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Investment in ICT Could Add EUR 760 Billion to European Economy by 2020

22 сентября 2011

New research, commissioned by AT&T and conducted by Oxford Economics, finds that if Europe increases its investment in Information & Communication Technology (ICT) to match levels elsewhere in the world, it could reap hundreds of billions of Euros of additional GDP thanks to faster productivity growth.

ICT investment and productivity growth are closely linked, and European countries are lagging other parts of the world in both the report claims.

The research shows European GDP could grow by an additional EUR 760 billion, or an extra 5 percent above forecasts, if Europe matched total US ICT levels by 2020. This would be worth around EUR 1,500 per person at today's prices. ICT driven innovation would contribute approximately one third of that growth - 1.5 percent of GDP or around EUR 220 billion.

For some countries currently experiencing sluggish growth--for example, Spain and Italy--the impact on GDP could be over 7 percent, or EUR 100 and EUR 140 billion, respectively, at today's prices.

"Productivity is the cornerstone of economic growth. There is clear evidence that investing in technology can make European companies more productive and competitive, which is critical to growth in these tough financial times. This report helps us understand how technology drives productivity, and how to maximise returns from ICT investments," said Andrew Edison, Regional Vice President for EMEA, AT&T.

The key findings of the report are:

  • As a percentage of GDP, Europe's stock of ICT capital has fallen to around two-thirds of the level in the US, the world leader, having been close to parity in 1991.
  • This ICT investment gap has affected Europe's productivity growth significantly, which has averaged only half the US rate since 2000.
  • Investment in ICT generates a bigger return to productivity growth than most other forms of capital investment. This so-called "ICT Dividend" is estimated to contribute around one-third of the overall 20 percent to 25 percent returns on ICT investment.
  • The research highlights how some individual countries have been impacted by this trend:
  • The European productivity leaders are Scandinavia and the UK. Over the past 15 years, they have seen average labour productivity growth of between 1.7 percent and 2 percent a year.
  • Italy and Spain have made least effective use in Europe of ICT to drive productivity. Since 1995, their annual labour productivity has averaged only 0.3 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively.
  • The report also has some clear messages for governments and policy makers. Oxford Economics has concluded that government policy directly influences the effectiveness of ICT investment and its productivity benefits.

European governments would enable considerable growth by putting more effective ICT policy at the heart of their economic agendas. It would also help Europe stay ahead of emerging markets that are adopting technology quickly. Key measures that would improve productivity include harmonising data protection laws across the EU, reviewing regulations around data sharing and keeping policies up to date with technological developments.

"Our research shows that firms in Europe stand to benefit significantly from increased investment in ICT," said Adrian Cooper, CEO, Oxford Economics. "However, they must also consider the critical intangible assets--such as employee know-how and organizational improvements--that will allow them to wring the most value from their investments. Governments, meanwhile, must keep regulations up to date with advancements in technology to ensure maximum benefit across the EU."

"There is a dire need for Europe to improve its productivity, and investment in ICT is the trump card to achieving this," said Fabio Colasanti, President of the International Institute of Communications and Senior Adviser at the European Policy Centre. "But national governments must prioritise ICT investment more effectively and focus on creating the right conditions for investment. This means, improvements to ICT infrastructure, more flexible labour markets and better ICT education. These reforms will deliver significant productivity returns and boost European growth in the long term. There are also wider and equally important social benefits of investing in ICT including better access to education, more effective health care and improvements to transport security. Policymakers should take notice and do all they can to ensure the digital agenda in Europe is given the push it needs."


Источник: Cellular news

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