Information & Communication Technology in the MENA

How is the sector of information and communication technology (ICT) in the MENA ?  Could the ICT address the MENA region youth unemployment as it was claimed last year?  The World Economic Forum (WEF) provided elements of an answer to this question in its latest report The Global Information Technology Report 2016 made public on last Thursday, July 7th, 2016.

The Global ICT 2016 report starts with the assertion that : “We are at the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which represents a transition to a new set of systems, bringing together digital, biological, and physical technologies in new and powerful combinations.” and its study on the use of ICT world-wide, established a ranking of some 139 countries from around the world, based on indicators that relate, inter alia, to the political and regulatory environment and to the business environment, the technological infrastructure of each of the countries, the use of ICT by citizens as well as by business companies and by public administrations.  It concludes with an estimated impact on the economy and society of each of the countries.

The study was conducted in collaboration with the INSEAD, a French graduate business school with campuses in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

According to the Global Information Technology Report 2016, Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, Israel, Singapore, the Netherlands and the United States are leading the world when it comes to generating economic impact from investments in their respective ICT.

The Report adds that on average, this group of high-achieving economies at the pinnacle of its Networked Readiness Index (NRI) economic impact pillar scores 33% higher than other advanced economies and 100% more than emerging and developing economies.  The seven are all known for being early and enthusiastic adopters of ICT and their emergence is significant as it demonstrates that adoption of ICTs – coupled with a supportive enabling environment characterized by sound regulation, quality infrastructure and ready skills supply among other factors – can pave the way to wider benefits.

Europe remains at the technology frontier with seven out of the top 10 NRI countries being European.   For as far as the MENA is concerned, the UAE (26th) and Qatar (27th) continue to lead the Arab world when it comes to networked readiness.  The MENAP region (Middle East, North Africa, and Pakistan) is home to two of the biggest movers in this year’s rankings: Kuwait (61st, up 11) and Lebanon (88th, also up 11).

It ranked Morocco at the 78th and Tunisia at the 81st and at the other end of the spectrum, Algeria is at the 117th. Unlike Morocco and Tunisia, Algeria was found lagging in a majority of the areas of the country’s ICT.