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The world's fastest-growing cloud-based economies

The countries working the hardest to connect their citizens to a digital economy

Singapore has been named the world’s fastest-growing cloud-based economy, according to a new report.

The Global Cloud Ecosystem Index 2022, launched by MIT Technology Review Insights with Infosys Cobalt, is a snapshot of worldwide cloud development and innovation. It ranks 76 nations and territories on the technology, regulations, and talent they use to promote cloud computing services. It consolidates scores across four themes: infrastructure, ecosystem adoption, security and assurance, and talent and human affinity.

Top scorers in the index show significant efforts to propagate digital infrastructure and have digitally-minded governments that use the cloud to deliver public services and safeguard personal data and digital transactions. 

Singapore leads the index overall, thanks to its cloud-first strategy where the government has implemented a nationwide digital transformation strategy. Following Singapore are European countries aiming to preserve the rights of digital consumers, via GDPR, and curbing monopolistic tendencies of the internet services sector. They are Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, Iceland, France, Norway, and Luxembourg. The UK ranked 11th.

“Data gathered from the Global Cloud Ecosystem Index validates that now, more than ever, there is urgency to go to the cloud from both enterprises and policymakers, as cloud can create positive economic impact,” says Ravi Kumar S., president of Infosys. “The future of work will depend heavily on effective cloud transformations to create a dynamic digital future that uplifts and equalises us all, ensuring more opportunities for everyone, irrespective of location.”

The report also pointed to the mounting evidence of policy vigilance to temper oligarchic tendencies in cloud markets, notably EU countries. The European Commission, for example, reportedly plans to mandate interoperability and forbid cloud and SaaS providers from charging fees when customers switch services when it introduces its new European Data Governance Act later in 2022.

For cloud laggards, the challenges they face are no less daunting and are compounded by the need to get foundational infrastructure and equitable access to digital services in place to boost consumer and business adoption. The report added that African nations make up seven of the 10 lowest ranks in the index, in large part due to the continent’s sparse broadband and data centre resources.

Xalam Analytics analysts predict that Africa needs to develop 700 data centres, but there are only 80 in service, with 70% of them sitting in a single country: South Africa.

Best countries for cloud infrastructure

Fast-evolving digital infrastructure is increasingly enabling access to cloud capabilities, stated the report. The top-ranked countries for this section are largely indistinguishable from the index’s leaders overall. Copious and reliable broadband and a reasonable density of secure servers and data centres serve to underpin overall cloud computing capabilities, it stated.

The top ten countries are Iceland, Denmark, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Sweden, United States, Singapore, Norway, Finland, and New Zealand, which received scores between 8.78 to 9.52. The bottom ten are Kenya, Ghana, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Zambia, Angola, Cameroon, Uganda, and Ethiopia, which received scores between 1.05 and 4.06.

5G network investments are increasingly seen as a key cloud enabler, said the report. It brings computing resources, and the applications they enable, closer to consumers and enterprises, and with greater speed.

Best countries for cloud adoption

The extent to which consumers and companies effectively use the cloud is assessed in the index’s second pillar, ecosystem adoption. Scores here are aggregated from several indicators that rate the usage of digital channels amongst a nation’s constituents, the density of software-as-a-service (SaaS) organisations in the economy, and the relative affordability of broadband prices. The authors of the report believe these indicators demonstrate how well people and businesses use cloud resources to enhance their productivity and economic progress.

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The top 10 countries are Singapore, France, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Japan, Switzerland, Luxembourg, UK, and Denmark, with scores ranging between 7.18 to 8.07. The bottom 10 countries are Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Cameroon, Angola, Zambia, and Algeria, with scores between 2.33 and 4,19.

Japan performs better in this pillar, thanks to its booming e-commerce marketplace worth around $217 billion in 2021, the world’s third-largest. Additionally, the Fuji Chimera Institute estimated that Japanese business use of SaaS services grew by nearly 30% in 2020. Lately, the country’s spending on edge AI technologies is expected to grow from $7.8 billion in 2020 to $40.8 billion in 2030.

Best countries for cloud security

The security and assurance pillar rates each country on several indicators including the quality of its cyber security regime, the effectiveness of its regulatory framework, and press freedom.

The top 10 countries are Finland, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Luxembourg, Norway, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and Belgium, with scores between 9.19 and 9.73. The bottom 10 countries are Saudi Arabia, Ecuador, Pakistan, Algeria, Iran, Angola, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Ethiopia, and Guatemala, with scores between 2.84 and 5.25.

The report highlighted that the Dutch national cyber security resources have transformed the country into a digital security service platform for regional governments and enterprises. It also noted that Saudi Arabia and Iran, “security laggards”, have bootstrapped their own digital infrastructure, technology, and talent resources to maintain capable, if somewhat geopolitically isolated, domestic cloud ecosystems.

Best countries for cloud talent

The availability of talent and skills is a critically important consideration for cloud services companies, SaaS providers, and other ecosystem participants when determining where to set up service nodes and regional operations globally stated the report. The depth and quality of this talent are measured in the talent and human affinity pillar.

The top ten countries are Germany, Singapore, Iran, South Korea, Finland, Sweden, UK, Russia, Denmark, and Switzerland, with scores ranging between 7.82 and 8.86. The bottom ten countries are Egypt, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Guatemala, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Angola, and Ethiopia, with scores between 2.11 and 4.23.

Although Iran has the world’s fifth-largest talent pool, its ongoing geopolitical isolation creates barriers between its digital economy and that of the rest of the world. This impedes its access to technology and bandwidth, and lowers its rankings in other dimensions, stated the report.

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