The second edition of logistics company DHL's Global Connectedness Index (GCI) shows that while there was only a modest increase in global connectedness between 2010 and 2011, sub-Saharan Africa experienced large gains in its connectivity. The index, which analyses connectedness in terms of 10 different types of flows – including trade flows, capital flows and information flows – from 125 countries and territories, showed that Mozambique, Togo, Ghana, Guinea and Zambia had experienced the largest increases in connectedness. Sub-Saharan Africa remains the world's least connected region, however.

As in 2010, Europe ranked as the world’s most connected region, with nine of the top 10 most connected countries located in Europe. The Netherlands ranked as the world's most connected country.

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The index looked at both the breadth and the depth of global connectedness. Depth was defined by DHL as the size of international flows in relation to the size of a country's domestic economy. Breadth was defined as the distribution of a country's outflows compared to the global average distribution for such flows. Hong Kong, Singapore, Luxembourg, Ireland and the Netherlands were cited as having the deepest international connections, while the countries with the broadest connections were the UK, the US, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany.

The index, which drew information from more than 1 million data points, concluded that the world was less globally connected in 2011 than it was in 2007. "The GCI indicates that today's volatile and uncertain business environment bears the lasting impact of the financial crisis," said Frank Appel, CEO of Deutsche Post DHL.

"Since the onset of the global financial crisis in 2007, global connectedness has been faltering and this is an alarming finding, given the huge gains that global connectedness has brought to the world’s citizens. In this period of slow growth, it is important to remember the tremendous gains that globalisation has brought to the world's citizens and to recognise it as an engine of economic progress. Above all, governments must resist protectionist measures that hinder crossborder interactions."

The report contends that richer countries tend to have deeper and broader global connections than poorer countries. For Charles Brewer, the managing director of DHL Express in sub-Saharan Africa, improving the ease of doing business across borders is an important way in which poorer countries can work to improve their connectivity. “If we want to improve this interconnectivity, we need to look at the ease of doing business across borders in the region and work towards regional trade agreements, customs improvements and border efficiencies, to name just a few," he said.