NZ loses ground in global tech rankings

By Ben Chapman-Smith

New Zealand has slipped six places in the World Economic Forum's ranking of economies based on their ability to benefit from new digital technologies.

The Forum has just released its Global Information Technology Report 2013, which assesses the digital ecosystems of 144 countries.

Those countries collectively account for more than 98 per cent of global GDP.

Each country was examined in terms of its preparedness to leverage advances in information and communication technologies (ICTs) to drive economic productivity and social development.

New Zealand dropped back to 20th in the rankings with an overall score of 5.2 out of 7, down from 14th last year with a score of 5.4.

The country scored particularly poorly in two key areas - infrastructure and digital content, and affordability.

On the Networked Readiness Index (NRI), New Zealand placed 128th for mobile tariffs, 96th for internet and telephony competition, 82nd for fixed broadband internet tariffs, and 81st for mobile network coverage (percentage of population).

New Zealand managed to top the list in three indicators - judicial independence, number of days to start a business, and number of procedures to start a business.

In compiling its report, the Forum scored economies on the quality of their regulatory, business and innovation environments, their degree of preparedness, and the usage of ICTs by the public.

"The assessment is based on a broad range of indicators from Internet access and adult literacy to mobile phone subscriptions and the availability of venture capital," the report says.

"In addition, indicators such as patent applications and e-government services gauge the social and economic impact of digitization."

Northern European countries dominated the overall rankings, with Finland in first place, Sweden in third, and Norway and the Netherlands also in the top ten.

A second group of economies that posted "a remarkable performance" were the "Asian Tigers".

These included Singapore, Taiwan (China), the Republic of Korea, and Hong Kong SAR.

"All boast outstanding business and innovation environments that are consistently ranked among the most conducive in the world," the report said.

"The Tigers also stand out for their governments' leadership in promoting the digital agenda, and the impact of ICTs on society tends to be larger in these economies."

This year's report focused on 'growth and jobs in a hyper connected world' and found that digitisation has a measurable effect on economic growth and job creation.

"In emerging markets, a comprehensive digital boost could help lift over half a billion people out of poverty over the next decade," the report said.

"New technologies have already transformed sectors from healthcare to farming, case studies in the report show."

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