The BBVA Foundation has published the study La competitividad de las regiones españolas ante la economía del conocimiento (The competitiveness of Spanish regions in the knowledge economy), directed by Ivie Researcher and Professor at the University of Valencia, Ernest Reig, which examines the impact that the information and communication technologies (ICT), human capital and R&D have on income and wealth in the different Spanish autonomous communities. The main conclusions of the project were made known in advance on 28 November 2016.
The use of knowledge has increased in all the Spanish regions during the 21st century, but at a very uneven rate: in some cases, differences among regions have increased during this period. The regional differences are significant especially in the case of ICT assets’ investment, despite having increased throughout the country and having maintained a more intense investment compared with other assets, even during the crisis period (2007-2012) in which it reached 15.6% of the total investment. However, while the Community of Madrid’s investment in ICT represented almost 20% of its total productive investment during those years, in other regions, such as Asturias, Cantabria and Castile-La Mancha, it weight did not exceed 12%.
When analyzing the capacity of Spain as a manufacturer and exporter of machinery and ICT equipment, regional inequalities are even greater: ICT-producing sector is weak -only representing 1.6% of the nation’s business structure- and is located mainly in Madrid and Catalonia. Half of the country’s firms are based in these two autonomous communities and concentrate 88% of sales and 75% of foreign trade of the sector.
Also, regional differences are evident in the weight of ICT on employment, representing 2.6% in Spain, but with values that range from 6.6% in the Community of Madrid, to less than 1% in Extremadura, La Rioja and the Canary and Balearic Islands.
In comparison with the regional inequalities that exist in production, investment and employment based on ICT assets, the study highlights the tendency towards convergence among regions in the use of ICT in households and businesses. While in 2006 only 39% of Spanish households had internet access, today that number has increased to nearly 79%. In 2006, 50% of households in Madrid had internet connection; double than Extremadura (23%), whereas, by 2015, both regions had practically the same percentage (approximately 75%).
Advancements in the use of ICT by firms have also been very positive: 94.2% of firms with 10 or more employees (87% in 2006) have broadband internet connection and three out of four businesses have their own website.