16 February 2005

Measuring Information and Communication Technologies for Development

(Reissued as received.)

GENEVA, 15 February (UNCTAD) -- Country-by-country progress on information and communications technologies (ICT) can now be benchmarked thanks to a list of core statistical indicators adopted last week by a United Nations meeting in Geneva. The list -- the first ever to be agreed at the global level -– was agreed by members of a multi-agency partnership and covers indicators on Internet usage, infrastructure and access. Efforts to help developing countries improve the production of official information statistics on ICT and to implement a global database on ICT indicators will follow.

The agreed indicators on infrastructure cover such factors as mobile phone tariffs, international Internet bandwidth per inhabitant, and community Internet access. Where individuals and households use the Internet, and what activities they undertake -- such as acquiring information, communicating, purchasing or ordering goods and services, learning, dealing with public authorities and engaging in leisure activities -- are also monitored. For businesses, the indicators cover areas like buying and selling over the Internet.

The 7-9 February meeting, on "Measuring the Information Society", was convened by members of the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development as one of the activities emanating from the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). Participants from governments, intergovernmental organizations, civil society and the private sector exchanged practical suggestions on policies and programmes to help countries measure ICT for policy-making purposes and considered methodologies and models for data gathering. The indicators agreed upon are ones that can potentially be collected by all countries and harmonized at the international level.

The Partnership was officially launched at the UNCTAD XI (São Paulo, Brazil, June 2004) and currently comprises the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations ICT Task Force, four UN regional commissions (Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA)), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics, the World Bank and Eurostat. Its objective is to produce concrete recommendations to implement the Geneva Plan of Action adopted during the first phase of WSIS (Geneva, December 2003) in the area of ICT indicators for benchmarking and evaluating ICT access and use. The recommendations will provide practical input to the second phase of the Summit (Tunis, 16-18 November 2005) and its follow-up.

The UNCTAD contributes to the Partnership by helping developing countries produce e-business statistics and databases. This work will feed into UNCTAD's annual e-commerce and development report and into the global ICT database to be developed by the partners.

Contacts: Press Office, +41 22 917 5828, unctadpress@unctad.org; S. Teltscher, +41 22 917 5509, susan.teltscher@unctad.org; or http://measuring-ict.unctad.org.

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