The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, what with the lockdowns and travel bans, has manifested in no uncertain terms the significance of digitalisation processes. While the digital transformation of economies has been recognised as one of the cornerstones of sustainable development for some time now, it was only last year when its importance for day-to-day functioning of societies became quite so obvious.
In the southern neighbourhood region, in many ways this has been a painful lesson to learn. Despite progress made over the past decade, digitalisation levels, as measured by the Network Readiness Index (NRI; Dutta & Lanvin [Eds.], 2020), have remained unsatisfactory in all countries in the European Union (EU)’s southern neighbourhood, with a notable exception of Israel, which – as an outlier – will not be covered in the present article. Ranked between 69th (Jordan) and 107th (Algeria) out of 134 countries surveyed, the states in the region are all positioned in the lower bottom of the NRI.
Their performance is not homogenous, however. For instance, while throughout the southern neighbourhood relatively best results can be observed in the ”People” pillar, in Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia it is predominantly due to relatively good performance in the “Government” sub-pillar, but in Jordan the highest rank was achieved in “Businesses” and in Lebanon in “Individuals”.