The divide between the haves and the have nots is getting worse in this digital era, with emerging economies struggling to keep up with their developed world peers because of the rising cost of digital access. That’s according to a new report from the World Economic Forum, which found big developing countries including India and Mexico are seeing their rankings decline in the Global Information Technology Report, which looks at countries’ abilities to take advantage of the digital economy.
“The world is entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Processing and storage capacities are rising exponentially, and knowledge is becoming accessible to more people than ever before in human history,” said the researchers in the report. “The future holds an even higher potential for human development as the full effects of new technologies such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, 3-D Printing, energy storage, and quantum computing unfold.” While there is a lot of potential for countries to benefit from this digital age, a lot are at a disadvantage because of the costs associated with technology and internet access.
In order to gauge a country’s digital readiness the World Economic Forum looked at 53 different things, including regulation, the affordability of technology, infrastructure, and adoption of technology by the masses and the economic impact of technology. Based on the scoring, the World Economic Forum found the countries that made the top ten list in 2015 are still in it this year. Those countries include the U.S., Norway, Netherlands, Switzerland and Singapore.
But the same couldn’t be said of emerging countries that weren’t near the top ten or even 20. According to the report, China ranked 59, while Brazil ranked 72. Mexico declined to 76 while India landed at 91. In India’s case, the country’s poor ranking can be attributed to its expensive internet access and communications technology that makes it hard for its citizens to access it.
“Standing still means [these slipping countries] are, in relative terms, falling behind,” said Silja Baller, an economist with the World Economic Forum and an author of the report, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “Overall, the vast majority of countries are improving their scores.”