ITU says Korea tops in the world’s most advanced ICT economy

Telecom Lead Asia: ITU’s Measuring the Information Society 2012 report has ranked the Republic of Korea as the world’s most advanced ICT economy, followed by Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Finland.

Of the 10 top-ranked countries, eight are from Europe. The two remaining countries both come from the Asia Pacific region, with the Republic of Korea in first place, and Japan ranked 8th. The top five countries have not changed their rank between 2010 and 2011. The only new entrant in the top ten is the UK, which moved up from 14th place last year to 9th place in 2012.

The report showed that the ICT sector has become a major contributor to economic growth. In 2010, global exports of ICT goods accounted for 12 percent of world merchandise trade, and as much as 20 percent in developing countries.

ITU data revealed that global revenues from telecommunication services reached $1.5 trillion in 2010, corresponding to 2.4 percent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP). Capex in telecom touched more than $241 billion, or an estimated 2 percent of the world’s total gross fixed capital formation.

Between 2007 and 2010, both telecom revenues and investment continued to grow by 22 percent in developing countries, whereas revenues stagnated in developed countries. Developing countries are also increasingly attractive destinations for foreign direct investment (FDI) in telecommunications.

By beginning 2011, nine of the top 20 telecom markets globally in terms of revenues were developing country markets – including Brazil, China, India and Mexico – and developing countries accounted for 35 percent of world telecommunication revenue.

ITU said developing countries need a relatively higher level of investment in advanced ICT services to fuel growth, mainly because ICT infrastructure levels are still limited.

ITU’s ICT Development Index (IDI) ranks 155 countries according to their level of ICT access, use and skills, and compares 2010 and 2011 scores. All countries in the IDI top 30 are high-income countries, underlining the strong link between income and ICT progress.

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