World's first global ICT ranking: UAE ranks 34

The first global index to rank Information and Communication Technology (ICT) access of 178 countries has been released by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). UAE ranks at 34, followed by other Middle East countries, while Sweden leads the way.

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By  Maddy Reddy Published  November 23, 2003

The first global index to rank Information and Communication Technology (ICT) access has been released by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

The Digital Access Index (DAI) covers a total of 178 countries or economies, which are classified into one of four digital access categories: high, upper, medium and low. Countries are classified on a scale of 0 to 1 where 1 is the highest access and are subsequently placed one of four digital access categories: high, upper, medium and low.

The UAE ranked 34th on the DAI with a 0.64 access rating (out of 1) followed by Bahrain (0.60/1) at the 42nd place, Qatar (0.55) at 52nd place, and Kuwait (0.51) at the 64th place for the GCC region, in the 'upper access' of the global index.

Lebanon ranked 67th on the international index and fifth in the GCC at 0.48, followed by Saudi Arabia (0.44), Iran (0.43) and Oman (0.43) in the 'medium access' range of the index. Turkey, Jordan, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Palestine, Algeria and Morocco followed these countries. Low access countries include Syria, Yemen and Sudan, largely countries in Africa and developing nations.

Surprisingly, the UK and U.S are ranked at 10th and 11th spots in the DAI. Countries like Sweden with the highest score 0.85, Denmark, Iceland and the Republic of Korea lead the way in the top four positions.

The DAI combines eight variables, covering five areas, to provide an overall country score. The areas are availability of infrastructure, affordability of access, educational level, quality of ICT services, and internet usage. It excludes variables subject to qualitative judgment such as the regulatory environment.

ITU believes that its DAI will be a useful tool for tracking the future advancement of emerging economies. The report highlighted, that as more local content and services developed, especially in the developing nations, English or the developed nations were not the deciding factors..

"Until now, limited infrastructure has often been regarded as the main barrier to bridging the digital divide. Our research, however, suggests that affordability and education are equally important factors. Market structure and degree of competition are open to levels of interpretation. We purposely excluded qualitative factors - to avoid subjective bias in the calculation," says Michael Minges of the market, economics and finance unit at ITU and author of the report.

The complete report provides an overview of indicators used to measure access to the information society; looks at take-up of information technology in business, education and government; and examines the role between ICTs and the UN Millennium Development goals.

The DAI forms part of the ITU's upcoming 2003 edition of the 'World Telecommunication Development Report (WTDR)' which is expected to be released at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in December this year. According to ITU, many countries have used ICTs as a development enabler for government policies.

Cited in the report are major ICT projects such as the Dubai Internet City in the United Arab Emirates (the highest ranked country from the Middle East), the Multimedia Super Corridor in Malaysia (the highest ranked developing Asian nation) and the Cyber City in Mauritius (highest ranked African nation).

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