"In order to fully understand the implications of information and communication technologies (ICT) for development and poverty reduction, we need to be able to measure the impact ICT have on societies and economies", said Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD, speaking at a pre-session of the World Summit on the Information Society (Tunis, 16-18 November) on "Measuring the Information Society".
The session, held on Tuesday, 15 November, was organized by the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development (1). It was intended to alert decision makers to the need for reliable and internationally comparable data on ICT use. These statistics are essential to enable policy makers to develop appropriate ICT strategies and monitor their effects on enterprise competitiveness, trade and employment. The one-day event also showcased recent progress in the compilation and harmonization of ICT data, as well as proposals on the types of statistics to be collected to narrow the ICT data gap.
During the session, two publications prepared jointly by the Partnership were launched:
- Core ICT Indicators lists data on basic ICT infrastructure and telecommunications, and on the use of ICT by households, individuals and businesses. Indicators on education, government and health - sectors critical for assessing the information society - will be added to the list.
- Measuring ICT: the Global Status of ICT Indicators (PDF, 2307 KB, 184 pages) takes stock of the current situation in 85 countries and at the regional level.
UNCTAD is a leading organization in the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development, an outcome of UNCTAD´s eleventh session (held in São Paulo in June 2004). The Partnership will continue to work to:
- extend the set of core ICT indicators comparable at the international level, including on health, education and government;
- build statistical capacity in developing countries; and
- set up a global database for core ICT indicators.
These activities, started during the World Summit held in Geneva in 2003, are concrete deliverables of the Tunis Agenda, which is expected to be adopted on Friday, 18 November.
Dr. Supachai called on the international community to include ICT measurement in its development assistance programmes.