|By Roger Strukhoff||
|October 21, 2012 09:47 PM EDT||
We've added Syria to the list of countries in our research at the Tau Institute, making it the 100th country included in our listings and rankings. The human tragedy there cannot be overstated, and this may seem a poor time to be discussing how its ICT infrastructure ranks among its peers and within the world.
To be sure, the political situation there is complex, involving a mix of religious and cultural traditions, geopolitical actors ranging from Russia and the US to Saudi Arabia and Iran, and no apparent or easy end to the current murderous madness.
But in my opinion I'm neither naïve nor obtuse in deciding to include Syria in our listings and rankings at this point. The relatively highly developed ICT infrastructures of Egypt and Tunisia, for example, played a role in the spread of the Arab Spring revolutions there. Libya's relatively undeveloped grid, on the other hand, was a factor in that country's traditional and confusing government overthrow, and the continuing foggy, chaotic violence there.
Our algorithms integrate a number of publicly available rankings, are adjusted for local cost of living, weighed in a nuanced way to reflect what we believe to be reality, and backed by real-world experience. What do they show for Syria?
The country does not score well, although it shows potential promise within its region. Syria finishes 94th among the 100 countries we survey. Very slow average bandwidth is its major problem, especially given it has an average income that's higher than many developing countries, a low cost of living, low levels of income disparity. It underperforms its overall development index (as measured by the UN), placing it 75th among the countries we survey.
Its overall Internet access is poor, and access to broadband is very poor. High levels of perceived corruption don't help.
However, Syria does move up to 45th in our "raw" rankings, which factors technology more highly into overall income and cost of living. Within its income tier - the fourth of five tiers - Syria finishes 19th out of 21 in the overall rankings among countries surveyed. (Jordan leads this tier.) It moves up to 14th among the 21 Tier 4 countries, in a tie with Sri Lanka.
In short, Syria has the economic potential to improve rapidly, in our view. Within the seven Middle East countries we survey, Syria places second in potential only to Jordan. Our hope is that technological development can continue here, even in the face of what appears to be all-out war.