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'Digital-enabling' countries proved more resilient to the Covid-19 economic shock

The US, Germany and Denmark once again make the top three of the 2020 Enabling Digitalization Index (based on data from end-2019).

The EDI measures the ability – and agility – of countries to help digital companies thrive and traditional businesses harness the digital dividend. It scores 115 countries based on five components: regulation, knowledge, connectivity, infrastructure and size. For 2020, the US leads by far due to its best-in-class knowledge ecosystem, competitive market size and favorable regulation. In fact, its connectivity score has increased by +1.8 points after a +5.1 point increase in 2018 (see Appendix 1). Meanwhile, Germany boasts the best knowledge ecosystem and infrastructure for trade. It saw a moderate improvement in both the regulation and market size scores, but its connectivity quality has dropped relative to the rest of the world despite the continuing upwards trend in the number of secure servers. This is due to fewer mobile lines per 100 inhabitants and a slightly declining share of internet users. Denmark started 2020 as the best performer in terms of connectivity quality. Indeed, after tripling its number of secure servers in 2018, it has more than doubled it again to reach a higher number than China and Canada, and close to that of France (with a population of only 6 million).

China’s rise seems unstoppable. In the three years preceding the outbreak of Covid-19, China moved from rank 17 to rank 4. China has seen rising scores across the board: the country’s regulation score improved by +7.4 points after increasing by +15 points in 2018. The connectivity score also increased by +1.3 points. Lastly, the knowledge score rose by +12 points due to an increase in China’s innovation capability over 2019. Yet, the skills score did not follow the same pattern, highlighting that China still has leeway to boost the skills (especially digital skills) of its population. This would allow Chinese companies to appropriately tap its innovation potential.

Data also show that others in Asia made progress in the years preceding the Covid-19 crisis: Hong Kong, now at rank 7, previously 11. South Korea, at rank 12 up from rank 16.
Six out of the fifteen top digital enablers were in the Asia-Pacific region at the end of 2019. France had also advanced by two spots to rank 15, and Spain had gained 4 spots to rank 20. Other remarkable progressions include Vietnam from 67 to 57 and Saudi Arabia from 53 to 41, confirming a clear willingness to transition towards a new model of growth.

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