Singapore has become the most "networked-ready" country in Asia-Pacific, according to the Global Information Technology Report issued Tuesday by the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Singapore ranked second worldwide after the U.S. in the report, which ranks 102 countries and territories by how well prepared they are "to participate in and benefit from information and communication technology (ICT) developments."
Three components -- economic and regulatory environment, readiness and usage -- go into determining a country's overall readiness. These are further broken down into a total of 48 sub-categories including the market environment, infrastructure, education, cost of Internet and telephone access, and level of usage among consumers, business and government.
Singapore emerged just behind the U.S. in the overall rankings, and was ranked best in the world for government use of technology, overall infrastructure and affordability of telecommunications. The country's score was dragged down by individual consumers' relative lack of readiness to use ICT (22nd in the world) and actual use of ICT (18th).
Second in the region and ninth overall was Australia, which scored highly for its infrastructure (6th), business use of ICT (3rd) and individual readiness to use ICT (6th), but less well on actual usage by government (20th) and the market environment (21st), which includes factors such as the import/export environment, the skilled labor pool and availability of funding.
In 12th place overall, and third in Asia-Pacific, was Japan. Japan was marked down because of relatively poor infrastructure (ranked 21st in the world) and its political and regulatory environment, which was ranked 37th, behind such digital unknowns as Botswana and Gambia. Japanese business readiness to use ICT was highly rated (6th).
Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea were locked together in the next three places, although the ICT profiles of the three markets are very different.
Taiwan has excellent ICT market conditions (6th) and government use of ICT (6th), but relatively poor individual use of ICT (27th). Hong Kong has good political and regulatory environment (2nd, behind Finland), but a lack of readiness, particularly in the government (27th) and business (31st) sectors, to adopt ICT.
South Korea's infrastructure was highly rated (8th), but its overall score was held down by the political and regulatory environment (25th) and business readiness to adopt ICT (23rd). Readiness includes factors such as the presence of necessary skills to leverage ICT, plus access and affordability.
Seventh in Asia-Pacific, and 23rd in the world, came New Zealand. The country enjoys good infrastructure (8th in the world) and a good political and regulatory environment (12th) but its market environment (33rd) was ranked behind Tunisia, Chile and Latvia.
Malaysia ranked 26th in the world on the strength of its government's commitment to ICT. The government's readiness to use ICT (6th) and its actual use (7th) are in contrast to business readiness (38th) and individual readiness (47th).
The World Economic Forum's Global Information Technology Report can be found at: http://www.weforum.org