2020 Edition of Network Readiness Index Report Reveals Most Future-Ready Societies

October 19, 2020

COVID is Accelerating Digital Transformation – Better Governance is Required to Avoid Global Disconnect

Monday, 19th October 2020

Today, Portulans Institute is hosting the event Building Forward Better: Network Readiness and Digital Transformation in a post-COVID World, in cooperation with UNESCO.

On the occasion, we will be presenting the results and rankings of the latest edition of the Network Readiness Index (NRI). The NRI assesses how prepared countries are to leverage information technology to be future-ready and competitive. The latest edition covers 134 economies, and focuses on digital transformation in a COVID-19 world.

Download this year’s report (“Accelerating Digital Transformation in a Post-COVID Global Economy”).


  • Sweden, Denmark, and Singapore are the most future-ready societies. With three countries in the global top four, Europe is the world’s leading region,
  • The United States remains the undisputed global leader when it comes to Future Technologies; indeed, it is ranked in the top 10 in each of the sub-pillar’s five indicators (claiming the top spot in two of them).
  • China is now a global contender in key areas such as AI, e-commerce, 5G.
  • Africa continues to trail behind other regions, especially when it comes to access, affordability, and usage of ICTs. Once the “ripple effect” of COVID starts to hit international trade and investment flows, such divergences between “network-ready economies” and “laggards” may be amplified.
  • In all types of economies, investments in technology alone cannot guarantee higher levels of network readiness. The ability of national economies to sustain efforts to allow reskilling and up-skilling of their local workforce and talents is key to their future. Recovery packages will have a key role to play.
  • COVID and lockdown strategies have accelerated digital transformation. This creates both opportunities and challenges, such as possible increases in inequalities. Appropriate governance mechanisms are required to mitigate the matter without hindering the former.

Professor Soumitra Dutta, President, and Co-Founder of the Portulans Institute and co-author of the report, emphasized that “the main concept underlying the new NRI model is that our collective future will require a harmonious integration of people and technology. People and technology will increasingly interact as collaborators and partners in most parts of society and business. To ensure the effectiveness of this integration, appropriate governance mechanisms will have to be implemented to address issues related to trust, security, and inclusion.”

Before the pandemic, the main elements of a global digital transformation were already in place, both within nations and within enterprises. According to Dr Bruno Lanvin, Director and Co-Founder of the Portulans Institute and another co-author of the report, the crisis “showed how digital technologies could help us be better organized and resilient when facing unprecedented challenges. However, the economic and social crisis that will follow has hardly started to be felt. To face the threats of massive unemployment and growing inequalities, digital transformation is now an urgent obligation.”

Commenting on Sweden’s top rankings, Mr Anders Ygeman, Minister for Energy and Digital Development, said that “Sweden aims to be the leader of harnessing the benefits of digitalization. The NRI is proof we are on the right way. That said, there is still much work to do. For example, we have to strengthen our efforts to make our public data available.”

Although there were some ranking changes within the group, the countries in the NRI 2020 top 10 remain the same from last year’s edition. All of the top 10 economies are high-income economies; eight countries are European, while Singapore is the only top 10 economy situated in Asia and the Pacific, and the United States is the only one located in the Americas. One distinguishing feature of the top 10 performers is that they do well in most dimensions of the NRI. Indeed, they are all among the 15 highest-ranked countries in each of the four pillars (Technology, People, Governance and Impact) and perform equally well in at least two-thirds of the 12 sub-pillars. 17 of the top 25 countries are in Europe (primarily Northern and Western Europe), four economies are in Eastern and South-eastern Asia, two are in Oceania (Australia and New Zealand), and two are in Northern America (Canada and the United States).

This year, our Knowledge Partner for the NRI is STL, an industry-leading integrator of digital networks. CEO Dr Anand Agarwal commented, “We believe that great digital networks are the core platforms for better human collaboration and a better world. The Network Readiness Index is a powerful tool to help companies and nations transform digitally. Digital Network Integrators like STL, are working diligently towards our responsibility to make networks efficient and affordable.”

To hear from global thought leaders and learn more about network readiness and the regional impacts of digital transformation, join Portulans Institute’s regional spotlight events, in cooperation with UNESCO and regional partners, including ICANN, UNECA, NIC.Br, American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt and American University in Cairo.

Portulans Institute’s CEO, Carolina Rossini commented: “At Portulans, we are proud to produce a solid and respected index that can support economies around the world to self-assess and develop a path forward with data-base policy making and interventions for a better future, with the Sustainable Development Goals in mind. We are thankful to our event partners to understand the relevance of the discussion in a moment when we cannot afford to leave people behind.”

For further conversations, visit our Dialogue on Digital Transformation series, featuring interviews with global thought leaders addressing digital transformation, talent, competitiveness, sustainable development and building forward better.

Join the conversation at #NRI2020 on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, and find our Social Media Kit here with further information and post templates.

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