(MENAFN - Jordan Times) Jordan ranked 47th in this year's Networked Readiness Index, which measures the degree to which economies across the world leverage ICT for enhanced competitiveness, improving by three places since last year.
The Kingdom came sixth among Arab states and was preceded by Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman respectively, according to the World Economic Forum's Global Information Technology Report 2012: Living in a Hyperconnected World, released on Sunday.
The report, which covered 142 countries, indicated that Jordan leads the ICT race by far among the Levantine states, ranking ahead of Lebanon, Syria and other Arab countries.
But it noted that Jordan still needs to work on improving its ICT infrastructure, especially in terms of gaining access to a wider international Internet bandwidth.
However, it commended the strong commitment of the government to focus on ICT, adding that Jordan has managed to liberalise its markets, provide affordable access to ICT services, and improve its business and innovation environment, although some weaknesses remain.
Commenting on the report, Abed Shamlawi, CEO of the ICT Association of Jordan (int@j), which represents about 450 ICT companies, said the improvement is a positive sign, but more work is needed to improve Jordan's position.
"The government should work on integrating ICT in other sectors to enhance the competitiveness of the national economy," he told The Jordan Times on Sunday.
The ICT sector currently contributes about 14 per cent to the country's gross domestic product annually, Shamlawi said, adding that ICT integration in other economic sectors is "very weak".
"If ICT is integrated in the sectors of health, education, commerce and industry, productivity will increase as well as Jordan's competitiveness. We are still lagging behind in this regard and more work should be done," he said, pointing out that ICT's contribution to the economy could be increased to 30 per cent annually if technology were integrated in other economic sectors.
The government said on Sunday that a lack of financial resources is the main reason behind the delay in implementing several ICT-related projects that would enhance the Kingdom's ICT infrastructure and services.
"The ranking for this year is good, but we would have scored better if we had implemented major infrastructure projects in the ICT sector," Haitham Qaisi, spokesperson for the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology, told The Jordan Times.
The report, prepared in collaboration with INSEAD Business School, indicated that Jordan ranked 79th in terms of infrastructure and digital content, 9th in terms of making ICT affordable and 49th in efficiency of legal frameworks for the private sector in settling disputes.
The Kingdom ranked 47th in government prioritisation of ICT, 40th in intellectual property protection, 49th in software piracy rates, 42nd in availability of the latest technologies and 58th in political and regulatory environment.
In addition, the country ranked 70th in secure Internet servers, 53rd in time required to start a business, 34th in terms of intensity of local competition, 70th in government procurement of advanced technology products and 49th in terms of mobile network coverage percentage.
Sweden, Singapore, Finland and Denmark topped the rankings, according to the report.