Producing statistics on the digital economy and society is an increasingly important component of the work programme of national statistical organizations. The demand for such statistics continuously increases as more countries seek to design, monitor and review national policies and strategies to take advantage of information and communications technologies (ICTs). Business communities also require information about access to, and use of, ICTs by various consumer groups, as well as information about the impact of ICTs.
This is a particular challenge for developing countries, many of which are still at an early stage in their statistical work on measuring various aspects of an increasingly digital economy and society. At the international level, comparable ICT indicators are critical for allowing for cross-country comparisons, monitoring of the digital divide and for establishing policy-relevant benchmarks.
UNCTAD is a founding member of the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development, which is an international, multi-stakeholder initiative to improve the availability and quality of ICT data and indicators. One of its key achievements is the development of a core list of ICT indicators for the production of internationally comparable statistics.
This list was first endorsed by the United Nations Statistical Commission at its 38th session in March 2007 and has since been updated regularly. The Commission encouraged countries to use that list in their data collection programmes; a first version of the Manual for the Production of Statistics on the Information Economy was published at the end of 2007. An updated version was published in 2009.
This edition of the Manual for the Production of Statistics on the Digital Economy, was prepared to reflect the many changes that have taken place in the past decade in terms of access and use of ICTs. Compared to earlier versions, it expands the coverage of the measurement of e-commerce, trade in ICT services and trade in ICT-enabled (or digitally delivered) services. It contains more model questionnaires and reflects the most recent revisions of the Partnership’s list of core ICT indicators.
The Manual is intended to guide statisticians from developing countries through all the steps involved in the production and dissemination of statistics related to e-commerce and the digital economy.