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Capacity-building for information and communication technology measurement and policy

Background:

As information and communication technology considerations are increasingly integrated into national development strategies, there is a growing need for reliable data and indicators regarding ICT readiness, use and impact. Such data help policymakers formulate policies and strategies for ICT-driven growth and monitor and evaluate ICT-related developments in both the economic and the social realm, and help companies make the right investments and business decisions. They also allow developing countries to benchmark their performance, helping them to take policy decisions to narrow the digital divide.

The project responds to the World Summit on the Information Society Geneva Plan of Action, which calls for action to develop statistical indicators for benchmarking and performance evaluation, to follow up the implementation of the Plan of Action and to track global progress in the use of ICTs. This project will build upon UNCTAD expertise in the area of e-commerce and e-business development, as well as its partnership with a number of international and regional organizations on the project “Measuring ICT for development”, which was launched at the eleventh session of UNCTAD, in June 2004. The project also correlates to the UNCTAD mandate to develop and apply mechanisms for monitoring and measuring digital economy developments and ICT use in countries. (For further information, see http://measuring-ict.unctad.org.) Four regional commissions (ECA, ECLAC, ESCAP and ESCWA) are members of the partnership, and UNCTAD will work closely with them on this project to implement regional workshops, select beneficiary countries for capacity-building activities and create regional networks.

In addition, UNCTAD will work closely with a number of partners, including the Department Economic and Social Affairs/United Nations ICT Task Force and the United Nations Statistics Division.

Objective:

To strengthen the capacity of Governments in selected developing countries to produce internationally comparable ICT statistics and indicators for effective policymaking.

Expected accomplishments:

  • Increased capacity in selected beneficiary developing countries to implement ICT and e-business programmes for the compilation of statistics that are comparable at the international and the regional level
  • Established regional networks on ICT indicators in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Western Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Increased availability of e-business statistics for impact assessment, evaluation and benchmarking of information economy developments

Implementation status:

The Capacity-building for ICT measurement and policy making project was prompted by countries' need for objective statistical data to initiate or evaluate national policies on information and communication technologies (ICTs). With activities scheduled from 2006 through to 2009, the project has been very successful. With financial support from the Development Account, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has been able to identify a set of core ICT indicators, ,adopted sound methodological data collection approaches, produced a technical manual, developed a dedicated training course, provided tailor-made advisory missions to requesting countries and built up a database of business ICT indicators.

Overall, more than 630 representatives (40% women) from 104 developing countries benefited from participation in training and other events organized for the project.

One of the main success factors for the project has been the close affiliation with the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development. This contributed to identify the best expert advice in the area of ICT statistics and to achieve coordination efficiencies in organizing regional activities and strengthening existing networks of statistical officers. Partner institutions include ITU, OECD, UNCTAD, the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, the UN Regional Commissions (UNECLAC, UNESCWA, UNESCAP and UNECA), the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA), the World Bank and EUROSTAT.

As a result of this project, countries' capacity to collect ICT statistics has improved. A series of regional training courses and national advisory missions by UNCTAD have directly contributed to raising the capabilities of national statistical offices (NSOs) in this area, and to ensuring international comparability of the data collected. National coordination between different stakeholders has also been reinforced. Results have been achieved thanks to a continuous collaboration with members of the Partnership as well as through systematic consultations with regional networks of statistical officers in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Western Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean.

In collaboration with the Partnership, UNCTAD developed a core list of ICT indicators. Two editions of the Manual for the Production of Statistics on the Information Economy were produced, including definitions, references on sound data collection methodologies, a model questionnaire and a substantive review of best practices. Networks of statistical officials from developing countries were convened by UNCTAD in regional technical workshops to review, comment upon, revise and adopt a final list of indicators and a final Manual. These tools laid a solid basis for countries to develop their capacity in collecting ICT statistics in a sustainable way.