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Barbados ahead in ICT

Tony Best

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Barbados’ economy may be experiencing its roughest period in almost 20 years but it’s keeping pace with some of the world’s richest nations in adopting information and communication technology to improve global competitiveness.
According to the World Economic Forum, Barbados leads the Caribbean and Latin America as well as Africa and several European and Asian states in the international ICT race in a hyper-connected environment.
In its 2012 Global Information Technology Report, the forum ranked Barbados 35th among 142 countries, giving the English-speaking nation pride of place in the Caribbean and Latin America and elsewhere ahead of Chile, 39th; Brazil, 65th; South Africa, 72nd; Mexico, 91st; Peru, 106th; Venezuela, 107th; and Indonesia, 80th.
Among the English, French and Dutch-speaking nations and territories of the Caribbean, Barbados barely edged out Puerto Rico, 36th, but outdistanced Trinidad and Tobago, 60th; Jamaica, 74th; the Dominican Republic, 87th; Guyana, 90th; Belize, 119th;  and Haiti, 142nd.
No African or Eastern European country did as well as Barbados when it came to the availability of the latest technologies and the business and innovation climate.
The report, considered by many experts and executives to be the most comprehensive and widely respected international assessment of the preparedness of countries to leverage the networked economy, measures the record of countries in taking advantage of ICT to boost economic growth and social well-being.  
The ten nations with the best records were Sweden, Singapore, Finland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Norway, the United States, Canada and Britain.
Next were South Korea, 11th; Hong Kong, 13th; Germany, 16th; Australia, 17th; Japan, 18th; France 23rd; and Ireland 25th.
At the bottom were Lesotho, Madagascar, Burkina Faso, Swaziland, Burundi, Chad, Mauritania, Angola, Yemen and Haiti.
At the core of the assessment were Internet usage and people’s ability to use it effectively. The results of a survey of international organizations and 15 000 executives influenced the rankings.
Barbados’ educational system, its level of adult literacy, and the relatively strong skill base in the population allow it to use the technology effectively, said an expert.
Here are some of the report’s conclusions:
• China, 51st, and India, 69th, countries with the world’s largest populations, lag Barbados in networked readiness by wide margins.
• Russian Federation, 56th, Czech Republic, 42nd; Poland, 49th; Romania, 67th; and Eastern European countries don’t match Barbados’ standing.
• Brazil, which surpassed Britain recently as the world’s sixth-largest economy, didn’t measure up to Barbados nor indeed Trinidad and Tobago.
• Greece 59th, Spain 38th, and Italy 48th, members of the European Union suffering a mix of high unemployment, wide fiscal deficits and a mountain of debt have been unable to eliminate the technological readiness gap.