Mauritius and South Africa were both ranked in the top half of the 13th edition of World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report (GITR) released yesterday, with Mauritius ranked first among the African countries and South Africa coming a distant second.

Mauritius was positioned 48th out of 148 countries with a score of 4.31 on a maximum of 7 points, compared to 2013 when it was ranked 55th and scored 4.12 points. On the other hand, South Africa came a distant second with its rank steady at 70th position, even as its score improved to 3.98 points compared to last year’s 3.9 points.

Rounding up the top ten in Africa were Tunisia which was 87th globally, Cape Verde (89th), Egypt (91st), Kenya (92nd), Ghana (96th), Morroco (99th), Botswana (103rd) and Gambia (107th).

Coming to the rest of the world, Finland (1st), Singapore (2nd), Sweden (3rd), the Netherlands (4th), Norway (5th) and Switzerland (6th) all retained their positions from last year. The United States (7th), Hong Kong SAR (8th) and the Republic of Korea (10th) all climbed while the United Kingdom (9th) was the only nation in the top 10 that declined.

The BRIC countries, however, dropped in rankings with Brazil (69th), India (83rd) and China (62nd) all declining while Russia (50th) was the sole exception, climbing up 4 places. For these emerging economies, the report noted that “many of the favorable conditions fueling that growth have begun to fade away; this can have consequences not only for these particular countries, but—given their size and increasing importance in an interconnected world—also for the global economy.”

However, countries such as the United Arab Emirates (24th), Kazakhstan (38th) or Panama (43rd), which that have developed a strong vision to develop their ICT capacity did well.

The report said that, at present, the world is slowly emerging from one of the worst financial and economic crises in decades, and policymakers, business leaders, and civil society are looking into new opportunities that can consolidate growth, generate new employment, and create business opportunities. In this context, information and communication technologies (ICTs) continue to rank high on the list as one of the key sources of new opportunities.

The report however, noted that little progress was made in bridging the digital divide between technology savvy nations and others. According to the report, the stalling of progress was worrisome for emerging and developing nations, which are at risk of missing out on many positive impacts information and communications technologies (ICT), including increased innovation, economic competitiveness and greater social inclusion.

The report noted that the benefits of ICT can only be fully derived when a country implements a holistic strategy aimed at creating conditions for skills, innovation and entrepreneurship to flourish alongside modern infrastructure.

For Sub-Saharan Africa, the report noted that the region slowly continues to develop its ICT infrastructure, with emphasis on mobiletelephony and by expanding the number of Internet users, which in some countries—such as South Africa—has almost doubled. These improvements have ledto many important innovations that provide more andbetter services that were previously unavailable, suchas financial services.

Notwithstanding this progress, the region overall continues to suffer from a relatively poor ICT infrastructure, which remains costly toaccess. More importantly, severe weaknesses persist in the region’s business and innovation ecosystems, which result in very low positive economic and social impacts.

Addressing these weaknesses, not only by developing a more solid ICT infrastructure but also by improving the frameworkconditions for innovation and entrepreneurship, will becrucial to avoid the emergence of a new digital divide, concludes the report.

Image (Invest Mauritius): The World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report (GITR) noted that information and communication technologies continue to rank high on the list as one of the key sources of new opportunities for the global economy.

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