Committed to connecting the world

ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

Least Developed Countries (LDCs)

The least developed countries (LDCs) are defined as low-income countries that are suffering from long-term impediments to growth. They have low levels of human resource development and are vulnerable to both socio-economic, and environmental shocks. There are forty-seven (47) LDCs, with a population of close to one billion, representing around 13% of the world's total.
 
NEW:  Equatorial Guinea graduated from the category of the LDCs in June 2017
 

LEAST DEVELOPED COUNTRIES

​Africa (33)

​Asia Pacific (13)

​Americas (1)

​Angola
Benin
Burkina Faso #
Burundi #
Central African Republic #
Chad #
Comoros *
DR Congo
Djibouti
Eritrea
Ethiopia #
Gambia
​Guinea
Guinea-Bissau *
Lesotho #
Liberia
Madagascar
Malawi #
Mali #
Mauritania
Mozambique
Niger #
Rwanda #
São Tomé and Príncipe *
Senegal
Sierra Leone
Somalia
South Sudan #
Sudan
Togo
Uganda #
Tanzania
Zambia #​
​Afghanistan #
Bangladesh
Bhutan #
Cambodia
Kiribati *
Lao PDR #
Myanmar
Nepal #
Solomon Islands *
Timor-Leste *
Tuvalu *
Vanuatu *
Yemen
​Haiti *

* Also a Small Island Developing State # Also a Landlocked Developing Country Source: ITU based on UN-OHRLLS

ICTs to address the development challenges of the LDCs


The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Declaration recognizes that "the spread of information and communication technology and global interconnectedness has great potential to accelerate human progress, to bridge the digital divide and to develop knowledge societies, as does scientific and technological innovation across areas as diverse as medicine and energy".  Goal 9c calls to "significantly increase access to ICT and strive to provide universal and affordable access to Internet in the LDCs by 2020".

ITU has mainstreamed the needs of LDCs in all its activities, programmes and projects to achieve its commitments under the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA) 2011-2020. The IPoA, adopted by the Fourth UN Conference on the LDCs in Istanbul in 2011, is a  result-oriented programme of action for the sustainable development of LDCs. It recognizes ICT networks as an infrastructure priority on par with water, electricity, and transport, and includes a call to "significantly increase access to telecommunication services and strive to provide 100 per cent access to the Internet by 2020".

ITU's mandate is to connect the unconnected and to help the most vulnerable countries take advantage of ICTs for development, including through the provision of concentrated assistance. Find out more about ITU's projects and initiatives in the LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS.

Identification of Inclusion to the Least Developed Countries Category


The category of the LDCs was officially established by the United Nations in 1971. The UN General Assembly mandated the Committee for Development Policy (CDP), a subsidiary body of the  UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), to review and monitor every three years the list of LDCs and make recommendations on the inclusion and graduation of eligible countries using three criteria which are based on (a) income per capita (b) human assets and (c) economic vulnerability. The CDP defines the LDCs as "low-income countries suffering from the most severe structural impediments to sustainable development." South Sudan was the last country to join the group in 2012.

Eligibility to Graduate from the Least Developed Countries Category


Countries that meet two of the three LDC criteria (income per capita, human assets and economic vulnerability) become eligible for graduation; those that do so in two consecutive reviews qualify for graduation from the LDC category. They also qualify if the GNI per capita of the country is at least twice the graduation threshold ($ 2,484) in two consecutive reviews.

Equatorial Guinea graduated from the category of the LDCs in June 2017. It was the fifth country to graduate since the inception of the LDCs category in 1971, following Botswana (1994), Cabo Verde (2007), Maldives (2011) and Samoa (2014). Vanuatu and Angola are scheduled to graduate in 2020 and 2021, respectively.