Ireland moves up information technology league


IRELAND ROSE to 18th from 26th place in a new index that measures the advancement of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in more than 150 countries worldwide, but dropped a place on ICT skill levels.

Overall, Ireland was one of five European countries that failed to make a top 10 that was all-European except for second-place South Korea, but it was one of 10 countries that had gained most in a five-year period. Sweden retained the number one spot.

Compiled by the International Telecommunication Union, the report compares progress made between 2002 and 2007 using subsets of research to produce an overall ICT development index to reflect a country’s achievements in fostering an inclusive information society. The research explores each country’s adoption of technology in terms of opportunity, infrastructure and utilisation. The ICT skills index was the only category where Ireland had failed to progress, slipping from 24th to 25th, a timely warning that the country’s aspirations to become a knowledge economy might need attending to at a grassroots level.

ICT skills are considered an important factor in the evolution towards an information society and countries like Greece, Slovenia, Denmark and New Zealand were singled out by the report for their achievements in making the top 10. The most spectacular drop in this category was the United Kingdom which had fallen from 10th position in 2002 to 28th in 2007.

Ireland’s biggest gain was in the technology usage category, climbing from 32nd to 19th. Though Ireland’s roll-out of broadband has been widely criticised it has evidently made an impact, giving more people access to the internet. The report said mobile broadband had also made a big impact in European countries. The proportion of households with PCs and fixed line penetration were cited as other factors that stimulate usage.

The price of technology was another consideration that has a bearing on ICT uptake and was an area where Ireland fared better than might have been expected. Ireland ranked 17th, one place ahead of the UK in the list of lowest mobile prices.