Zim ranked poorly in global ICT index

HARARE - Zimbabwe has been ranked 116 out of 144 economies in the Networked Readiness Index (NRI) which measures the capacity of economies to leverage Information Communication Technology (ICT) for growth and wellbeing.

The report released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) last week placed Finland, Singapore and Sweden on the top three. These were followed by Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Denmark, the United States, Taiwan and China.

The report remains one of the most comprehensive and authoritative assessments of the impact of ICT on the competitiveness of nations and the well-being of their citizens.

Zimbabwe is currently struggling to retain its position as southern Africa’s second largest economy after South Africa, and the key to improving that, according to the report, lies in a strong (ICT) infrastructure.

On the current networked readiness index, the country was ranked 87 as it has made significant efforts to measure and benchmark ICT deployment and uptake as well as equally assessing the returns that ICTs can actually provide to both the economy and society.

However, Zimbabwe ranks poorly in terms of environment sub-index at position 132 because of lack of a clear cut policy framework and slow implementation.

“The development and general uptake of ICTs depend on the capacity of a country to provide an institutional framework with reliable and efficient rules and regulations; favourable business conditions for the founding and growth of new (social and commercial) enterprises; an innovation-prone environment, capable of developing and absorbing new knowledge; and an ICT-friendly government policy,” said the report.

A country is assessed for its ICT infrastructure, cost of access and the presence of necessary skills.

It is also evaluated on uptake and use of ICT among governments, business and individuals, business and innovation environment as well as the political and regulatory framework.

It is also assessed on economic and social impacts accruing from ICT.

The report pointed out that generally sub-Saharan Africa had continued to make significant efforts to build its ICT infrastructure, as reflected by important improvements in developing its broadband infrastructure and the expansion of its mobile network coverage.

“As a result, ICT usage, while still very low, has picked up slightly, as seen especially by an increase in the number of Internet users and the continued commitment of some governments in the region to expand the number of available online services,” the report noted.

However, despite this positive trend, the stubbornly high sharp digital divide from more advanced economies, notably in terms of ICT-driven economic and social impacts still persists, the report pointed out.

“A still-costly access to ICT infrastructure and relatively low levels of skills with low educational attainments and unfavourable business conditions for entrepreneurship and innovation are hindering the region’s capacity to fully leverage the potential of the increasingly available ICT infrastructure,” said the report.

Growth of ICTs in Zimbabwe is being severely hindered by poor investment in infrastructure and implementation of a comprehensive legislation, ICT experts say.

This comes as ICT minister Nelson Chamisa slammed Finance minister Tendai Biti for allocating “meagre funds” for his ministry in the 2013 National Budget.

 Chamisa — who believes ICT is key in steering Zimbabwe’s moribund economy towards recovery — said the $7 million allocation by Biti is a “drop in the ocean” compared to the sector’s role.

He said the sector requires a $1 billion plus to match international standards. - Kudzai Chawafambira

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.