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GCC countries lag behind global peers in digitisation efforts

UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia stall in Huawei's Global Connectivity Index in 2016

GCC countries lag behind global peers in digitisation efforts
Nashwan notes the strong correlation between strong ICT investment and GDP growth, as highlighted in the Index.

UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia rank among ‘Adopter’ economies in terms of connectivity, according to the Huawei’s Global Connectivity Index (GCI) 2017.

Of the 50 countries that were analysed, 16 countries-mainly in Europe, North America and North East Asia-are considered Frontrunners, 21 are Adopters, while the remaining 13 are Starters.

These clusters reflect the nations’ progress in digital transformation. Frontrunners (with an average GDP per capita of US$50,000) are mostly developed economies, continually boosting digital user experience, using big data and IoT to develop more intelligent, efficient societies. Adopters (average GDP per capita of US$15,000) are focused on increasing ICT demand to facilitate industry digitisation and high-quality economic growth. Starters (average GDP capita of US$3,000) are in the early stage of ICT infrastructure build-out, and focus on increasing ICT supply to give more people access to the digital world.

The GCI 2017, shared by Huawei at the SAMENA Telecom Leaders’ Summit 2017, is the fourth annual study that compares how 50 countries are progressing in their digital transformation based on 40 unique indicators that cover five technology enablers: broadband, data centres, cloud, big data and Internet of Things. Investing in these five key technologies enables countries to digitise their economies. Through centralized planning, potential connectivity can be fully leveraged and ICT capabilities can support positive growth of national economies.

According to GCI 2017, global progress towards a digital economy is picking up pace, with the world's GCI score moving up four percentage points since 2015. The report also shows that ICT has become an engine of economic growth, with the 50 countries assessed by the GCI 2017 accounting for 90 percent of global GDP and 78 percent of the world’s population.

 “The GCI Report measures the relationship between ICT investment and GDP growth, and shows that every additional US$1 of ICT infrastructure investment made could bring a return of US$3 in GDP at present, US$3.70 in 2020 and the potential return increases to US$5 in 2025,” said Sami Nashwan, VP Strategy at Huawei Middle East. “While this presents a clear case for increasing investment in ICT, the report also reveals that countries who invest in ICT gain an accumulated advantage over time which has a multiplier effect and enables them to distance themselves ahead of competitors, and causing a widening of the digital divide to become a digital chasm.”

Organised by SAMENA Telecommunications Council and hosted by Huawei for the fourth consecutive year, this year’s theme “Aligning Visions to Meet the Demands of the Digital World” focuses on aligning stakeholders towards a common vision to enable a true, regional digital economy. Leaders at this year’s summit will discuss two key topics; how to effectively implement digital enablement for businesses and to create an ecosystem that delivers digital-services and is supported by an open, collaborative industry.

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