Goodbye Global Digital Divide?

The World Wide Web may finally be living up to its name.

According to the sixth annual “E-readiness Rankings” of the world’s largest economies, published by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), using a model developed together with the IBM Institute for Business Value, with over 1 billion Internet users and 2 billion mobile-phone users worldwide, the world is more e-ready than ever.


The EIU describes a country’s e-readiness as a comprehensive measure of its overall e-business environment, including the potential for Internet-based business.

“Economic progress is increasingly dependent on innovations in the use of technology,” said George Pohle of IBM.

Most of the top countries in this year’s e-readiness rankings saw little movement between them from 2005 to 2006. West European countries took six of the top ten spots. Three of those countries, Denmark in 1st place, Sweden in 4th and Finland in 7th, remain best in class in key areas of connectivity, such as mobile penetration and Internet use.

The US, Australia, Canada and Hong Kong took the other top ten slots.

Among the biggest gainers in 2006 were Australia (8th), Canada (9th) – which broke into the top ten for the first time – Lithuania (38th) and, at the lower end of the scale, Algeria (63rd).

While the least e-ready country covered in the study was Azerbaijan, scoring only 2.9, virtually all countries in the 2006 e-readiness rankings improved their scores this year. Moreover, the improvement was greater in the lower tiers of the rankings than at the top, signaling a decline in the distance separating the best from the rest.

“This is the first time we see a level playing field between developed and developing nations in terms of connectivity,” IBM’s Peter Korsten told Reuters.

“The digital divide no longer looks quite the chasm many people once feared,” added Daniel Franklin of the EIU.

About eMarketer

By gathering the latest research and news from over 1,000 sources, eMarketer has established itself as the world’s leading provider of internet and e-business statistics. eMarketer’s Web site is at