Egypt has ranked 84th on the latest Network Readiness Index (NRI) for 2020 and, as such, is the most network-ready country in Northern Africa.
The ranking was revealed in a report, entitled “Accelerating Digital Transformation in a post-COVID Global Economy”.
Egypt appears to have a slight advantage in the level of information and communication technology (ICT) usage and skills among its citizens, especially in the government’s support of emerging technologies and of research and development (R&D) activities.
Egypt’s weakest dimension, meanwhile, is in ICT-related governance, where its challenges include improving regulation and ensuring more equal access to digital technologies across the population.
The 2020 results of the NRI were released on 19 October by the Portulans Institute, assessing how countries are ready to leverage information technologies to be future-ready.
The Washington DC-based non-profit think tank took over from the World Economic Forum (WEF), in 2019, to publish the annual rankings, and covers 134 countries in this latest edition.
The NRI model recognises the pervasiveness of digital technologies in today’s networked world, and rests on 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 digital transformation in reaching the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
This year’s top five countries are, in order: Sweden, Denmark, Singapore, Netherlands, and Switzerland.
In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, the top three countries are, with global ranks in parentheses: the UAE (30), Qatar (38), and Saudi Arabia (41).
In terms of the UAE’s ranking, the GCC state is the only country in the region that made it into the top quartile of the global ranking. It is the top regional performer when it comes to ICT usage and skills among individuals, and the population also enjoys a high access to ICT.
However, more could be done to strengthen ICT-related regulation and increase the positive contribution of digital technologies to the society at large.
Meanwhile, Qatar is positioned in 38th on the NRI 2020, which is partly due to the impressive access to ICTs enjoyed by the population, and the role of advanced technologies in economic activities.
The country’s citizens have high levels of ICT usage and skills, but there is room to increase the use of digital technologies among its businesses and national authorities.
“Saudi Arabia ranks third regionally and 41st globally in this year’s index. Its main strength relates to the high level of ICT usage and skills in the country, primarily at the individual level but also among businesses and in the government,” the report said, “One of the country’s greatest challenges is to increase the positive contribution of digital technologies to sustainable development.”
Bruno Lanvin, Co-Founder of Portulans Institute and Co-Author of the Report, said, “Arab countries display uneven performances in terms of network readiness: whereas the Gulf countries (the UAE, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia) rank high, more heavily populated countries like Egypt still need to accelerate digital transformation.”
He added, “In a post-COVID global information economy, this will be an important prerequisite to be part of recovery’s first wave.”
Sherif Kamel, Dean of the American University in Cairo’s (AUC) School of Business, and President of American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt (AmCham Egypt), said, “The acceleration of digital transformation post-COVID-19 does not only depend on infrastructural readiness but also on the human and innovation capital.”
He added, “We are dedicated to realising a positive human impact that is scalable and sustainable.”
On 11 November, the Portulans Institute, with the support of UNESCO, the AUC, and the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt, will host a regional spotlight online event. In this panel, Portulans Institute co-founders will join regional experts to discuss these critical issues and NRI 2020 insights for MENA.
High-level speakers include: Anand Agarwal,CEO of STLGroup; Paul Hector, UNESCO Regional Bureau for Sciences in the Arab States; Sherif Kamel; Bruno Lanvin; Nagla Rizk, Professor of Economics and Founding Director of the Access to Knowledge for Development Center (A2K4D) at the AUC’s School of Business; Majd Shweikeh, Jordan’s Former Minister of ICT and Former Minister of Tourism and Antiquities; and Ahmed Tantawy, Advisor to Egypt’s Minister of Communication and Information Technology. It will be moderated by Marolla Haddad, Senior Digital development Policies Specialist and Digital Development GP at the World Bank