The World Economic Forum (WEF) has urged countries in Latin America to reinforce their efforts in improving regulations and innovation in order to exploit the potential of ICT.
Considering the WEF’s latest Networked Readiness Index (NRI), which measures 143 economies in terms of their growth in ICT infrastructure, the region has a long way to go to catch up with the advanced world. But in its Global Information Technology Report 2016, WEF has praised several Latam countries, saying they are moving up in the value chain.
Half of the countries in the region have increased their score since last year, with Chile (38th) and Haiti (137th) retaining their ranking on the index. Thanks largely to cheap fixed broadband internet connections, Brazil came in at 72nd place this year, partially reversing the strong downward trend of recent years.
“Brazil makes large strides in terms of improving individual usage this year, climbing five places to 57th—this is a considerable achievement, given that other countries are also moving quickly on individual adoption,” the report noted. Yet network readiness in the country continues to be held back by a weak regulatory environment. The business and innovation environment in Brazil is also ranked as one of the weakest in the world (124th), with both venture capital availability and government technology procurement falling further.
What is worrying is the fact that the Brazilian business community does not seem to be confident in government’s ability to incorporate digital technologies in its overall strategy.
Argentina continues on its upward trajectory, ranking 89th this year. Moreover, WEF says the recent change in government might inject renewed momentum into the digital agenda. “With mobile phone use one of the highest in the world (13th) and an overall solid adoption rate among individuals, businesses in Argentina are making use of digital technologies to transact with consumers,” the report added.
In Mexico, mobile broadband subscriptions are becoming increasingly popular and individual usage is thus catching up with business usage and government usage. “At the same time, the regulatory environment is perceived to have deteriorated along several lines, such as the efficiency of the legal system in settling disputes and challenging regulations,” the report said.
Colombia maintains the same score as last year, but slips four ranks to 68th due to the improved performance of other countries. ICT adoption among the population kept increasing at a fast rate: there were 45.1 mobile broadband subscriptions per 100 people in 2014, up from 25.0 in 2013 and 3.7 in 2011.
“The overall political and business environment in Colombia remains its main weakness, with low effectiveness of law-making bodies and an inefficient judicial system. Taxation also remains disproportionately high, at a rate of 69.7%.”
At the top of the Index are Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, Israel, Singapore, the Netherlands and the United States.