Can broadband be a purveyor of prosperity and democracy? Well, if Alain Dutheil, CEO of ST-Ericsson and COO of STMicroelectronics is right, and he usually is, then the answer is: Yes.
Dutheil produced a piece of World Bank research at IEF 2009 which says that every ten per cent increase in broadband penetration delivers a 1.2% increase in a country’s GDP.
He then went on to praise broadband’s contribution to the workings of democracy in that it delivers: “More responsive governments which we need, especially in Europe.”
If you look at broadband penetration across the world, then there is clearly a relationship between high penetration and high GDP.
North America is top with 73.9%, then Oceania/Australia with 60% and Europe with 50%.
And, on the whole, these places are reasonably responsive to their populations’ wishes.
And if you look at the broadband penetration in Latin America and the Caribbean with 30%, and at the Middle East with 23.7%, at Asia with 18.5%, and at Africa with 6.7%, you appreciate that the governments of these places are pretty unresponsive to their citizens’ wishes.
On the other hand the Middle East is stinking rich yet has lousy broadband penetration (below the world average of 24.7%) and particularly lousy responsiveness (somewhere around zero) to its citizens’ wishes.
Now the method of accessing broadband is changing quickly with people moving from fixed links to mobile.
Next year mobile broadband subscribers will overtake fixed line broadband suppliers and, by 2014, two thirds of broadband subscribers will be mobile users.
And the world’s greatest terminal for accessing mobile broadband is the iPhone.
So Steve Jobs may succeed in bringing democracy to the Middle East where George W Bush and the might of the US military failed.