South Africa ranked region’s most networked economy

By Rebecca Wanjiku , IDG News Service

South Africa is the most networked economy in sub-Saharan Africa, followed by Mauritius and Botswana, according to the latest edition of “The Global Information Technology Report” by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

In North Africa, Tunisia has overtaken Egypt as the most network-ready, while Morocco is ranked third.

The report focuses on the role of networked readiness in spurring innovation and economic growth. The report is in its seventh year and covers 127 economies worldwide. Africa was represented by 27 countries.

The report, which saw Nordic countries taking the lead and Africa holding the last positions, is considered the authoritative international assessment of the impact of ICT on the development process and the competitiveness of nations.

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“The successful experience of the Nordic countries, Singapore, the United States or Korea shows that a coherent government vision on the importance of ICT, coupled with an early focus on education and innovation, are key not only for spurring networked readiness, but also to lay the foundations for sustainable growth,” said Irene Mia, senior economist of the Global Competitiveness Network at the WEF and co-editor of the report.

To compile the index, the WEF used a combination of data from publicly available sources, as well as the results of the “Executive Opinion Survey,” a comprehensive annual survey conducted by the WEF with its network of partner research institutes and business organizations in the countries included in the report.

Tunisia was the highest placed country in Africa at 35. South Africa was 51, Mauritius 54, Egypt 63, Morocco 74, Botswana 78, Senegal 85, Algeria 88, Kenya 92, Namibia 93, Nigeria 94, Mauritania 97, Tanzania 100, The Gambia 101, Burkina Faso 103, Madagascar 104, Libya 105, Uganda 109, Zambia 112, Benin 113, Cameroon 118, Mozambique 121, Lesotho 122, Ethiopia 123, Zimbabwe 125, Burundi 126 and Chad 127.

In a separate study, “The Global Competitiveness Index,” South Africa, Botswana and Mauritius fall in the top half of the rankings. Featuring 134 global economies, the competitiveness index is the most comprehensive study from the WEF. This year, the report was expanded to include Brunei Darussalam, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Malawi.

“The ‘Global Competitiveness Report 2008-2009’ offers policy-makers and business leaders an important tool in the formulation of improved economic policies and institutional reforms,” said Klaus Schwab, WEF founder and executive chairman.

The index is based on 12 pillars of competitiveness: institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic stability, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labor market efficiency, financial market sophistication, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication, and innovation.