The Global Information Technology Report (GITR) has been released under the theme “ICT for Inclusive Growth”. The report is one of the several competitiveness reports produced by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with the Botswana National Productivity Centre (BNPC).
In the 2015 GITR, Botswana is ranked #104 out of 143 countries compared to 103 out of 148 countries in 2014. This is based on a quality score rating of 3.4 out of 7, which has remained the same as in 2014.
Like the previous year’s report, Botswana’s strong performance still remains the political and regulatory environment, boasting of a top fifty 50 ranking. However, this year’s report shows that most of the indicators within this category have dropped. The report reveals that there are a small number of procedures to enforce a contract in Botswana; however it still takes relatively long to enforce contracts (625days).
In addition, law-making bodies within the country are still considered to be effective. Botswana is ranked among the top fifty (50) countries on effectiveness of legal systems in settling disputes and challenging regulations.
“This is largely supported by the country’s relatively strong institutional framework as reported in the Global Competitiveness Report. The overall country performance under the Political & Regulatory Environment is position 47 with a quality score of 4.1.”
On the individual mobile broadband and phone subscriptions, the country is ranked among the top twenty (20) in the world, an admirable achievement. Also, the percentage of individuals using internet, households with personal computer and access to internet have improved as compared to last year. However, it is noted that the overall country performance in the Individual Usage pillar shows a drop in the ranking from 79th to 85th.
The 2015 report also shows that government usage of ICT is ranked better than usage of individuals and businesses. “This is probably because government have been more proactive in investing in ICT compared to businesses. The business-to-consumer internet use is ranked very low (120) as well as capacity for innovation by businesses and firm level absorption of technology, 106 and 92 respectively.”
The country’s Technological Readiness is still ranked low (116th) with a below average quality score of 3.3. Due to the challenges the country faces around Infrastructure, particularly in the production of electricity, limited network access, low and relatively costly bandwidth throughout country, international internet bandwidth, mobile network coverage and secure internet servers are ranked very low. Affordability of ICT is a major challenge in the country. Whilst the rates have been reducing in recent years, from the rankings it shows that tariffs are still comparatively very high and internet and telephony competition still not among the best.
The economic impacts of ICT remain minimal. There is limited impact of ICT on new services and products and on new organisations models. Botswana, like other developing countries, has not fully exploited the potential of ICT to drive social and economic transformation and catch up with advanced nations.
With the Report confirming the extremely high correlation between ICT adoption by individuals, businesses and government, and the capacity to generate economic and societal impact, it should also be noted that the fundamental requirement is the creation of a good regulatory and business environment with competitive ICT markets.
It is also noted that government leadership in the creation of a good regulatory and business environment with competitive ICT markets is a fundamental requirement for all countries, including Botswana. But while government action is necessary to address the digital divides, efforts must also be made to encourage individuals to participate in the digital economy.
The performance of sub-Saharan Africa is particularly poor: 30 of the 31 countries included in the sample appear in the bottom half of the Network Readiness Index (NRI) rankings. The only exception is Mauritius, at 45th. The country has progressed three places since last year and eight since 2012. Botswana ranks fourth in the Sub-Saharan region.
Among the heavily populated countries of the region, Nigeria drops seven places to 119th. South Africa drops five to 75th placing the latter third in the region behind Mauritius and Seychelles (74th). Sub-Saharan Africa is the worst-performing region in nine of the ten all pillars. The exception is in the Political and Regulatory Environment, wherein Latin America and the Caribbean obtains the lowest average score.
The GITR uses the Networked Readiness Index (NRI) to measure 143 economies in terms of their capacity to prepare for, use and leverage ICTs. This year, the NRI ranks Singapore as the top country in the world when it comes to leveraging ICTs for social and economic impact. Singapore replaces Finland at the top, which had been number one since 2013, and is joined in the top 10 by one other Asian nation, Japan, which climbs an impressive six places year-on-year to 10th position. Occupying the third slot behind Finland is Sweden. The highest-placed G7 economy is the United States (7th), followed by the United Kingdom (8th). Germany, the world’s fourth-largest economy, ranks 13th, down one place on last year.
In recent years several initiatives have been implemented aimed at addressing various aspects pertaining to the country’s Network Readiness. Some of these have filtered through whilst the benefits of others remain to be seen. The Report presents an opportunity for reflection, introspection and identifying opportunities for further improvement. (Source: BNPC/ in partnership with Ministry of Transport and Communications)