Report cites Ethiopia’s ICT sector as among world’s worst


Ethiopia has a lot of work ahead if it hopes to catch up with the benefits the rest of the world enjoys from the World Wide Web. A newly released report ranks Ethiopia 130th out of 148 countries in terms of networked readiness.
The Network Readiness Index (NRI) is an annual report that comes out every year from the World Economic Forum. It measures the tendency for countries to exploit the opportunities offered by information and communications technology (ICT).
The NRI seeks to better understand how ICT impacts a nation’s competitiveness. The 2014 report indicates that sub-Saharan Africa is slowly continuing to develop its ICT infrastructure by expanding the number of Internet users and the number of people with access to mobile phones in areas with network coverage. But despite the progress the report argues that the region continues to suffer from poor ICT infrastructure which hinders access, although, it points out, there are exceptions to this rule.
“More importantly, severe weaknesses persist in the region’s business and innovation ecosystems, which result in very low positive economic and social impacts,” it reads.
The Networked Readiness Index has four major criteria for measurement; environment for ICT; the readiness of a society to use ICT; the actual usage of all main stakeholders; and, finally, the impacts that ICT generates in the economy and  society.
Environment sub-index:
A supportive ICT environment will make a nation more competitive and increase well being because it will increase the impact of the technology, according to the report. In determining how supportive an environment is, the report looks at how friendly a country’s market and regulatory framework is toward ICT. The capacity of uploading a lot of ICT bandwidth and conditions favorable for innovation and entrepreneurship using technology, are major factors considered.
The environment is affected primarily by regulations in the public sector and innovation in the private sector. For example how easy it is to conduct business, conditions that allow for creativity and innovation and entrepreneurship, the various types of technology available, the demand for new technological products and the presence of skilled labor, are ways the public sector affects the ICT environment. The national legal framework that facilitates ICT penetration and the safe development of business activities are ways that politics factors into ICT development. In assessing how friendly the Environment is to ICT. Ethiopia comes in 112th.
Readiness sub-index
Yet in terms of the readiness sub-index, it is even worse, as Ethiopia is ranked 135th. Just how ready a society is to take advantage of affordable ICT and digital content, depends on how good the infrastructure is, the type of digital content available, the expense, and how skilled the population is. The report assessed infrastructure like mobile network coverage, Internet bandwidth and secure Internet servers, among others.  It looked at the cost of accessing ICT either through mobile telephones or fixed broadband Internet as well as the level of competition in the communication sector, which of course, affects the cost. It also looked at how able a society is to effectively use ICT through
basic educational skills, the quality of the educational system, the level of adult literacy, and the rate of secondary education enrollment.
Usage sub-index
Ethiopia does only slightly better in the next sub-index, coming in an anemic 130th.  
The usage sub-index looks at the efforts of individuals, businesses and government, to increase their capacity to use ICT as well as their actual use in their day-to-day activities.
The number of mobile phone subscriptions how many people are using the Internet, or how many homes have access to it getting the connection through broadband or wireless or even own a personal computer all factor into the strength of individual usage.
In a similar manner how much business invests in ICT and how strong an effort the firms make to use it to increase productivity and earn more money, play a role in how much business is utilizing ICT. If staff are better trained management and employees are more likely to come up with creative ways to use the new technology to grow their business.
Government influences ICT use here as well depending on how strongly they feel access to ICT will make their nation more competitive and enhance the well-being of their citizens. The effort they make to implement their vision for ICT development and the number of government services they provide online are ways the public sector’s role in measured.
Impact sub-index
Ethiopia does slightly better in terms of the broad economic and social impacts from ICT that increase competitiveness and well-being and reflect the transformation toward an ICT- and technology-savvy economy and society. Here Ethiopia places 112. As governments become more efficient in their use of ICTs and begin providing increased online services to their citizens which improves their  e-participation, their ranking increases because it means they are shifting their economy towards more knowledge intensive activities.