ICT Focus – Namibia Improves in ICT Ranking – Developing World Still Behind in ICT Usage

Namibia improved its ranking in the overall information and communication technology (ICT) Development Index having climbed one position up to rank 117 for the 2013 period, according to the just released United Nations report on ICT. Namibia ranked 118 in 2012. South Africa dropped from position 89 in 2012 to the 90th position for the 2013 period in terms of the overall ICT Development Index (IDI) rankings.

African nations like Mauritius and the Seychelles, ranked 70th and 75th respectively, are the highest placed countries in the region.

Over three billion people are now online and information and communication technology (ICT) growth remains buoyant in just about every country worldwide, according to International Telecommunication Union (ITU)’s annual Measuring the Information Society Report released this week.

ITU is the United Nations specialised agency for information and communication technologies.

Latest data show that Internet use continues to grow steadily, at 6.6 percent globally in 2014, and 3.3 percent in developed countries, 8.7 percent in the developing world. The number of Internet users in developing countries has doubled in five years between 2009 and 2014, with two thirds of all people online now living in the developing world.

Of the 4.3 billion people not yet using the Internet, 90 percent live in developing countries. In the world’s 42 Least Connected Countries (LCCs), which are home to 2.5 billion people, access to information and communication technologies (ICTs) remains largely out of reach, particularly for these countries’ large rural populations.

“ICTs have the potential to make the world a much better place – in particular for those who are the poorest and the most disenfranchised, including women, youth, and those with disabilities,” said ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Toureacute.

“This important report is a critical part of the global ICT development process. Without measurement we cannot track progress, which is why ITU gathers ICT statistics for 200 economies across over 100 indicators,” Toure said.

In the mobile cellular segment, the report estimates that by end 2014 there will be seven billion mobile subscriptions, roughly corresponding to the total global population. But it warns against concluding that everyone is connected instead, many users have multiple subscriptions, with global growth figures sometimes translating into little real improvement in the level of connectivity of those at the very bottom of the pyramid. An estimated 450 million people worldwide live in places that are still out of reach of mobile cellular service.

Encouragingly, the report notes substantial improvements in access to international bandwidth in poorer countries, with developing nations’ share of total global international bandwidth rising from just 9 percent in 2004 to over 30 percent today. But lack of sufficient international Internet bandwidth in many of the LCCs remains an important barrier to ICT uptake in these countries, and often limits the quality of Internet access.

“It is precisely in poor and rural areas where ICTs can make a particularly significant impact,” said Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, which produces the report.

“New analysis featured in this report shows that many of the indicators of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) show significant correlation with the IDI, notably those related to poverty reduction and health improvement. The report also finds that progress in ICT development is linked to progress in achieving some of the MDGs. ITU has long been a vigorous champion of ICTs as a cornerstone of socio-economic development.”

Denmark ranked Number One in ITU’s ICT Development Index (IDI), followed by the Republic of Korea. The IDI is a composite measurement that ranks 166 countries according to their level of ICT access, use and skills.

The IDI top 30-ranking include countries from Europe and high-income nations from other regions including Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Japan, Macao (China), New Zealand, Singapore and the United States. Europe’s average IDI value of 7.14 remains well ahead of the next best-performing region, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) at 5.33, followed by the Americas at 4.86, Asia amp the Pacific at 4.57, the Arab States at 4.55, and Africa at 2.31.

By the end of this year, almost 44 percent of households globally will have Internet access at home, up from 40 percent last year and 30 percent in 2010. In the developed world, 78 percent of households now have home Internet access, compared to 31 percent in developing countries, and just 5 percent in the 48 UN Least Developed Countries.

Internet access in schools has made important strides forward over the past decade. In developed countries, the vast majority of schools now have broadband Internet, with many industrialized nations having already reached 100 percent school connectivity. In developing countries substantial progress has also been made, but access levels vary widely, not just from country to country, but also across different regions within nations.

The report notes that the potential for public libraries and post offices to service as public ICT access points has not been sufficiently exploited. Worldwide, only 10 percent of post offices offer public Internet access, despite the fact that 20 percent of post offices globally have a broadband connection. According to ITU’s sister UN agency the Universal Postal Union, increasing the proportion of post offices offering public Internet services to 45 percent of all establishments would provide one third of all rural areas and towns worldwide with Internet connectivity.

Source : New Era