Average programmer salary: (Varies wildly - $US15,000-$38,000/year)Infrastructure: GoodPros: A lack of natural resources propelled Israel into the knowledge-based economy early. Today, it is a major software centre for the world and is growing at 25 per cent a year.
Cons: Ongoing regional turmoil and violence continues to taint Israel's image.
Insider tip: Israel is home to mostly boutique IT consulting and services companies focusing on customised applications or shrink-wrapped software production, in contrast to India's large, project-oriented enterprises.
RUSSIAN FEDERATION: Up-and-comer.
Average programmer salary: ($US5000-$7500/year; $US10-$40/hour)Infrastructure: Fair. Poor telecom infrastructure overall, but much better in technology centres. High cost of bandwidth.
Pros: Rocket scientists for nearly rock-bottom prices. Russia has the third-highest number of scientists and engineers per capita, according to the World Bank.
Cons: Russia and its rubles are still struggling to emerge from communism. Erratic government, unstable economy, lack of managerial talent, and poor consumer protection and intellectual property laws continue to cause problems. Some talented IT workers flee to friendlier climes.
Insider tip: A credible business environment could develop in the next five years. Meantime, Russia can be a good place to solve complex technical problems or provide risk mitigation, particularly at the larger, more developed companies.
SOUTH AFRICA: Up-and-comer.
Average programmer salary: ($US18,000/year)Infrastructure: Fair. Reasonably modern telecom infrastructure is the best in Africa, and investment in telecom is high (7.17 per cent of its GDP).
Pros: Native English is a huge plus. A 50-kilometre stretch between Johannesburg and Pretoria is evolving into the country's first technology hub.
Cons: Low level of outsourcing penetration. Few local companies have evolved into booming technology enterprises. IT talent emigrates elsewhere.
Insider tip: While political violence is mostly a thing of the past, internal problems persist in preventing real growth.
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