Africa’s most industrialised country, South Africa, has shown an improvement in this year’s Networked Readiness Index (NRI) rankings (see table below) despite a deteriorating business and innovation environment . This is according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report 2016.
However, South Africa’s large strides in the overall NRI rankings to 65th (up ten), which were mostly driven by improvements in infrastructure and affordability were not enough to put it ahead of Mauritius, which has been the top performer in sub-Saharan Africa for the past five years.
NRI measures the inclination for countries to exploit the opportunities offered by information, communications and technology (ICT) and is regarded as the most reliable and comprehensive assessment.
Nigeria, Africa’s largest country by gross domestic product (GDP) shockingly maintained its 119th position putting it below Lesotho, which has the second lowest GDP on the continent. Cisco, which sponsored the report, reckons that although the West African country did not improve its NRI rankings, this “masks significant heterogeneity in terms of moves in individual dimensions of networked readiness—in particular, a six-spot move up in readiness (to 117th) and a ten-spot move down in impacts (to 114th)”. It attributes the improvement in readiness mainly to the nation reaching full mobile coverage this year; broadband prices having dropped marginally, although they remain high, and improvements in the political and regulatory environment.
Several sub-Saharan African countries mentioned in the report joined South Africa in climbing the ladder. They include Ethiopia which jumped ten spots from 130th to 120th this year, Cote d’Ivoire which moved from 115th place to 106th and Rwanda which increased three spots from 83rd to 80th.
Rwanda’s climb, according to Cisco, was driven by a government that is very focused on the digital agenda.