Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is real pleasure to be with you here today for the official launch of the ITU’s newest publication, Measuring the Information Society 2012.
This is the fourth edition of what I believe is arguably ITU’s most important and valuable publication, and I am pleased that for the first time we have the opportunity of holding an event for the wider Geneva community rather than just the media.
The report is especially important as it features two key benchmarking tools that track the development of the information society.
The first of these is the ICT Development Index, the IDI, which combines 11 different indicators into one single measure to track progress made in ICT access, use and skills.
The IDI measures the level of ICT developments in 155 economies worldwide, presents country rankings, and compares progress made between the end of 2010 and the end of 2011.
The second is the ICT Price Basket, the IPB, which combines fixed-telephone, mobile-cellular and fixed-broadband Internet tariffs for 165 economies into one measure, and ranks countries based on the 2011 tariffs, and in relation to income levels. It also compares tariffs over the four-year period from 2008 to 2011.
The report also features new data and analysis on revenue and investment in the ICT sector.
I will not go into detail on the key findings of this report, as you will shortly be hearing from my colleagues in ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, who deserve all due credit for putting together this tremendous publication.
What I will say, however, is that the report clearly shows that we are on the right track, as ICTs continue to become more available, and more affordable, right across the planet, and especially in the developing world.
During 2011, we saw 600 million new mobile cellular subscriptions globally, and 300 million new Internet users. This means that by the beginning of this year there were close to six billion mobile cellular subscriptions and 2.3 billion people – a third of the world’s inhabitants – were online.
Although we have successfully brought most of the world’s population within reach of a phone line – something widely considered impossible just 25 years ago – there is still very much a broadband divide, however.
This is why ITU set up the Broadband Commission for Digital Development with UNESCO two years ago, which advocates for increased broadband rollout globally, to help accelerate progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals.
A year ago, at the Broadband Leadership Summit here in Geneva, the Commission established four targets to measure progress, covering policy, affordability, and uptake, to be achieved by 2015.
These targets were reported on for the first time in the ‘State of Broadband’ report which was launched at the Commission’s most recent meeting in New York on 23 September – and we were pleased to note that exceptional progress has been made.
Concerning policy, by 2011, out of a total of 144 developing countries, 127 had established a national broadband plan, included broadband in their UAS definitions, or both.
Concerning affordability, fixed broadband cost less than 5% of monthly income in 48 developing economies by the end of last year – up from just 35 economies in 2010.
And we are already just over half-way to meeting the target of 40% of homes in developing countries with Internet access.
I think there is no longer any doubt that in the 21st century broadband rollout and uptake is absolutely crucial for sustainable social and economic development.
So I welcome this new publication and would ask you to report widely not just on the progress that has been made, but also on what still needs to be done to create an equitable global information society.
And on that note let me hand the floor to Brahima Sanou, the Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau – and to thank him and his team for the excellent work that has gone into this report.