Trinidad and Tobago drops in 2022 Network Readiness Index
SINCE THE last compilation of the Network Readiness Index, TT has dropped seven places from 85 to 92. In 2020, this country was ranked at 81.
The index has been compiled by Washington's Portulans Institute since 2019, continuing a project that was first published by the World Economic Forum as part of its Global Information Technology Report.
The index is calculated across four pillars: technology, people, governance and impact. Each of these top-level pillars is further analysed using sub-categories.
Technology is measured according to access, content created and the implementation of future technologies.
The people factor is measured according to how individuals use technology, how businesses use ICT and how governments invest in and deploy technology.
Governance rankings are based on trust in the networked economy, the extent of government regulation and policy implementation and the inclusion of challenged communities.
Impact measures the economic value of the networked economy on a country, the value it delivers and the country's alignment with the UN's sustainable development goals.
TT has traditionally done between poorly and middling in global rankings because of a national aversion to consistent, transparent data collection and publication of all its information, with a special lack of emphasis on anything that might be viewed as a performance indicator.
Global digital transformation commitments have been aggressive since March 2020, so the only real surprise in this year's ranking is how slow and incremental the slide has been. It's possible that this drop is being cushioned by countries that are even worse at data-gathering than we are.
The 2022 analysis of this country has been done, for instance, using adult literacy information from 2010, presumably because that's what's available.
So instead of pouting about this slide into digital transformation mediocrity, let's have a look at what's working.
TT is first, for instance, among populations covered by 3G mobile networks, with a perfect score of 100. We are equally tops in e-commerce legislation, with another first placing and perfect score.
We are, however, second to last, with a score of zero, for affordable and clean energy.
It should also come as no surprise that TT scores just 20.81 in cybersecurity, ranking at 114 overall.
In a hierarchy that sees the first 48 ranked nations being either high-income or upper-middle-income economies, TT is the only high-income nation in the lowest 47 grouping.
The country's profile suggests a fat, happy and exceedingly well-connected consumer economy, producing and exporting little to nothing ICT-related, participating marginally in the global ICT marketplace of products and ideas, fiddling with social networks (score: 73.13) while ignoring digital engagement in education (score: 31.07).
Other interesting scores below 20 include: enterprise spending on research and development (16.77), use of open data (19.12), .tt internet domain registrations (2.81) and export of ICT services (5.33).
These numbers aren't being singled out to encourage fretting about the country's placement. But they do indicate general trends in the adoption of technology locally which aren't moving development in directions that are paying off for other countries.
It isn't enough to boast of our connectivity if we aren't doing anything useful, far less innovative, with it.
Among the top 35 countries examined for the index, only one is ranked as upper-middle-income and that's China.
A country is classified as high-income or upper-middle-income based on its income per capita, level of industrialisation, general standard of living and quality of technology infrastructure.
Smaller countries with rich revenue streams do quite well by this measure, and the highest-income country in the world is Monaco, so money isn't everything.
Despite its lower per-capita revenue, China holds position 23 on the index because of its investment in telecommunication services, focus on artificial intelligence and emphasis on ICT skills in its education system.
More compelling is the impact of mobile broadband traffic on China's economic development.
Studies of economies before and after the introduction of fixed-line telephones have established a multiplier effect as communities became connected.
It's estimated that a ten per cent increase in mobile broadband connectivity and commensurate increases in mobile traffic can correlate with a 0.8 per cent increase in GDP.
China's mobile internet traffic places it first in that aspect of network readiness, while TT scores just 1.64 and sits at position 96.
The 2022 Network Readiness Index offers TT's ICT planners and governance leadership a window into what's working for countries globally and where this country's emphasis on technology development is falling short.
It makes sense to examine it more closely.
Mark Lyndersay is the editor of technewstt.com. An expanded version of this column can be found there
"Trinidad and Tobago drops in 2022 Network Readiness Index"