Most countries in Latin America are failing to exploit the potential of ICT to drive social and economic transformation, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report 2015.
According to the data from the report’s Networked Readiness Index (NRI), which measures 143 economies in terms of their growth in ICT infrastructure, Latin America has to go a long way to catch up with the advanced world.
Overall, though, trends are encouraging: 14 of the 23 countries in the region have increased their score since last year; 19 of them have done so since 2012. Chile (38th) leads the region, almost 100 places ahead of Haiti (137th), the worst performer in Latin America and the Caribbean.
In particular, Costa Rica (49th, up nine since 2012), Panama (51st, up six), Peru (90th, up 16), and Bolivia (111th, up 16) have posted some of the largest score gains.
Argentina has moved up nine positions to reach 91st place in this edition, its best performance since 2012. The South American country’s Internet bandwidth capacity doubled in 2013, thanks to a new submarine cable connecting Argentina with Uruguay and Brazil.
Topping the index is Singapore. The United States (7th) and Japan are the only non-European countries among the top 10 nations on the Index.
The report praises El Salvador, which climbed 23 positions to be ranked 80th on the index.
“The digital divide across nations is increasing and this is of great concern, given the relentless pace of technological development. Less developed nations risk being left further behind and concrete actions are needed urgently to address this,” said Soumitra Dutta, Anne and Elmer Lindseth Dean at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University and co-editor of the report.
Although Mexico is ranked 69th, up from 79th, the report notes problems with the country’s business and innovation environment and its overall regulatory framework. The country’s capacity to leverage ICT, according to the report, is limited by the level of education of the population.
“ICT uptake among businesses and the population at large remains very low, not only in global comparison but even within the region, which is known for its low level of ICT adoption,” the report states.
Although Argentina’s ICT infrastructure is improving, the report expresses concern with the country’s dismal political and regulatory framework.
“In particular, Argentina’s judicial system performs badly both in terms of independence (126th) and efficiency (142nd out of 143 when it comes to challenging government regulations). Intellectual property protection is poor (135th) and venture capital scarce (137th).”