Singapore, Taiwan lead Asia anew in global ICT rankings

Singapore and Taiwan led Asia anew in the new global ICT ranking published by the World Economic Forum (WEF). South Korea (12th), Hong Kong (13th) and Japan (18th) were the three other Asian countries in the top 20.

Singapore retained its second place in the global ranking, just a few notches lower than top ranked country Sweden. Taiwan, however, dropped a few notches lower from 6th place in last year's index to 11th place this year, but still second in Asia.

WEF has been publishing the Global Information Technology Report (GITR) since 2002 and has become the most comprehensive international assessment of the preparedness of countries and economies to use information and communication technologies (ICT) for development.

The core of the report, the Networked Readiness Index (NRI), assign country scores on 10 pillars -  political and regulatory environment, business and innovation environment, infrastructure and digital content, affordability, skills, individual usage, business usage, government usage, economic impacts and social impacts.

As in last year's survey, the Nordic countries - Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Netherlands, and Norway, were leading the world in ICT usage, but in Asia,  so-called Asian tigers continue to show the way.

In its analysis of Asia's to five, WEF said Singapore leads in 2 of the 10 pillars for network readiness -- political and regulatory environment pillar and the business and innovation environment pillar. It is also among the top 10 of five more pillars.

Meanwhile, the WEF noted that Taiwan has made significant progress in the use of ICT since the 1980s and it ranks third in the government usage pillar, 7th in the economic impacts pillar, and 2nd in the social impacts pillar. However, it has some weaknesses in the political and regulatory framework, although its business and innovation environment are favorable.

For South Korea, the regulatory framework also represents the main area of concern as it only ranks 43rd in the world, and has relatively low marks in areas related to the functioning of its public institutions. The country, however, has impressive  mobile broadband penetration and 97 percent of households have access to the Internet. It also leads the government usage and social impacts pillars.
According to WEF, Hong Kong SAR delivers a consistent performance, but has fewer highlights than the other three Tigers. It ranks 3rd in the business and innovation environment pillar, and 5th in both the affordability pillar and the social impacts pillar.

"And when looking at individual indicators, one notices that Hong Kong has almost 200 mobile telephone subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, a world record. It also boasts the world’s largest Internet bandwidth per user (780 kilobytes per second)," WEF added.

Japan, in 18th place, boasts of a big competitive edge in the sophistication of its business sector, and technology have greatly contributed to its economy. However, the WEF report found some shortcomings in the in the environment sub index of the NRI, including red tape.