Twenty statisticians from the countries concerned met on 21-22 March in Panama City at a training workshop where the survey module was presented. The module, designed for the collection of statistics on information and communication technology (ICT), was developed with assistance from the ICT Analysis Section of UNCTAD's Division on Technology and Logistics. The workshop was hosted by the Contraloría General de la República (Office of the Comptroller-General).
The countries agreed to employ the module in future business surveys. The goal is to increase the availability and quality of comparable data and indicators on the information economy, in order to support regional and national ICT policies. The resulting data will ultimately be disseminated through UNCTAD and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
The importance of ICTs as tools for economic development and social inclusion is well recognized in Latin American and Caribbean countries, which have put in place initiatives such as ECLAC's Strategy for the Information Society in Latin America and the Caribbean (eLAC 2015). Setting astute strategies for capitalizing on ICTs requires careful monitoring and policy evaluation. The Plan of Action stresses the need to develop indicators for checking the progress of the region's information societies.
The workshop provided "an extraordinary impulse to the ICT measuring of enterprises for the countries of the region," said Pablo Tactuk, Coordinator of the Working Group on ICT Indicators of the Statistical Conference of the Americas. Mr. Tactuk is also Director-General of the National Statistical Office of the Dominican Republic.
A second training workshop on ICT statistics for English-speaking countries in the Caribbean is planned for 2014.
The Panama City training sessions were made possible by financial backing from Sweden, represented by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency which last year committed $1.57 million to an UNCTAD trust fund for a three-year project that aims to build the capacity of developing countries to benefit from ICT.