2021 Edition of the Network Readiness Index Launches Globally

December 2, 2021

Download the full report here

The latest results and rankings of the 2021 Network Readiness Index (NRI) were released today, revealing how countries around the world are leveraging information technologies to emerge from the COVID pandemic and become ‘network ready’. 

This year’s theme, Shaping the Global Recovery: How digital technologies can make the post-COVID world more equal, offers a review of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the pace and depth of digital transformation. The data from the NRI analysis examines how economies have dealt with and continue to fare in the face of present-day challenges. Promising initiatives are visible across several regions, including enhancements to the quality and timeliness of information and efforts to improve digital literacy and digital skills.

Key results 

This year’s rankings were presented by Soumtira Dutta, President of Portulans Institute and Co-founder and Co-editor of the report. 

The Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark are named as the top three most ‘network ready’ societies. This makes Europe (with eight countries in the global top ten) the best performing global region on the Index.

The US remains the global leader when it comes to technology; ranking in the top five in each of the Technology sub-pillars (Access, Content, Future Technologies). 

China, meanwhile, is a leading player in areas such as artificial intelligence, e-commerce and 5G, ranking 29th overall.

Among the world’s largest economies, India was notable for rising 21 places compared to last year’s ranking, rising to 67th. This performance, beyond technical aspects, captures India’s digital network accessibility, including the affordability of mobile devices and tariffs in the country.  

Africa continues to trail other regions, especially when it comes to access, affordability, and usage of ICTs. The pandemic has further amplified inequalities through recognizable social, economic and political changes, which became particularly evident in terms of vaccination and debt-financing.

Expert insights on NRI 2021

The presentation of rankings was followed by a video message from the Minister of Information and Communications Technology of Qatar, Mohammed bin Ali Al-Mannai, and a panel discussion moderated by Bruno Lanvin, Director of Portulans Institute and Co-editor and Co-founder of the NRI. Panelists included Ankit Agarwal: Managing Director, STL – Sterlite Technologies Limited; Dr. Hessa Al-Jaber: WHO/ITU Commission on Information and Accountability for Women and Children’s Health; Javier López Casarín: Federal Congressman, Chairman of the Committee on Science, Technology, and Innovation of the House of Representatives, Mexican Green Party; and Tawfik Jelassi: Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, UNESCO.

Ankit Agarwal, Managing Director of our Knowledge Partner STL, highlighted the rapid uptake and integration of digital technologies across the world. “The digital transformation trends we are seeing are global”, he stated. 

Speaking about the value of technology in enabling a more equal recovery, Congressman Javier López Casarín stated, “Technology and innovation are very powerful tools for building bridges over the digital gap. The NRI makes clear the windows of opportunity for Mexico”.

Dr. Hessa Al-Jaber brought to the discussion a unique perspective on the power of technology in the health sector. “Even in wealthy countries, nobody was prepared for the crisis. This is an opportunity for us to build up a more resilient health sector that is effectively able to adapt to dynamic situations, and reduce vulnerability.” 

Another key takeaway about digital transformation was highlighted by Tawfik Jelassi, who emphasized the need to “‘move forward’: measure digital transformation, open digital platforms, venture forward, and enhance digital skills and capacities at all levels”.

Portulans Institute extends a special thank you to all who attended the event, to our esteemed panelists, and to our Knowledge Partner STL. 


For more information, please visit the official NRI website at https://networkreadinessindex.org/

Join the conversation on Twitter and LinkedIn using the hashtag #NRI2021.

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