The Network Readiness Index (NRI) 2022 released recently ranks Tanzania 6th in digital readiness in Africa and 22nd in the world among the surveyed lower middle-income economies.
“Among the upper middle-income group, Brazil and Jamaica over-perform in three of the four categories. Kenya, Senegal, the United Republic of Tanzania, Pakistan and Zimbabwe also exceeded expectations among the lower middle-income economies,” reads part of the NRI 2022 report.
It says that an economy is identified as displaying outstanding performance when its pillar score is at least 10 per cent above the trendline generated across all economies for that particular pillar. The economies are grouped according to the World Bank Income Classifications of July 1, 2022.
Among the lower middle-income economies in Africa, Tanzania is preceded by Kenya (1), Cape Verde (Cabo Verde) (2), Senegal (3), Côte d’Ivoire (4) and Ghana (5).
It shows outstanding performance in the following three of the four pillars: Technology, People and Governance. Top performers, says the report, generally demonstrate strength in all components (dimensions or pillars) of digital readiness, namely: Technology, People, Governance and Impact.
The NRI was first published in 2002 by the World Economic Forum (WEF) as part of the Global Information Technology Report among various components of digital readiness indicators. It is now a publication of the Portulans Institute in partnership with Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.
This is the fourth edition of a renewed NRI model and ranks the surveyed economies based on their performance across 58 digital readiness indicators.
This year’s theme “Stepping into the new digital era: How and why digital natives will shape the world” seeks to examine the role of young people in the process of digital transformation and provides a first glance at some of its key trends and patterns.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, “a digital native is a person born or brought up during the age of digital technology and so familiar with computers and the internet from an early age”.
“Of the 131 countries covered in the 2022 index, 49 are high-income economies, 32 are upper middle-income countries, 36 are lower middle-income countries, and 14 are low-income countries.
In terms of regional distribution, there are 31 African countries, 12 Arab States, 21 economies are from Asia and the Pacific, six are from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), 41 are European countries and 20 countries are from the Americas,” reads part of the NRI 2022 report.
It stresses that a multidimensional approach towards digital readiness plays a key role in achieving successful NRI performance. It also shows a broad range of approaches economies can take to strengthen digital strategies and design policies that lead to a faster pace of digital development.
The fourth industrial revolution (4IR) era brings with it many opportunities and challenges and each country has to utilise those opportunities and address the challenges to keep abreast of the rapidly changing world in the 4IR era, which creates new jobs, skills and competencies. Young people are required to acquire 4IR skills and competencies and thus become digital natives.
Dr Soumitra Dutta and Prof Bruno Lanvin, the authors of the NRI 2022, in their preface of the report suggest that “Digital natives are the generation that will soon dominate the workforce and that is why businesses and policy-makers need to anticipate and address their needs, habits and beliefs.”
They further suggest that “the accelerated digitalisation of our societies has greater benefit to digital natives than to older generations. However, we are yet to fully understand how and why digital natives will shape the process of digital transformation, with what goal and purpose they will do so and whether they are ready to do so.”
According to the NRI 2022 report, more than 5 billion consumers interact with data on a daily basis and by 2025, that number will likely be 6 billion, encompassing 75 per cent of the world’s population.
“Every day, YouTube users upload 82.2 years’ worth of videos – that’s 500 hours per minute – while WhatsApp transmits 65 billion messages. In 2025, each connected person will be expected to take part in one data interaction every 18 seconds. It’s not just about human users: Many of these interactions are initiated by the billions of Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices connected across the globe. Jointly, they are projected to create over 90 zettabytes (ZB) of data in 2025.”
It is from this perspective that each of the surveyed countries should evaluate their readiness to embrace 4IR technologies otherwise they are going to put themselves out of the operating digital system of the 21st century which will cost them dearly.
“Technologies and ways of working will continue seeing cumulative innovations in the coming years. By 2025, it is estimated that 50 per cent of all employees will need reskilling due to the adoption of new technologies. Furthermore, a third of these essential skills will consist of technical competencies not yet regarded as crucial to today’s job requirements. Thus, the process of learning and its intended objectives will continue to evolve, becoming an essential dimension in the lives of digital natives,” the report says.
The authors suggest that higher education institutions, non-traditional programmes and employers must commit to making opportunities for reskilling and upskilling accessible, available and affordable. They stress that giving all people requisite opportunities to develop requisite skills to fully participate in the future workplace will contribute to more inclusive and sustainable economies and societies.