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Emerging Countries and the Emerging Internet Economy

- April 27, 2011 - 1 Comment

The recent Global Information Technology Report (GITR) from the World Economic Forum highlights the role that ICT plays as an enabler of economic, environmental and social development today. The Networked Readiness Index in the report also showed that developing countries led by China and Brazil are catching up in terms of technology adoption.

There’s another aspect to the report that bears mentioning, and that is the rising importance and shifting composition of the Internet Economy, in chapter 1.2, and authored by Cisco’s Enrique Rueda-Sabater and John Garrity. Cisco has supported and made contributions to the GITR for most of its 10 years of existence and has used the Networked Readiness Index in many discussions around the world on the potential for networks to contribute to economic and social progress.


Rueda-Sabater and Garrity suggest that we will only see the full potential of the Internet in the next 10 years. Whereas the developed world have been able to benefit from the productivity unleashed by the Internet for the past 15 years, the decade of the 2010s will see this develop into a truly global phenomenon, as broadband networks proliferate and more people go online.

They observe that developing countries are starting to play a bigger role in the global Internet Economy. Fifteen years ago, their contribution was virtually nil. In 2000, it was approximately 6 per cent, rising to 15 per cent in 2005 and 30 per cent today. By 2020, their projection is that emerging countries will make up half of the global Internet Economy.

Why is this important? If you think the technologies and tools we have at our disposal are impressive today, imagine the kind of creative and innovative forces that will be unleashed with a user base that is double or triple what we have today, globally.

Rueda-Sabater and Garrity propose that this will trigger massive implications for productivity and create opportunities for individuals, organizations and countries. We are at an inflection point and those who recognize it early enough and take the necessary steps to harness this power will benefit the greatest.

While the direction is clear—the Internet will continue to grow and generate economic and social benefits—the path has much uncertainty.  To explore this, Cisco has developed a set of scenarios for the Internet in 2025 that are referred to in the GITR chapter and can be found here.

Rueda-Sabater explains those scenarios and Cisco’s work on the evolving Internet in this video.


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  1. It is true that it is very difficult to predict the path the internet and the internet technologies will take during the next a couple of years.... especially on the global scale with emerging economies. Having said that, I think there are some trends emerging. One of them is use of cell phones in the developing world. I can't imagine African countries will have the same computer penetration as let's say the U.S. However, I can see how mobile phone with internet browsing capabilities will become quite ubiquitous in places like Africa and remote parts of Asia.