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Philippines tails ASEAN neighbors, Rwanda in 'network readiness' index means BUSINESS

MANILA, Philippines, and SAN FRANCISCO, USA – The Philippines ranks lower than most of its Southeast Asian neighbors – and four notches below Rwanda – in a global survey looking into the "network readiness" of 142 countries.

The Philippines placed 86th overall in the World Economic Forum's newly released "Network Readiness Index", the pillar of the WEF's Global Information Technology Report for 2012.

The country trailed Vietnam (83rd), Indonesia (80) and Thailand (77). On the other end of the ASEAN spectrum, Singapore came in second worldwide, behind only top-scoring Sweden. Malaysia was in 29th place in the global ranking.

With a record coverage of 142 economies worldwide, the GITR remains "the most comprehensive and authoritative international assessment of the impact of ICT on competitiveness and the well-being of nations," the WEF said. "After a two-year review process, the Networked Readiness Index (NRI) featured in the report has evolved to ensure that it captures the main drivers of a rapidly changing ICT industry and remains relevant for public- and private-sector decision-makers,” the WEF said in a statement. “The NRI has increased its focus on the impacts of ICT to better align with areas of public policy. It has added new, relevant indicators such as mobile broadband subscriptions, and dropped other outdated indicators.”

"The Networked Readiness Index (NRI) has been adopted by several governments as a valuable tool for assessing and leveraging technology for competitiveness and development. The success of the NRI emphasizes the importance of continuing to evolve its framework with the changing landscape of technology and the new opportunities it creates," said Soumitra Dutta, Roland Berger Professor of Business and Technology at INSEAD, a co-editor of the report. "To measure this impact effectively, we have introduced a new set of impact-oriented metrics this year that assess not just the availability of technology, but also the ways in which economies put that technology to greater use. Considering how ICT has become omnipresent, the focus has moved from access to making the best use of ICT in order to improve business innovation, governance, citizens’ political participation and social cohesion," added Dutta.

Philippine ICT experts said they were still looking at the details of the GITR report, but surmised that weak and slow infrastructure, the absence of a central department for ICT, and the absence of publicly available data on the sector may have all factored in the country’s poor rating.

The Networked Readiness Index combined data from publicly available sources with feedback from a survey of more than 15,000 executives.

Beyond the performance of any particular country, the Switzerland-based WEF's report warned of a widening "digital divide" among rich and poor nations, highlighting that the world's most developed countries dominate the top of a "networked readiness" list. Even the highest ranking BRICS nation was China in 51st place.

The acronym "BRICS" is used to refer to surging economies in Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Although BRICS are fiercely competitive in the global arena, they are hampered by challenges when it comes to adopting information and communications technology (ICT), according to the "Living in a Hyperconnected World" report.

A lack of skilled workers and shortcomings in institutional environments for businesses were cited as factors stifling entrepreneurship and innovation.

The forum's chief business officer Robert Greenhill said the Internet was causing a shake-up for traditional organizations and "we are beginning to see fundamental transformations in all areas of the economy and society."

Sweden was ranked highest in networked readiness, followed by Singapore, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Netherlands, and Norway.

The United States was in eighth place, with Canada and Britain rounding out the top 10 list.

See and download the Network Readiness Index 2012 rankings here.