MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines jumped eight notches to 78th spot in the Networked Readiness Index 2014 of the World Economic Forum.
The Philippines had previously ranked 86th on the index for the past three years. The index, which covers 148 countries, assesses an economy's capacity to fully leverage information and communications technology (ICT) for growth and well-being.
The WEF Global Information Technology Report 2014 noted the significant improvement of the Philippines' ranking in the overall index, as well as among ASEAN countries.
"With a significant improvement in its overall score, the country continues its positive trend. The scores of all the 10 networked readiness pillars register an increase. A significant improvement in the perceived efficiency in the country’s legal system and property rights protection drive the political and regulatory environment up to 87th place," the report noted.
Another area where the Philippines showed significant improvement is ICT readiness, with "more affordable (75th) access to ICT infrastructure and better skills (69th), despite the need for higher quality in the educational system."
"Business usage is, as in many other Asian economies, at a more advanced stage (43rd) than individual usage (91st). Progress made in terms of economic impacts registered last year continues this year, moving up eight positions and reaching 48th place. The role of ICTs in fostering innovation by creating new products and services (42nd) and organizational models (28th) is confirmed and contributes to this promising result," the report noted.
However, the Philippines still lagged behind other ASEAN neighbors, such as Singapore (2nd), Malaysia (30th), Brunei Darussalam (45th), Indonesia (64th), and Thailand (67th), in the index.
The Philippines ranked ahead of Vietnam (84th), Cambodia (108th), Lao PDR (109th), and Myanmar (146th) in the index.
Makati Business Club executive director Peter Perfecto said the Philippines has competitive advantages in 11 out of the 54 indicators under the networked readiness index.
These 11 indicators are: availability of latest technologies, venture capital availability, quality of management schools, internet and telephony competition, quality of educational system, use of virtual social networks, firm-level technology absorption, capacity for innovation, extent of staff training, impact of ICTs on new services and products, and impact of ICTs on new organizational models.
Digital divide remains
The Global Information Technology Report 2014 noted that there is little progress in bridging the digital divide between tech-savvy countries and others.
Overall, Finland ranked 1st in the Networked Readiness Index, followed by Singapore (2nd), Sweden (3rd), Netherlands (4th), Norway (5th), Switzerland (6th), United States (7th), Hong Kong (8th), United Kingdom (9th) and South Korea (10th).
On the other hand, emerging economies such China (62nd), Brazil (69th), Mexico (79th) and India (83rd) registered a drop in the rankings, as they struggle to realize their full digital potential.
A key finding of the WEF report is that countries cannot rely only on ICT infrastructure development to become competitive. It noted that the benefits of ICT can be fully realized when a country "implements a holistic strategy aimed at creating conditions for skills, innovation and entrepreneurship to flourish alongside modern infrastructure."
"In addition to the persistent digital divide across countries, governments should also be wary of understanding, identifying and addressing potential internal digital divides so that new opportunities can be created for all and support enhanced social inclusion,” said Beñat Bilbao-Osorio, senior economist at the WEF's Global Competitiveness and Benchmarking Network and co-editor of the report.