Asia beating EU in digital economy: Verwaayen

Ragnhild Kjetland
27 Jan 2012

Asia and Africa are moving faster in building infrastructure for the digital economy and may leave Europe behind, Alcatel-Lucent Chief Executive Officer Ben Verwaayen said.

“They are building a physical infrastructure that allows people, wherever they are, to participate in the global digital economy,” Verwaayen said, referring to Asia.

“That will give them an enormous advantage in the years to come,” he said today in an interview with Maryam Nemazee on Bloomberg Television’s “Countdown” on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

France’s largest telecommunications equipment supplier in November cut its profit forecast as Europe’s economic outlook prompted customers to hold back orders. Alcatel shares fell as much as 9.6% today in Paris trading after Ericsson, the world’s largest maker of wireless networks, reported fourth-quarter profit that missed analysts’ estimates on slower spending from North American customers.

The Asia-Pacific region accounted for almost a fifth of the Paris-based company’s third-quarter revenue, while North America and Europe combined accounted for two-thirds.

Europeans don’t have the same “determination” and “spend a lot of time still talking about the world as it was,” the CEO said. Africa is moving faster in digital infrastructure than Europe, he added.

“We know what we have to do,” he said. “The problem is not the intellectual challenge. It’s the political challenge to get it done, and in the meantime we are losing jobs, we’re losing growth.”

--Editors: Thomas Mulier, Robert Valpuesta

To contact the reporter on this story: Ragnhild Kjetland in Frankfurt at [email protected]

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at [email protected]

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