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Despite efforts over the past decade to develop information and communications technologies (ICT) infrastructure in developing economies, a new digital divide in terms of ICT impacts persists, according to the Global digital divideInformation Technology Report 2012: Living in a Hyperconnected World, released by the World Economic Forum.


Sweden (1st) and Singapore (2nd) top the rankings in leveraging information and communications technologies to boost country competitiveness. Switzerland (5th), the Netherlands (6th), the United States (8th), Canada (9th) and the United Kingdom (10th) also show strong performances in the top 10.


However, ICT readiness in sub-Saharan Africa is still low, with most countries showing significant lags in connectivity due to insufficient development of ICT infrastructure, which remains too costly, and displaying poor skill levels that do not allow for an efficient use of the available technology.


Even in those countries where ICT infrastructure has been improved, ICT- driven impacts on competitiveness and well-being trail behind, resulting in a new digital divide. Despite improvements in many drivers of competitiveness, the BRICS countries – led by China (51st) – still face important challenges to more fully adopt and leverage ICT.


An insufficient skills base and institutional weaknesses, especially in the business environment, present a number of shortcomings that stifle entrepreneurship and innovation. “Hyperconnectivity is redefining relationships between individuals, consumers and enterprises, citizens and state, and we are beginning to see fundamental transformations in all areas of the economy and society,” said Robert Greenhill, chief business officer, World Economic Forum.


“Traditional organisations and industry infrastructures are facing challenges as industries converge. This will inevitably have consequences for policy and regulation as regulators will have to mediate the blurring lines between sectors and industries and will be obligated to oversee more facets in a pervasive way,” he added.


“We believe that in an emerging era of hyper connectivity, ICT will enable a bold new chapter that is entwined with the sustained growth of the global economy,” said Sun Yafang, chairwoman of the Board, Huawei Technologies. The importance of ICT goes beyond its role as a driver of future economic growth as smart devices and cloud services continue to become a greater part of people's daily lives.


"By strategically integrating ICT as part of overall economic growth plans, countries are in a better position to capitalise on the hyperconnected global economy and increase competitiveness on a global scale,” she added.

-----Global Information Technology Report 

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