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Government Artificial Intelligence Readiness Index 2019: How Did Frontier Markets Perform?

The Government Artificial Intelligence (AI) Readiness Index, compiled by Oxford Insights and the International Development Research Centre, ranks the governments of 194 nations according to how prepared they are to utilise AI in the provision of public services.

According to global consulting firm PriceWaterhouseCooper, AI technologies are forecast to add an additional $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030, with $6.6 trillion to come from an increase in productivity and $9.1 trillion from consumption-side effects.

The score that Oxford Insights provides for each country comprises of 11 input metrics grouped under four high-level topics: governance; infrastructure and data; skills and education; and government public services.

On a global level, the top ranking countries (and their scores) were: Singapore (9.186), United Kingdom (9.069); Germany (8.81); United States of America (8.804); and Finland (8.772). The likes of India (7.515) and China (7.37) were ranked 17th and 20th respectively. The countries on the opposite end of the spectrum are: Somalia (0.168); North Korea (0.216); Eritrea (0.217); South Sudan (0.233); and Guinea-Bissau (0.265).

Highest Ranked Frontier Markets

FM Rank Rank (global) Country Score
1 23 Estonia 6.968
2 33 Latvia 6.548
3 37 Lithuania 6.288
4 38 Slovenia 6.232
5 43 Malta 5.961
6 45 Slovakia 5.923
7 47 Bulgaria 5.806
8 51 Argentina 5.684
9 52 Kenya 5.672
10 53 Cyprus 5.668

The Frontier Markets that achieved the highest scores were mainly found in Europe. In particular, the Baltic nations of Estonia (6.968), Latvia (6.548) and Lithuania (6.288) were the best performers in the index. In fact, these three countries (including Denmark, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and the Aland Islands) have recently announced a declaration of collaboration on AI in the region, aiming to improve skills development, access to data, transparent guidelines and reducing unnecessary regulation in the area. Estonia’s top position among Frontier Markets (as well as being ranked at an impressive place of 23rd globally) shouldn’t come as a surprise to many given the recent steps and achievements it has accomplished to embrace AI technologies.

Malta, which has earned the title of “Blockchain Island”, is the first jurisdiction in the world to provide legal certainty and regulatory bills in regards to Blockchain, recognising the long-term benefits of using this technology.

Only two non-European countries were in the Top 10 for Frontier Markets. Argentina was placed 51st overall, behind regional rivals Uruguay (35th), Chile (39th), Brazil (40th) and Colombia (44th). Despite no African country being ranked in the Top 50 positions, Kenya emerged as the most prepared African country in the Index after claiming the 52nd position in the table, ahead of the likes of South Africa (68th), Ghana (75th) and Nigeria (107th).

Lowest Ranked Frontier Markets

FM Rank Rank (global) Country Score
30 93 Tanzania 4.235
31 95 Bosnia and Herzegovina 4.183
32 100 Bahrain 3.962
33 103 Bangladesh 3.808
34 104 Côte d’Ivoire 3.807
35 105 Sri Lanka 3.795
36 107 Nigeria 3.612
37 112 Lebanon 3.487
38 123 Mongolia 3.008
39 124 Burkina Faso 2.859

Burkina Faso, Mongolia and Lebanon propped up the table after being allocated the lowest scores among Frontier Markets in the Index.

Burkina Faso, a member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), was the lowest among Frontier Markets due to poor scores in Government Data Capability, number of AI Startups and the Innovation Capability of the private sector.

Although Mongolia scored much better marks in these areas, questions around the country’s adherence to UN data protection and privacy laws have hindered the overall score.

Despite the potential launch of “e-cities” been touted to digitally and electronically transform Lebanon, many feel skeptical about the government’s willingness to go through with it on a national level and believe that individuals and private companies will be the main drivers behind “e-cities”, not the government. Some also believe that any boost in AI technologies will be heavily concentrated around Beirut, leaving rural areas behind.

Nigeria also featured among the worst performers and, according to Dr Jimson Olufuye the former President of African Information Communication Technology Alliance, the country may not be ready to fully embrace AI technology due to infrastructure and untapped opportunities in the ICT sector that the government is yet to utilise.

The full list for Frontier Markets can be found below:

FM Rank Rank (global) Country Score
1 23 Estonia 6.968
2 33 Latvia 6.548
3 37 Lithuania 6.288
4 38 Slovenia 6.232
5 43 Malta 5.961
6 45 Slovakia 5.923
7 47 Bulgaria 5.806
8 51 Argentina 5.684
9 52 Kenya 5.672
10 53 Cyprus 5.668
11 54 Tunisia 5.652
12 55 Romania 5.54
13 58 Serbia 5.364
14 59 Oman 5.321
15 60 Mauritius 5.318
16 61 Republic of North Macedonia 5.284
17 62 Croatia 5.273
18 63 Ukraine 5.266
19 65 Kazakhstan 5.236
20 69 Panama 5.136
21 70 Vietnam 5.081
22 72 Iran 5.049
23 73 Trinidad and Tobago 5.038
24 74 Jordan 4.927
25 75 Ghana 4.888
26 79 Kuwait 4.725
27 80 Morocco 4.717
28 87 Jamaica 4.476
29 93 Senegal 4.235
30 93 Tanzania 4.235
31 95 Bosnia and Herzegovina 4.183
32 100 Bahrain 3.962
33 103 Bangladesh 3.808
34 104 Côte d’Ivoire 3.807
35 105 Sri Lanka 3.795
36 107 Nigeria 3.612
37 112 Lebanon 3.487
38 123 Mongolia 3.008
39 124 Burkina Faso 2.859

The complete data set for all countries can be found here.

About James Eugene (103 Articles)
Interested in many (maybe too many) things. Football, Politics and Emerging & Frontier Markets, to name a few. Twitter: @James_Eugene

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