Media Centre • Press Release
ITU releases annual global ICT data
and ICT Development
Index country rankings
Geneva, 30 November 2015 – ITU’s flagship annual
the Information Society Report, released today, reveals that 3.2 billion people
are now online, representing 43.4% of the global population, while
mobile-cellular subscriptions have reached almost 7.1 billion worldwide, with
over 95% of the global population now covered by a mobile-cellular signal.
The report also notes that all 167 economies included in the ITU’s ICT
Development Index (IDI) improved their IDI values between 2010 and 2015 –
meaning that levels of information and communication technology (ICT) access,
use and skills continue to improve all around the world.
The Measuring the Information Society Report is widely recognized as the
repository of the world’s most reliable and impartial global data and analysis
on the state of global ICT development, and is extensively relied upon by
governments, international organizations, development banks and private sector
“ICTs will be essential in meeting each and every one of the 17 newly-agreed
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao,
“and this report plays an important role in the SDG process. Without measurement
and reporting, we cannot track the progress being made, and this is why ITU
gathers data and publishes this important report each year.”
“ITU’s work in gathering and publishing statistics allows us to monitor the
real progress being made in ICT development worldwide,” said Brahima Sanou,
Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, which produces the
report each year. “Progress is encouraging in many areas but more needs to be
done – especially in the world’s poorest and remotest regions, where ICTs can
arguably make the biggest difference, and help bring people everywhere out of
Internet: more people online than ever before; but growth slows
By the end of this year, 46% of households globally will have Internet access
at home, up from 44% last year and just 30% five years ago, in 2010. In the
developed world, 81.3% of households now have home Internet access, compared to
34.1% in the developing world, and just 6.7% in the 48 UN-designated Least
Developed Countries (LDCs).
Latest data show that growth in Internet use has slowed down, however,
posting 6.9% global growth in 2015, after 7.4% growth in 2014. Nonetheless, the
number of Internet users in developing countries has almost doubled in the past
five years (2010-2015), with two thirds of all people online now living in the
Fastest growth continues to be seen in mobile broadband, with the number of
mobile-broadband subscriptions worldwide having grown more than four-fold in
five years, from 0.8 billion in 2010 to an estimated 3.5 billion in 2015. The
number of fixed-broadband subscriptions has risen much more slowly, to an
estimated 0.8 billion today.
Mobile-network coverage: reaching the last half billion
Over 95% of the global population is now covered by mobile-cellular services,
meaning that there are still an estimated 350 million people worldwide who live
in places which are still out of reach of a mobile network – a figure that has
dropped from 450 million a year ago. But while 89% of the world’s urban
population is now covered by a 3G network, only 29% of the world’s 3.4
billion people living in rural areas benefit from 3G coverage.
Predictions up to 2020
In 2014, the ITU membership adopted the
Agenda, which sets out a series of goals and targets for improvements in the
growth and inclusiveness of ICTs, their sustainability, and the contribution of
innovation and partnerships. The Measuring the Information Society report, for
the first time, takes stock of where the world stands today in terms of these
goals and targets, and makes estimates for their achievement by the year 2020.
The report notes that the proportion of households projected to have Internet
access in 2020 will reach 56%, exceeding the Connect 2020 target of 55%
worldwide. More needs to be done to increase the number of Internet users,
however – the report predicts that only 53% of the global population will be
online in 2020, significantly below the Connect 2020 target of 60%.
More action will also be needed to ensure that targets for growth and
inclusiveness are not missed in developing countries, and in particular in LDCs.
The Connect 2020 Agenda aims to ensure that at least 50% of households in
developing countries and 15% of households in LDCs have access by 2020, but ITU
estimates that only 45% of households in developing countries and 11% of LDC
households will have Internet access by that date.
More affordable – but not universally affordable
The report notes that the price of mobile-cellular services continues to fall
across the world. In LDCs, the mobile-cellular price basket continued to fall,
coming down to 14% of gross national income per capita (GNI p.c.) by the end of
2014, compared to 29% in 2008.
The greatest decreases over the past year have been in mobile-broadband
prices, which have made the service on average between 20% and 30% more
By early 2015, 111 economies (out of 160 with available data), including all
of the world’s developed countries and 67 developing countries, had achieved the
Broadband Commission for Digital Development’s target that the cost of broadband
services should be no more than 5% of average monthly income. However, 22
developing countries still had broadband prices which corresponded to more than
20% of GNI p.c.
The report also notes that while tremendous progress has been in made in
terms of mobile-broadband affordability, fixed-broadband prices increased
between 2013 and 2014, after falling consistently for a number of years. In the
LDCs in particular, fixed-broadband services remain unaffordable, and most of
the countries ranked at the bottom of the fixed-broadband basket are LDCs. The
2014 average fixed-broadband basket corresponded to 98% of GNI p.c. in LDCs, up
from 70% a year before, a sharp increase that will not improve the already very
low uptake of fixed broadband in the world’s poorest countries.
ICT Development Index country rankings: widening gaps
In 2015, the Republic of Korea is ranked at the top of ITU’s ICT Development
Index (IDI)*, a composite measurement that ranks 167 countries according to
their level of ICT access, use and skills. Republic of Korea is closely followed
by Denmark and Iceland, in second and third place.
The IDI top 30 ranking includes countries from Europe and high-income nations
from other regions including Australia, Bahrain, Barbados, Canada, Hong Kong
(China), Japan, Macao (China), New Zealand, Singapore and the United States.
Almost all countries surveyed improved their IDI ranking this year.
Over the past five years, there has been a widening of the gap in IDI values
between countries ranked in the middle and those towards the bottom of the
distribution. In the LDCs, the IDI grew less compared to other developing
countries and LDCs are falling behind in particular in the IDI ‘use’ sub-index,
which could impact on their ability to derive development gains from ICTs.
The report identifies a group of ‘most dynamic countries’, which have
recorded above-average improvements in their IDI rank over the past five years.
These include (in order of greatest change in IDI ranking): Costa Rica, Bahrain,
Lebanon, Ghana, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Suriname,
Kyrgyzstan, Belarus and Oman.
IDI – Regional Comparisons
Average IDI values vary considerably between different regions.
In Africa** only one country, Mauritius, has an IDI
value above the global average of 5.03, while three others (Seychelles, South
Africa and Cape Verde) exceed the average value for developing countries of
Altogether, 29 out of 37 African countries rank in the bottom quarter of the
2015 IDI, including the 11 countries with the lowest rankings of all,
illustrating the importance of addressing the digital divide between Africa and
The average rise in IDI values in Africa between 2010 and 2015 was 0.65,
lower than that in other regions in nominal terms, but from a lower base and
therefore higher in proportion to the benchmark set in 2010. The most
significant improvement was achieved by Ghana, which increased its IDI value by
1.92 points and rose 21 places in the global rankings. Other substantial
improvements in the rankings were achieved by Lesotho, Cape Verde and Mali.
In the Americas, the United States, Canada and
Barbados lead the IDI rankings, with IDI values above 7.50, and global rankings
in the top thirty economies. These three countries significantly outperform all
other countries in the region, with IDI levels approaching one whole point above
the next highest regional performer, Uruguay. Some 29 of the region’s countries
fall within the top half of the global rankings.
Countries in the Americas region have experienced some of the most
significant movements up and down in global IDI rankings between 2010 and 2015.
The most dynamic improvement worldwide was achieved by Costa Rica, which rose 23
places in the global rankings, while other substantial improvements were
achieved by Suriname, Brazil, Barbados and Colombia. However, a number of
countries, particularly in Central America and the Caribbean, fell
significantly, including Belize, Cuba, Grenada, Jamaica and St. Kitts and Nevis.
In the Arab States region, the top five countries
in terms of ICT development – Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi
Arabia and Kuwait – are oil-rich high-income economies that are members of the
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). These countries all have IDI values over 6.50
and are among the top fifty countries in the global rankings. Three of them
(Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia) are among the ten countries
which have seen the most dynamic improvements in IDI rankings and values since
2010, as are two other countries in the region (Lebanon and Oman).
There is a growing disparity, however, between these high-performing
countries and those lower down the distribution. While GCC countries improved
their IDI values by 1.78 points between 2010 and 2015, the average improvement
for non-GCC countries was 0.89 points, the global average. The strong
performance of GCC countries reflects the association between IDI and national
Asia-Pacific is the most diverse region in terms of
ICT development, reflecting stark differences in levels of economic development.
Six economies in the region – including the Republic of Korea, Hong Kong (China)
and Japan – have IDI rankings in the top twenty of the global distribution.
However, the region also includes ten of the Index’s least connected countries,
including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
Countries throughout the region, and particularly middle-income countries,
have shown considerable improvements in their IDI values between 2010 and 2015,
however. The most dynamic improvements in IDI rankings in the region were
achieved by Thailand, Mongolia and Bhutan, which rose by 18, 13 and 9 places,
respectively, in the global rankings during the period. The average growth in
value for the region was 0.85 points, just below the global average.
The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) region
shows the least variation of any region between its highest and lowest
performing countries, reflecting the region’s relative economic homogeneity. All
countries in the region have rankings in the top half of the overall
The average increase of 1.43 points in IDI values in the region since 2010 is
considerably above the global average of 0.89. Belarus, the highest-ranking
country in the region, improved its performance by 1.88 points and 14 places,
while Kyrgyzstan, the region’s lowest-ranking country, also showed considerable
improvement, rising by 1.60 points and 15 places.
In Europe, all countries, with the exception of
Albania, exceed the global average IDI value of 5.03, and fall within the top
half of countries in the IDI ranking, reflecting the region’s high levels of
economic development. The region’s average IDI value rose between 2010 and 2015
from 6.48 to 7.35, an increase of 0.87 points. This is a highly positive
performance given that all but one country in the region was already in the
upper half of the distribution in 2010. The Europe region also has a relatively
narrow range between its maximum and minimum IDI values, reflecting relative ICT
sector and general economic homogeneity.
Positions at the top of the regional rankings are mostly held by countries in
northern and western Europe, in particular by Nordic countries; while lower
rankings are concentrated around the Mediterranean and in eastern Europe.
Denmark is the region’s top performer, with an IDI value of 8.88, just ahead of
Iceland, with an IDI value of 8.86, while the greatest improvement in IDI
rankings between 2010 and 2015 was achieved by the United Kingdom, which rose
from tenth to fourth position globally.
*Note to editors:
ITU’s IDI is widely recognized by government, UN agencies and industry as the
most accurate and impartial measure of overall national ICT development. It
combines 11 indicators into a single measure that can be used as a benchmarking
tool globally, regionally, and at national level, as well as helping track
progress in ICT development over time. It measures ICT access, use and skills,
and includes such indicators as mobile cellular subscriptions, households with a
computer, Internet users, fixed and mobile broadband Internet subscriptions, and
basic literacy rates.
**Note to editors:
ITU’s Africa region does not include the North African Arab States.
For more information and to view the results of the
ICT Development Index and
WTIS Newsroom here.
An Executive Summary of the Measuring the Information Society Report
2015 can be found here.
Journalists wishing to receive a free copy of the full report in PDF
format should contact Lucy Spencer at the ITU Press Office at
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Download photos of the launch and WTIS event
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