This has been a unique year. We have seen a turning of the tables. The physical world saw “social distancing” as a norm. On the other hand, the digital world went ballistic - with nearly 1 million new Internet users being added every day. Internet usage also grew at unprecedented rates - both in data volume and practical applications. Now, we literally travel at the speed of light from one continent to another, or even to our local grocery store. We see a new world emerging, where the Internet brings everyone closer together. We learn on videos; we interact in e-conferences, we engage in news from the other side of the globe - we, as humanity, are ready for one network.
As STL – Sterlite Technologies Limited, we are excited to partner with Portulans Institute to answer this question - with the Network Readiness Index (NRI). This report assesses how countries are leveraging information technologies to be future-ready. At STL, we have spent the last twenty-five years dedicated to connecting the world with the purpose of “Transforming billions of lives by delivering digital networks”.
This has meant an ongoing quest for developing and implementing solutions that will bring large-scale, high-quality and affordable Internet to the whole world.
Sweden, Denmark, and Singapore are the most future-ready societies, according to the latest Network Readiness Index (NRI) report. This makes Europe (with three countries in the global top 4) the leading region in the world.
The United States remains the undisputed global leader when it comes to Future Technologies; indeed, it is ranked in the top 10 in each of the sub-pillar’s five indicators (claiming the top spot in two of them); China is now a global contender in key areas such as AI, e-commerce, 5G.
Africa continues to trail behind other regions, especially when it comes to access, affordability, and usage of ICTs. Once the “ripple effect” of COVID starts to hit international trade and investment flows, such divergences between “network-ready economies” and “laggards” may be amplified.
COVID and lockdown strategies have accelerated digital transformation. This creates both opportunities and challenges, such as possible increases in inequalities. Appropriate governance mechanisms are required to mitigate the matter without hindering the former.
In all types of economies, investments in technology alone cannot guarantee higher levels of network readiness. The ability of national economies to sustain efforts to allow reskilling and up-skilling of their local workforce and talents is key to their future. Recovery packages will have a key role to play.
The 2020 NRI is the second edition of a renewed NRI model, and it ranks a total of 134 economies based on their performance across 60 variables. This year’s edition is grounded on the Portulans Institute and STL -Sterlite Technologies hosted Digital Transformation Dialogue Series, which interviewed high-level experts from across the globe on various aspects of Digital Transformation - from the role of business and governments to issues of inclusion, and more. Recognizing the pervasiveness of digital technologies in today’s networked world, the Index is grounded in four fundamental dimensions: Technology, People, Governance and Impact. This holistic approach means that the NRI covers issues ranging from future technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) to the role of the digital economy in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).