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Madagascar Appears on ICT Radar Screen

Our Relative Look at Tech Development Provides a Unique View

I read a story the other day about "the 10 poorest countries" in the world. The writer examined poverty statistics to determine this list. Some of the countries are known for terrible governments (eg, Zimbabwe), some had high per-person income levels - usually due to abundant mining -- but abysmal income disparities (eg, Burundi), while others (eg, Madagascar) were just poor through and through.

But there's always hope. Madagascar, for example, has landed on our radar screen in the Top 10 "raw" ranking among 22 African nations we've surveyed.

What does that mean?

We started our research at the Tau Institute with the struggles of developing countries - "the world's poorest" - in mind. How could we develop a truly relative ranking, one that shows which countries are doing the best with what they have? We've integrated several publicly available sources of information and adjusted them for local cost-of-living levels and income disparity to produce our ranking, known as the Tau Index.

Its purpose is to find the countries that are the most dynamic, ie, which have the most potential for continuous upward economic progress, regardless of where they stand today. It provides a unique view of technology-driven progress, whether you're looking at developed countries or developing nations across the entire spectrum of relative wealth. (I've written extensively on this topic - you can find my most recent articles at http://rogerstrukhoff.sys-con.com )

As far as the developing nations, we are in no way looking to sugarcoat the realities of living and doing business in the countries we're examining. I recently spent three years in a developing nation (the Philippines) and traveling in the region, and am often struck dumb when trying to explain the strengths, weaknesses, and contradictions I found there, as they appear to my American eyes. Within that context, our research teases out the more dynamic places in all parts of the world.

99 Countries Surveyed
We have an overall ranking of 99 countries at this point, and have broken the overall result into regional and income-tier groupings. We also have a "raw" ranking. The overall ranking integrates income levels, local cost of living, bandwidth measurements, and other publicly available socioeconomic measurements. The raw ranking focuses on the income and technology integration, leaving the socioeconomic factors aside.

Most "developmental" and "competitiveness" rankings and the like simply tell us what we already know, ie, rich countries are at the top, developing countries at the bottom. It's easy enough to draw a nice, smooth curve as incomes rise from less than $1,000 to more than $50,000 throughout the nations of the world. Measurements of health, infrastructure, technology development, etc. follow this curve faithfully.

But economic progress in this era of globalization and the Worldwide Web is a very odd thing. Ethiopia, for example, has the lowest income (at $374). It does not score well overall, or in our regional or tiered rankings.

Yet the country's national airline, Ethiopian Airlines, is Africa's second largest, is the first outside of Japan to buy the new Boeing 787, and is working to establish the nation's capital, Addis Ababa, as a major regional hub. Looking at our numbers, we find that Ethiopia does score relatively well in the raw rankings, placing 4th among 22 African countries we've surveyed.

Back to Madagascar: it ranks 7th on that particular list, three notches behind Ethiopia but two notches ahead of Egypt. In our overall rankings, Madagascar is a more modest 13th among the 22 African nations, and 82nd overall out of 99 countries surveyed. Compare this to Egypt's 8th place in Africa and 65th overall.

As I've stated, our research is intended to start conversations, not finish them, so please contact me to learn more about what we're doing.

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More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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