Jan-Feb 2009.

    But I do sympathize with people like WEF and the World Bank who work with large sets of countries. They have no alternative but to take what the ITU gives them, irrespective of quality.

    We did find one ITU produced index quite ludicrous and said so on this blog: The discussion that included inputs from within the ITU is illuminating.

  5. Well lirneasia definitely does a better job than WEF, probably because you guys deal with way less countries. Nevertheless, if WEF does not have quality data then why pretend to represent the new defacto benchmark. Due to logistics and infrastructure the quality of the data coming from countries as varied as Australia and Zimbabwe can not be compared, in my humble opinion; and thus they should exclude those countries they don’t have good data on,otherwise they are misleading the readers.

  6. In the context of this discussion, I think it is worth noting that the WEF Index differs from many other composite indices of ICT performance in that it uses a lot of “soft” data from surveys of opinions among the WEF membership which is combined with some “hard” data, such as broadband penetration etc.

    As an example of the soft data, consider the following question which is used in the section on the policy and regulatory environment: “How effective is your national parliament/congress as a law-making institution? (1 = very ineffective, 7 = very effective, among the best in the

    This question is neither easy to answer not very revealing about ICT performance. Inevitably, the sample size of people being questioned is much smaller for some countries than for others, and culturally, citizens of some countries are publicly more critical in survey data than citizens of other countries. As a result, the data is inevitably biased.

    Speaking as someone who has tried, inthe past, to construct composite indices, I feel it is preferable to separate out hard and soft data and not to try to combine them, as WEF does. Furthermore, when using survey data based on small sample sizes, it is probably not justifiable to look at changes over time as this mainly just reflects changes in the sample rather than real changes in the performance of the country.

  7. Perhaps the link for The Global Information Technology Report 2008-2009 has been removed from docstoc on copyright issue.

    Much of these reports work on older data and data collection mechanism seemed erroneous as these derive from unreliable sources.

    BTRC has recently undertaken a development project in consultation with ITU on MIS and Statistical Indicator tools to be able to provide various indicators and data which represent the real telecom & ICT growth, the expansion of the telecom & ICT services, its penetration & the overall situation of these sectors (Telecom & ICT).

    Thank you.

  8. All indicators and indices tell the truth, but partially. Mr Hassan may find the broad assessment of Sri Lanka’s ICT progress (or lack thereof) using multiple indices of interest, because the tables contain the ranking for Bangladesh too:

  9. I had the opportunity of writing nearly half-a-dozens of reports on the telecoms and ICT sectors of Bangladesh during this decade until 2007. It was a nightmare every time. There was not a single source of bare-minimum credible data. You simply cannot cook up the numbers. Friends and contacts across the industry had always salvaged me with the best possible statistics. The country still suffers from acute scarcity of primary data. It’s utterly foolish to expect anything from the government. Yet the website of BTRC quarterly updates the fixed and mobile net additions. Kudos to its immediate past chairman to take this initiative. But what the private sector has been doing at data front? Absolutely nothing. Look at the websites of BCS, BASIS and ISPAB. You will find everything except the very basic numbers pertaining to respective industry. AMTOB, the billion dollars mobile phone industry’s trade body, doesn’t even have a website. In the backdrop of such scarcity of data we still have the nerve to react against any negative report card. Patriotism sells only among the few naïves within the political territory. It’s hell of a wild world beyond that.