15 November 2022
Worldwide guide to most tech enabled countries puts USA at top of the table, with China, India, Brazil, and Kenya among fastest movers. European economies leave top positions to America and Asia as UK falls from the top 10 group
Results suggest post-COVID speed towards digital transformation is uneven, yet middle and lower-income economies seem to be recovering faster than more developed peers
Report delves into some of the factors behind how and why digital natives will shape our world and are helping outline a “New Digital Era”
The United States is leading the world when it comes to affordable and accessible technology that makes life easier for its people and improves its economy, closely followed by Singapore and Sweden, as set out in this year’s Network Readiness Index (NRI) Report.
First launched with the World Economic Forum in 2002, and redesigned in 2019, the NRI is an in-depth analysis of 131 countries’ performance across four dimensions of digital readiness – technology, people, governance, and impact – using 58 different indicators.
This year’s report, titled ‘Stepping into the new digital era: how and why digital natives will shape the world’, is published by the Portulans Institute and Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford. Highlights from the report include:
- The United Kingdom falls from the top 10 group for the first time since 2019, down to 12th, due in part to lower output in regulation and privacy protection
- Ukraine, 50th, comes out top among its middle to low-income peers due to especially high adoption of technology and strong investment, improving the connectivity of its citizens
- China – which entered the top 25 for the first time this year – and India are among the biggest movers, rising to 23rd and 61st, respectively, and showing a high concentration of AI talent and strong investment in technology
- Like China, Malaysia (36th) is closing in on the top performers with clear technology legislation and exports, plus robust cybersecurity
- Rwanda (101st) leads the low-income country category thanks to marked improvements in regulation and a legal framework for emerging technology.
Soumitra Dutta, co-founder and President of Portulans Institute, Dean of Oxford Saïd and co-author of the report, said:
“Gen-Z and millennials are digital natives who are pointing to the direction of our digital futures. The shape of business and society tomorrow is being influenced by digital technologies in ways that we are only starting to understand today. The NRI is a valuable tool that provides better metrics and insights into creating a safe, inclusive and trusted digital future for businesses and society.”
Bruno Lanvin, co-founder and Director of Portulans Institute, co-author of the report, said:
“This edition of the NRI focuses on the role of younger generations in leading us into the information age. Recent trends indicate that future-readiness will largely rely on three major currencies: data, talent and learning. On all those fronts, we are only seeing the beginning of what tomorrow will bring. The future is still very young, and we all have a role to play in shaping it into the future we want.”
Key findings from the report include:
- A Digital Tech “Dutch Disease” in the brewing? Consistently high-ranking economies like the Netherlands (first in 2021), Finland, Belgium, and the UK saw a drop in their 2022 rankings while maintaining their outputs at expected levels given their high degree of development
- With Sweden, The Netherlands, and Denmark losing traction, Europe yields its digital readiness drive to Israel, the USA, and a group of Asia & Pacific economies led by China, Singapore, Japan, and the Republic of Korea. These economies stand out as the biggest movers among the top 25 most network-ready economies in 2022
- Lower-middle and low-income economies appear to be bouncing back to performance levels of network readiness seen prior to the pandemic faster than high and upper-middle income group economies, as evidenced by digital transformation champions such as India, Kenya Philippines, Cote d’Ivoire and Ethiopia and Madagascar
- The digital divide between economies at different levels of development appears to be shrinking, most noticeably between the group of upper middle and lower middle-income group economies
- Many African economies are successfully creating opportunities to induce digital change at a faster pace than expected given their levels of development. Most of these economies perform above expectations in areas associated with government, technology, and people
The Network Readiness Index
Origins of the NRI: Initially launched in 2002 by the World Economic Forum, the NRI has been redesigned in 2019 by its founders and co-editors, Soumitra Dutta and Bruno Lanvin, to reflect how technology and people need to be integrated within an effective governance structure in order to have the right impact on our economy, society and the environment. This 2022 edition marks the fourth edition of the redesigned model of the NRI.
The NRI model recognises the pervasiveness of digital technologies in today’s networked world and therefore rests on four fundamental dimensions: Technology, People, Governance, and Impact. This holistic approach means that the NRI covers issues ranging from future technologies such as AI and Internet of Things (IoT) to the role of digital transformation in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
About the NRI: The 2022 NRI is the fourth edition of a renewed NRI model, and it ranks a total of 131 economies based on their performance across 58 variables.
About Portulans Institute (PI): Founded in 2019 by Soumitra Dutta and Bruno Lanvin, Portulans Institute is an independent nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute based in Washington DC. PI’s areas of expertise include technology competitiveness, innovation readiness, and global talent.
The Institute’s missions are:
- To develop cross-community knowledge and dialogue on how people, technology, and innovation contribute to sustainable and inclusive growth.
- To inform policymakers by producing independent, rigorous metrics and data-based research and training activities.
- To collaborate with private sector leaders in driving a business agenda that invests in people, technology, and innovation for a prosperous common future.
- To host and co-organize events and conferences on the above issues affecting human-centric sustainable economic prosperity.
Learn more at https://portulansinstitute.org/.
About Oxford Saïd Business School: Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford blends the best of new and old. We are a vibrant and innovative business school, but deeply embedded in a 900-year-old world-class university. We create programmes and ideas that have global impact. We educate people for successful business careers, and as a community seek to tackle world-scale problems. We deliver cutting-edge programmes and ground-breaking research that transform individuals, organisations, business practice, and society. We are a world-class business school community, embedded in a world-class University, tackling world-scale problems. www.sbs.ox.ac.uk
Contacts for Press:
Portulans Institute: firstname.lastname@example.org
Oxford Saïd Business School: email@example.com
NRI 2022: results analysis & league tables
The most network-ready societies
The United States, Singapore and Sweden are the most network-ready societies, according to the Network Readiness Index (NRI) 2022 report. The highest-ranked economies perform consistently across all dimensions of network readiness, and commit to ensuring that technologies are accessible, affordable, and beneficial for the economy and society at large. By taking the lead on implementing regulatory frameworks, adopting new technologies such as AI, robotics, Internet of Things, top mobile network connectivity, and investing in educational opportunities, these economies have an edge above the rest. Increasingly important is their focus on expanding Internet access in schools and promoting ICT skills in the education system.
The global leaders
The United States remains the undisputed global leader when it comes to Technology, ranking in the top 5 in all sub-pillars (Access, Content, Future Technologies). China, the only middle-income economy in the NRI top 25 rankings, is also one of the world’s leading players in key fields such as artificial intelligence, e-commerce, high-tech exports, and education quality. The Republic of Korea leads in People, supported by its high levels of digital technology adoption by businesses, individuals, and governments. Northern European economies like Norway, Denmark, and Finland continue to dominate in Governance, while Sweden and Singapore demonstrate positive Impact of technologies on their economies and societies.
Outstanding pillar performance among middle- and low-income economies
A select group of 44 middle- and low-income economies are performing above their expected levels of development in one or more dimensions. Most of these outstanding performers are lower middle-income economies and are predominantly located in Africa and the Asia & the Pacific regions. China, India, and Rwanda further distinguish themselves as the only countries to outperform in all four categories assessed by the NRI, while Brazil, Kenya, Viet Nam, Pakistan, and Ukraine also demonstrate comparative strengths in certain dimensions of network readiness.
Today, the results and rankings of the latest edition of the NRI were released by Portulans Institute, the Washington DC-based think tank which took over from the World Economic Forum in 2019 to publish the annual rankings assessing the network-readiness of economies around the world. This latest edition ranks a total of 131 economies based on their performance across 58 variables. The report’s title is ‘Stepping into the new digital era: How and why digital natives will shape the world?’ Its thematic chapter examines the role of younger generations in the process of digital transformation, and in shaping the digital future.
Top 10 countries
|Economy||NRI Rank||NRI Score||Technology||People||Governance||Impact|
This year we witnessed some substantial changes within the group of top 10 countries. The United States rises to the top of the rankings from last year’s position of 4th. Singapore experienced the most positive movement among the top 10 economies, moving up five positions from last year to secure the 2nd spot, while the Republic of Korea also made a significant leap this year from the 12th spot to the 9th. It is noteworthy that the top 10 performers are all high-income economies and do well across most pillar dimensions of NRI. Each of the top 10 countries achieves top 25 rankings across all four primary pillars (Technology, People, Governance, Impact). As for regional distribution, Singapore and Republic of Korea are the only top 10 countries located in Asia and the Pacific, and the United States is the only society located in the Americas. The remainder of the top 10 rankings consist of European countries.
Top 3 countries by income group (global ranks in parentheses)
|High Income Countries||Upper-Middle Income Countries||Lower-middle Income Countries||Low Income Countries|
|1. United States (1)||1. China (23)||1. Ukraine (50)||1. Rwanda (101)|
|2. Singapore (2)||2. Malaysia (36)||2. Indonesia (59)||2. Zambia (113)|
|3. Sweden (3)||3. Russian Federation (40)||3. India (61)||3. Uganda (116)|
Note: Global ranks in parentheses.
Top 3 countries by region (global ranks in parentheses)
|Africa||Arab States||Asia & Pacific||CIS||Europe||The Americas|
|1. South Africa (68)||1. United Arab Emirates (28)||1. Singapore (2)||1. Russian Federation (40)||1. Sweden (3)||1. United States (1)|
|2. Mauritius (72)||2. Saudi Arabia (35)||2. Korea, Rep. (9)||2. Kazakhstan (58)||2. Netherlands (4)||2. Canada (11)|
|3. Kenya (77)||3. Qatar (42)||3. Japan (13)||3. Armenia (64)||3. Switzerland (5)||3. Chile (43)|
Note: Global ranks in parentheses. CIS = Commonwealth of Independent States.
The top performances in the NRI 2022 demonstrate that advanced economies in Europe, the Americas, and Asia and the Pacific comprise the world’s most network-ready societies. More concretely, seventeen of the top 25 countries are in Europe (primarily Northern and Western Europe), six economies represent Asia & the Pacific (Singapore, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and China), and two are in North America (Canada and the United States).
The highest-ranked economies in Africa are South Africa (68th), Mauritius (72nd), and Kenya (77th). All three economies do well in the Governance pillar, with strong performances in trust, regulation, and inclusion. The region’s biggest mover is Cote d’Ivoire (99th), increasing its performance by nine rankings as compared to last year. Kenya rises seven rankings and claims a spot among the region’s top three performers. Rwanda (101st) distinguishes itself as an outperformer, displaying a degree of development above its income level in all of the four categories of the NRI. Most middle- and low-income economies in Africa outperform in the areas of government, technology, and people.
The most network-ready Arab states are the United Arab Emirates (28th), Saudi Arabia (35th), and Qatar (42nd). The UAE and Saudi Arabia benefit from highly digitally engaged governments and widespread use of ICTs by Individuals, while Qatar’s generous investments towards future technologies and ICT access help bolster its ability to adopt and benefit from digital advancements. Aside from the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, Egypt (73rd) also makes significant progress in the region, increasing its rank by four places. Jordan (70th), Morocco (79th), and Lebanon (91st) distinguish themselves as outperformers, performing above expectations given their income level in two out of four pillars, Technology and People, with the former as a common strength.
Asia & the Pacific
Singapore (2nd), the Republic of Korea (9th), and Japan (13th) lead the Asia and the Pacific region in network readiness. Korea remains a leader when it comes to ICT use by individuals and businesses, while Singapore maintains a strong performance in the Impact pillar. Japan demonstrates strength in People and earns a spot among the top three regional performers for the first time since 2019. China (23rd) is the only non-high-income economy that makes it into the top 25 group of the NRI 2022. China and India (61st) both distinguish themselves as outperformers, performing above expectations given their income level in all four pillars. The Philippines (71st) emerges as the region’s biggest mover, improving its performance by 12 rankings as compared to last year.
The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is led by the Russian Federation (40th), Kazakhstan (58th), and Armenia (64th). Both the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan demonstrate relatively high levels of ICT usage among individuals and solid e-commerce legislation, while Armenia benefits from low levels of income inequality and a relatively small gender gap in Internet usage. Aside from the Russian Federation and Armenia, Azerbaijan (74th) is the only other CIS economy to improve its ranking, increasing its performance by two places this year. Kyrgyzstan (95th) stands out in the region by displaying an above-expectations performance given its income level in two out of four pillars, Governance and Impact.
Europe maintains its leadership as the most network-ready region with a consistent performance across all four dimensions of the NRI. This year, Sweden (3rd), the Netherlands (4th), and Switzerland (5th) are Europe’s top performers. The former two economies, however, slip slightly in their rankings opening up the top positions to the US (1st) and Singapore (2nd). Sweden remains a global leader when it comes to creating positive societal impact, while the Netherlands and Switzerland stand out in their adoption and use of technology and the creation of digital content. In particular, Switzerland stands out as the only top 25 high-income economy in continental Europe that shows improved network readiness performance this year, moving one position up from its 2021 ranking. Israel (15th) is the region’s biggest mover, increasing its performance by seven places. Ukraine (50th) distinguishes itself as performing above expectations given its income level in three out of four NRI pillars – Technology, People, and Governance – and emerging as the top lower middle-income economy overall.
The leading country in the Americas is the United States (1st), followed by Canada (11th), and Chile (43rd). The United States moves up three rankings to earn the top spot in this year’s report, while also establishing itself as a global leader in technology due to its level of preparedness for the future of the network economy and new technology trends such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT). Canada demonstrates a strong performance when it comes to its digitally engaged government and high levels of trust, while Chile displays relatively balanced rankings across all four pillars. Brazil (44th) is undisputedly the region’s biggest mover, increasing its performance by rising eight spots in the rankings and, along with Jamaica (76th), performing above expectations given its income level in three out of four pillars – Technology, People, and Governance. The region displays the largest intra-region performance divide, with 32 rankings separating the second and third highest performers.
NRI 2022: analysis by country
2021 rank: 29th
2022 rank: 23rd
China is the only economy outside the high-income category to earn a ranking in the top quartile of the NRI 2022. China does exceedingly well in the aspects of technology adoption by Businesses (8th) and Individuals (5th), which is indicated by its strength in annual investment in telecommunication services, gross expenditure in R&B financed by business enterprise, and the number of active mobile broadband subscriptions. Indeed, China’s highest ranking is in the People dimension (8th), due to an active digital presence throughout society. This is demonstrated through its superior mobile broadband internet traffic within the country (1st), AI talent concentration (8th), and ICT skills in the education system (16th). In contrast, China’s weakest pillar is Governance (35th), which is impacted adversely by the state of Regulation (81st). Areas for improvement include bolstering the ICT regulatory environment (124th) and encouraging Privacy protection by law content (122nd).
- China, (as well as India and Rwanda) distinguish themselves overall and in their respective income groups as those economies which have over-performed across all four main categories of digital readiness.
- China, a top performer among the upper middle-income economies, emerges as the global leader in Access to digital technologies (1st).
- The top three upper middle-income economies are China (23rd), Malaysia (36th), and Russian Federation (40th).
The Russian Federation
2021 rank: 43rd
2022 rank: 40th
The Russian Federation demonstrates a solid performance across areas of Technology (35th), People (23rd), and Governance (43rd). The country’s most exemplary dimension is People, where its performance in the Individuals (4th) and Governments (31st) reflect high levels of publication and use of open data (19th) and knowledge-intensive employment (20th). Through providing Access (11th) to digital infrastructure, and widespread international Internet bandwidth (13th) it empowers Individuals (4th) with the ability to invest in the digital future through AI scientific publications (14th). Similarly, the Russian Federation holds high-levels of active mobile broadband subscribers (4th) and tertiary enrollment (15th), which contribute to a digital culture of technological literacy. Where the Russian Federation has the ability to improve mainly revolves around its regulatory practices (103rd in Regulation), by improving its ICT regulatory environment (126th), particularly privacy protection by law content (117th). Additionally, the Russian Federation has large scope of improvement when it comes to the Impact (69th) of digital technologies. This reveals that there is more to be done towards achieving SDG goals, namely SDG 5: Women’s economic opportunity (101st) and SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy (121st).
The United States
2021 rank: 4th
2022 rank: 1st
- The United States (1st) leads the region of the Americas, alongside Canada (11th) and Chile (43rd).
- The United States climbed three spots to displace the Netherlands in the top position, which had previously dominated the NRI rankings the previous year.
- The United States is the top-ranking economy in the Technology, further substantiated by top performance in high-quality digital Content (2nd) and investments in Future Technologies (1st).
The United States is at the forefront of the most network-ready societies in the NRI 2022. Its overall impressive performance is attributable to a comprehensive approach to investing in the pillars of Technology (1st) and People (2nd). Through the affordability of handset prices (1st), the United States is able to equip a larger number of users with the technology they need to be digitally literate. Additionally, the United States engages in high-levels of computer software spending (1st), and e-participation (1st), which combine to create an involved and accessible network of technology. The United States’ continuous leadership in the Technology (1st) domain is largely due to its stable investment in emerging technologies (1st) and adoption of emerging tech and telecommunication services (1st), providing users with access to an up-to-date digital infrastructure. These technologies are enhanced by a thriving regulatory environment when it comes to secure internet servers (2nd) and exceedingly effective cybersecurity (1st). On the contrary, the country’s NRI rating value could benefit from enhancing privacy protection by law content (61st) designed to protect Internet users’ privacy and data, and subsequently promote a more digitally engaged society.
2021 rank: 53rd
2022 rank: 50th
- Ukraine (50th) displays higher than expected levels of network readiness for its income level (lower middle-income group).
- The group of lower middle-income economies is led by Ukraine (50th), Indonesia (59th), and India (61st).
- Ukraine is the only lower middle-income economy that appears in the upper half of the NRI rankings.
Ukraine’s strongest showing is in the People dimension (37th), particularly when it comes to the adoption of digital technologies by Individuals (7th), where the economy benefits from high rates of adult literacy (1st) and tertiary education enrollment (18th). Improvements have been made in the Government sub-pillar (52nd), partly due to increased trust by initiatives like publication and use of open data (23rd) and government investment in emerging tech (45th). Ukraine also scores well in Technology (45th) adoption and investment, due to its international internet bandwidth (33rd) and FTTH/building Internet subscriptions (9th), improving the citizens’ ability to be connected. Its weakest dimension relates equally to Governance (57th) and Impact (57th) of digital technologies. Improving cybersecurity (84th) as well as the ICT regulatory environment (82nd) could boost Ukraine’s performance in the areas of Trust (54th) and Regulation (84th).
2021 rank: 67th
2022 rank: 61st
- A group of middle-and low-income economies stand out as being highly efficient in one or more of the elements that lead to successful digital transformation. These economies – led by China, India, and Rwanda – are creating the necessary opportunities to induce faster paced change above their expected levels of development.
- The group of lower middle-income economies is led by Ukraine (50th), Indonesia (59th), and India (61st).
India’s progressive achievements are attributable to a consistently positive performance in Technology (56th), which is supported by high-quality digital Content (49th), high capacity international internet bandwidth (2nd) and FTTH/building Internet subscriptions (5th). India also stands out when it comes to the production of AI scientific publications (5th) and its large investments in emerging technologies (26th). The economy’s highest-ranking dimension, however, is People (46th), where high levels of Mobile broadband internet traffic within the country (2nd) and large Annual investment in telecommunication services (3rd) benefits citizens. The country also displays a notable concentration of AI talent (1st). India’s domestic market size (3rd) and high levels of ICT services exports (4th) strengthen its Economy (23rd) performance, where the country again ranks in top quartile. Similarly, the crossover between digitally engaged Governments (39th) and highly-skilled Individuals (30th) facilitates network readiness by providing technologies that serve the wider public. Meanwhile, the area with the greatest scope of improvement is Governance (83rd), where the Gender gap in Internet use (102nd) and low levels of Online access to financial accounts (117th) slightly offset its many positive outcomes. Additionally, Indial also displays low output when it comes to the Quality of Life (97th) and SDG Contribution (89th). Within these areas of improvement, India reflects a digitally engaged government but is relatively less effective at providing the aforementioned Online access to financial accounts (117th) and privacy protection by law content (92nd).
2021 rank: 101
2022 rank: 101
- The NRI 2022 results show that a group of 44 middle-and low-income economies stand out above their expected levels of development in one or more of the four pillar categories of digital readiness: technology, people, impact, and government. China, India, and Rwanda further distinguish themselves as the only countries to do so in all four categories.
- Rwanda (101st), Zambia (113th), and Uganda (116th) earn top performance scores for low-income economies.
Rwanda shows relative strength in Governance (84th) of digital technologies, due to its balanced performance across its three aspects: Trust 95th, Regulation 58th, Inclusion 89th). The country’s showings in Regulation (58th) improved notably due to be to a well-established ICT regulatory environment (61st) and enhanced overall regulatory quality (64th), particularly when it comes to the legal framework for emerging technologies (57th). However, improvements could be made with regards to privacy protection legislation, where Rwanda ranks 96th, possibly fostering trust and adoption of technologies from the side of individuals and businesses. Another relatively strong area for Rwanda is Future Technologies (65th) which is boosted by investments in emerging tech (42nd). Yet, the absence of information regarding robot density provides a partial assessment of this sub-category. Areas of opportunity are apparent in Technology (105th), with challenges regarding the lack of Internet domain registrations (120th), mobile tariffs (118th), and the price of handset devices (125th). Also, there is the possibility for improvement in People (105th), especially in the use of virtual social networks (125th), tertiary education enrolment (119th), and knowledge-intensive employment (117th).
2021 rank: 10
2022 rank: 12
The United Kingdom finds itself out of the top 10 for the first time since 2019. UK’s strongest dimension is Technology (10th), enabled by stable levels of Access (12th) to digital technologies, consistent creation of high-quality digital Content (11th) as well as strong investments and adoption of Future Technologies (14th). Within Technology, particularly strong performance is visible with regards to affordability of handsets (8th) and high levels of international internet bandwidth (6th), which make technology accessible across the whole country. The United Kingdom is one of the global leaders when it comes to Inclusion (2nd) of different groups of society in the digital economy, supported by strong showings in E-participation (6th) and low socioeconomic gap in use of digital payments (5th). With regards to the Governance (16th) of digital technologies, UK displays relative low results in Regulation (26th), particularly in privacy protection framework (86th), which counterbalances its otherwise strong performance in ICT regulatory environment (8th) and Cybersecurity (2nd). Some room for improvement can be seen within People (19th), where relatively strong performance by digitally-equipped governments (13th) and businesses (22nd) are affected by weaker showings from Individuals (61st). In this context, more can be done to increase AI talent concentration (27th), tertiary enrollment (42nd) as well as ICT skills in the education system (40th). Other potential improvements could be made in the area of technological Impact(4th), specifically with respect to quality of life (32nd), where the UK shows particularly low performance in freedom to make life choices (64th) and in income inequality (54th).
Caveats on the year-to-year comparison of rankings
The NRI compares the performance of national digital readiness across countries/economies and presents the changes in country/economy rankings over time.
It is important to note that scores and rankings are not directly comparable between one year and another. Each ranking reflects the relative position of a particular economy based on the conceptual framework, the data coverage and the sample of countries/economies of that specific NRI edition, and also reflects changes in the underlying indicators at source and in data availability.
A number of factors influence the year-on-year rankings of an economy:
- the actual performance of the economy in question;
- adjustments made to the NRI framework (changes in indicator composition and measurement revisions);
- data updates, the treatment of outliers and missing values; and
- the inclusion or exclusion of economies in the sample.
Additionally, the following characteristics complicate the time-series analysis based on simple NRI rankings or scores:
- Missing values: The NRI produces relative index scores, which means that a missing value for one economy affects the index score of other economies. Because the number of missing values decreases every year, this problem reduces over time.
- Reference year: The data underlying the NRI do not refer to a single year but to several years, depending on the latest available year for any given variable. In addition, the reference years for different variables are not the same for each economy, due to measures to limit the number of missing data points.
- Normalization factor: Most NRI variables are normalized using GDP, population, or other factor with the intention of enabling cross-economy comparability. However, this implies that year-on-year changes in individual indicators may be driven either by the variable (numerator) or by its normalization factor (denominator).
- Consistent data collection: Measuring the change in year-on-year performance relies on the consistent collection of data over time. Changes in the definition of variables or in the data collection process could create movements in the rankings that are unrelated to performance.
A detailed economy study based on the NRI database and the economy profile over time, along with analytical ground work that includes that of actors and decision-makers in the realm of digital transformation, yields the best results in terms of monitoring a country/economy’s network readiness as well as for identifying possible improvement channels.