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Measuring information societies

21 May 2009

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The latest edition of Measuring the Information Society features the new ITU ICT Development Index which captures the level of advancement of ICTs in more than 150 countries worldwide and compares progress made between 2002 and 2007.

Measuring the Information Society - The ICT Development Index, 2009 Edition

Publisher: International Telecommunication Union

The main objective of the ICT Development Index is to provide policy makers with a useful tool to benchmark and assess their information society developments and to monitor progress that has been made globally to close the digital divide.

Measuring the Information Society - The ICT Development Index
Image credits: ITU / Cover page of the report

The need to develop an ICT index was emphasized in the outcome documents of the two World Summits on the Information Society (WSIS). The Geneva Plan of Action calls for a realistic international performance evaluation and benchmarking through comparable statistical indicators, and the creation of a composite index. This was reiterated in the Tunis Agenda, which calls for periodic evaluation through indicators and benchmarking, and an assessment of the magnitude of the digital divide.

This publication has been produced in response to those calls and following the request from ITU members to develop a single ITU index to track the digital divide and to measure countries’ progress towards becoming information societies.

This Report examines global and regional ICT developments during the past five years based on the index results. They reveal that despite huge improvements that were made in the access and use of ICTs worldwide, large disparities remain among countries.

The top ranking economies are primarily high-income countries from the developed world, whereas the least developed countries rank towards the bottom of the index. Despite impressive growth in the uptake of mobile telephony in many countries, the magnitude of the digital divide remains almost unchanged. However, the divide is slightly closing between countries with very high and those with low ICT levels.

An important element in monitoring ICT developments is to examine the cost of ICT services. High tariffs are often a major barrier to ICT uptake, in particular among poor people. The report features a new ICT Price Basket, which combines fixed telephone, mobile cellular and fixed broadband tariffs into one measure and compares it across countries, not only in absolute values, but relative to countries’ national incomes.

The results show that fixed and mobile telephony is becoming more and more affordable worldwide; however, fixed broadband Internet is still out of reach – in terms of affordability – for the majority of the world’s inhabitants.

The analytical report is complemented by a series of statistical tables providing country-level data for all indicators included in the Index.

Source : ITU

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