The UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are among the top three developing countries in Huawei’s annual Global Connectivity Index report which was revealed in Dubai on Thursday at the 2016 Samena Telecom Leaders’ Summit.
The UAE is ranked 19, followed by Qatar at 21 and Saudi Arabia at 28.
Huawei’s report measures how 50 nations (accounting for 90 per cent of global GDP [gross domestic product] and 78 per cent of the global population) are progressing with digital transformation using information and communications technology (ICT) across four dimensions — availability, bandwidth, affordability and ease of use.
Lin Yanqing, vice-president for Huawei Middle East, told Gulf News that the world connectivity is up by five per cent and all the countries are progressing on their digital transformation journeys but the rate of development is uneven, and some countries are falling behind.
According to Yanqing, the digital economy requires balanced development in supply, demand, experience, and potential. Countries with different levels of connectivity should have different development focuses.
He said that investing in broadband is the main requirement for industries to build a digital economy.
Developed economies concentrated on “accelerating downloads and cutting latency”. They also made headway in deploying cloud services, big data analytics, and the Internet of Things (IoT) — but not to the extent that can prevent “economic stagnancy” right now. Data is simply not creating the value it could.
“Emerging economies are focusing on broadband coverage, but they’re weak in cloud, big data, and IoT. This is hindering the productivity and scaling benefits of digitisation,” Yanqing said.
The three Gulf countries are well on their way to adopting a digital economy. Adopting nations ($15,000 per capita) see the biggest GDP growth from GCI (Global Connectivity Index). Their focus is on increasing ICT demand to facilitate industry digitisation and high-quality economic growth.
Overall, the 2016 GCI shows that 20 per cent growth in ICT investment will increase a country’s GDP by one per cent. It also identifies five enablers of digital transformation — data centres, cloud services, Big Data, broadband, and the Internet of Things.