Sweden overtakes United States in global study of “useful connectivity”
Date: Wed, 05/19/2010 - 14:35 Source: Nokia Siemens PR department
Connectivity Scorecard 2010 highlights the continued need for investment in information and communications technology (ICT) to stimulate return to economic growth
According to the Connectivity Scorecard 2010, increased focus on improving ICT infrastructure, broadband penetration and developing the right workforce skills will counter the lingering effects of the current recession. The results from this year’s study reveal a leadership change in the innovation-driven economies  with Sweden overtaking the US for the top spot. The Connectivity Scorecard is an annual study of “useful connectivity” in 50 countries around the world, commissioned by Nokia Siemens Networks and authored by Professor Leonard Waverman, Dean, Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary, in conjunction with the economic consulting group LECG.
Useful connectivity is defined as the bundle of infrastructure, complementary skills, software and informed usage that makes ICT the key driver of productivity and economic growth.
“The telecommunications and technology sectors proved to be remarkably resilient during the current global financial and economic crisis,” said Professor Waverman. “Broadband penetration and mobile telephone adoption continued to grow in most economies – developed and developing – as did the adoption of many other ICT technologies. Economic recovery and government stimulus packages aimed at boosting broadband deployment and ICT development should provide room for optimism in the coming years.”
“It is heartening to realize that countries acknowledge the ICT ecosystem as the ultimate productivity driver for the 21st century,” added Anne Larilahti, head of Global Policy Initiatives, Nokia Siemens Networks. “Indeed, it is to highlight the economic role of ICT and how countries can benefit from technology-driven growth that we commission the Connectivity Scorecard study.”
Already in its third year, the Connectivity Scorecard for the first time shows a change in leadership among the innovation-driven economies, with the US losing its Number 1 ranking to Sweden. The US, though still a very strong performer, proved not as consistent as Sweden in the past year; and its continued leadership in business infrastructure was not enough to overcome lasting gaps relative to the very best-performing nations, especially in the area of consumer broadband. Conversely, Sweden has successfully narrowed the lead on Asian countries, such as Korea and Japan, in mass-market, next-generation, broadband infrastructure. In addition, the country has performed consistently well on all human skills levels particularly the proportion of highly skilled workers. Frequent use of internet banking, internet commerce and e-government offerings also indicate advanced ICT usage patterns.
“The comparison between the US and Sweden actually brings us to the very essence of the Connectivity Scorecard,” added Professor Waverman. “When we urge countries to step up the use of ICT to better exploit their potential, it is imperative that driving ICT infrastructure to the next level goes hand in hand with investment in human resource training. Sweden not only has the best current mix of attributes, but it also shows few signs of losing its lead. By contrast, there is the beginning of a gap in what was once the essence of US leadership in most industrial and service sectors – education and skills.”
Closely following Sweden and the US among the innovation-driven economies of the Scorecard, Scandinavia remains a technological leader with Norway and Denmark ranked third and fourth, while the Netherlands completes the top five group. The poor showing of southern European economies is repeated again this year with Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece sharing the lowest rankings together with eastern European nations.
There remain marked gaps between the bottom five or six innovation-driven economies and their better performing counterparts. While most of the countries in the middle ranks show at least a few areas of the Scorecard in which they are substantially strong, this is not the case for southern and eastern European economies that are still lagging behind on all the dimensions of ICT deployment, uptake and utilization, the Scorecard seeks to capture. Equally significant are the economic opportunities in these countries precisely because there is so much scope for them to catch up.
Malaysia maintained its lead among the 25 resource and efficiency-driven economies for the third year in a row. South Africa finished second, helped by strong corporate spending on IT hardware, software and services, while Latin American countries such as Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico all registered relatively strong performances.
As with previous iterations of the Scorecard, the Asian giants, India and China, did not perform impressively. China finished 17th in the Connectivity Scorecard 2010 study and India 21st. These findings might be surprising in light of the economic weight of the two countries, but they also highlight the tremendous economic ground that these sprawling and regionally varied nations still have to cover.
Generally, there is a greater degree of convergence between the innovation-driven economies on many metrics such as telephone access, internet usage and broadband penetration, whereas there are fundamental differences between the various resource and efficiency-driven economies.
About the Connectivity Scorecard
Connectivity Scorecard is a global ICT index – the first of its kind to rank countries not only on their deployment of ICT infrastructure but also to measure the extent to which governments, businesses and consumers make use of connectivity technologies to enhance social and economic prosperity. This useful connectivity illuminates how the potential of ICT is being harnessed to boost productivity and economic growth.