Measuring the information economy - how ICT contributes to development
Information and communication technologies (ICT) are undeniably gaining ground, even in the remotest corners of the world. The numbers of personal computers and Internet subscribers have soared and are expected to grow even more in the next few years, particularly in developing countries. But the exact figures and the impact of this increase are difficult to quantify.
Phone companies recognize that although more and more people worldwide are using mobiles, barely 15% of the population in developing economies own mobile phones, compared to 70% in industrialized countries. It is not uncommon in the developing world for several people to share the same mobile. In India, for instance, rickshaws equipped with mobile phones pedal through the state of Rajasthan offering phone services for a fee.
A similar disparity exists with the Internet. Slow access hampers use, and most enterprises in developing countries resort to the Internet mainly to send e-mails and look for information. Although Internet use remains high in large and medium-sized enterprises, very few small and micro firms are connected, particularly in rural areas. For instance, only 9% of companies in Thailand, where most businesses are small, were connected to the Internet in 2004, compared to 90% in most developed economies.
For more information on the work being done on the measurement of ICT, please check the website measuring-ict.unctad.org