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ITU Digital Access Index: World’s First Global ICT Ranking
Education and Affordability Key to Boosting New Technology Adoption

Geneva, 19 November 2003 — The first global index to rank Information and Communication Technology (ICT) access has turned up some surprises. Slovenia ties France; and the Republic of Korea, usually not among the top ten in international ICT rankings, comes in fourth. Apart from Canada, ranked 10th, the top ten economies are exclusively Asian and European. The Digital Access Index (DAI) distinguishes itself from other indices by including a number of new variables, such as education and affordability. It also covers a total of 178 economies, which makes it the first truly global ICT ranking.

Countries are classified into one of four digital access categories: high, upper, medium and low. Those in the upper category include mainly nations from Central and Eastern Europe, the Caribbean, Gulf States and emerging Latin American nations. Many have used ICTs as a development enabler and government policies have helped them reach an impressive level of ICT access. This includes major ICT projects such as the Dubai Internet City in the United Arab Emirates (the highest ranked Arab nation in the DAI), the Multimedia Super Corridor in Malaysia (the highest ranked developing Asian nation) and the Cyber City in Mauritius (along with Seychelles, the highest ranked African nation). The DAI will be a useful tool for tracking the future advancement of these ambitious emerging economies.

The four Asian Tigers have made the greatest progress in ICTs over the last four years. The results suggest that English is no longer a decisive factor in quick technology adoption, especially as more content is made available in other languages.

The DAI forms part of the ITU's upcoming 2003 edition of the World Telecommunication Development Report (WTDR). Published to coincide with the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), it will be a vital reference for governments, international development agencies, non-governmental organizations and the private sector to assess national conditions in information and communications technology.

Redefining ICT potential 

The results of the International Telecommunication Union's new Digital Access Index suggest that it is time to redefine ICT access potential. "Until now, limited infrastructure has often been regarded as the main barrier to bridging the Digital Divide," says Michael Minges of the Market, Economics and Finance Unit at ITU. "Our research, however, suggests that affordability and education are equally important factors." To measure the overall ability of individuals to access and use ICTs, the ITU study has gone beyond the organization's traditional focus on telecommunication infrastructure, such as mobile phones and fixed telephone lines.

For example, nearly 40 percent of Peruvians responding to a survey said they either did not have a computer or could not afford Internet services, which points to affordability as a critical success factor. Research has also shown that Internet use is closely linked to education. In China over half of all Internet users are university educated. To acknowledge such findings, the Index includes a number of new criteria, such as school enrolment and Internet tariffs as a percentage of income.

The DAI combines eight variables, covering five areas, to provide an overall country score. The areas are availability of infrastructure, affordability of access, educational level, quality of ICT services, and Internet usage. The results of the Index point to potential stumbling blocks in ICT adoption and can help countries identify their relative strengths and weaknesses.

The DAI overcomes other limitations of other ICT indices. Besides its global scope, its carefully chosen variables guarantee transparency. The DAI concentrates on factors that have an immediate impact on determining an individual's potential to access ICTs. It deliberately omits variables subject to qualitative judgment such as the regulatory environment. "Market structure and degree of competition are open to levels of interpretation," explains Minges. "We purposely exclude qualitative factors - to avoid subjective bias in the calculation."

Information Societies Need Better Tools to Set Targets, Gauge Progress 

ITU's efforts to identify indicators for measuring ICT access reflects a growing trend by the international community towards the use of transparent and concrete measurements for monitoring country performance. The United Nations has adopted a set of development targets, the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and associated indicators to monitor progress towards the reduction of poverty, hunger and other areas. Access to ICTs is included in the MDGs and laid out in Target 18: "In cooperation with the private sector make available the benefits of new technologies, specifically information and communication." The DAI provides a concrete tool to help measure this key target.

The discussion around ICT is particularly important, given the recognition that widespread access can boost economic development and improve citizens' lives. The Internet allows instant access to information from anywhere, anytime and holds major promises in improving health care, delivering education and protecting the environment. ICTs have equally been identified as a crucial tool to overcome other development goals, including the MDGs.

The complete report provides an overview of indicators used to measure access to the information society; looks at take-up of information technology in business, education and government; and examines the role between ICTs and the UN Millennium Development Goals. The WTDR will be launched in early December just prior to WSIS, at a key UN meeting on monitoring the information society.

For more information contact indicators@itu.int.

Online media accreditation/registration for the Geneva Phase of WSIS is available here

About ITU

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Digital Access Index 2002

HIGH ACCESS UPPER ACCESS MEDIUM ACCESS LOW ACCESS
Sweden0.85
Denmark0.83
Iceland0.82
Korea (Rep.)0.82
Norway0.79
Netherlands0.79
Hong Kong, China0.79
Finland0.79
Taiwan, China0.79
Canada0.78
United States0.78
United Kingdom0.77
Switzerland0.76
Singapore0.75
Japan0.75
Luxembourg0.75
Austria0.75
Germany0.74
Australia0.74
Belgium0.74
New Zealand0.72
Italy0.72
France0.72
Slovenia0.72
Israel0.70
Ireland0.69
Cyprus0.68
Estonia0.67
Spain0.67
Malta0.67
Czech Republic0.66
Greece0.66
Portugal0.65
UAE0.64
Macao, China0.64
Hungary0.63
Bahamas0.62
Bahrain0.60
St. Kitts and Nevis0.60
Poland0.59
Slovak Republic0.59
Croatia0.59
Chile0.58
Antigua & Barbuda0.57
Barbados0.57
Malaysia0.57
Lithuania0.56
Qatar0.55
Brunei Darussalam0.55
Latvia0.54
Uruguay0.54
Seychelles0.54
Dominica0.54
Argentina0.53
Trinidad & Tobago0.53
Bulgaria0.53
Jamaica0.53
Costa Rica0.52
St. Lucia0.52
Kuwait0.51
Grenada0.51
Mauritius0.50
Russia0.50
Mexico0.50
Brazil0.50
Belarus0.49
Lebanon0.48
Thailand0.48
Romania0.48
Turkey0.48
TFYR Macedonia0.48
Panama0.47
Venezuela0.47
Belize0.47
St. Vincent0.46
Bosnia0.46
Suriname0.46
South Africa0.45
Colombia0.45
Jordan0.45
Serbia & Montenegro0.45
Saudi Arabia0.44
Peru0.44
China0.43
Fiji0.43
Botswana0.43
Iran (I.R.)0.43
Ukraine0.43
Guyana0.43
Philippines0.43
Oman0.43
Maldives0.43
Libya0.42
Dominican Rep.0.42
Tunisia0.41
Ecuador0.41
Kazakhstan0.41
Egypt0.40
Cape Verde0.39
Albania0.39
Paraguay0.39
Namibia0.39
Guatemala0.38
El Salvador0.38
Palestine0.38
Sri Lanka0.38
Bolivia0.38
Cuba0.38
Samoa0.37
Algeria0.37
Turkmenistan0.37
Georgia0.37
Swaziland0.37
Moldova0.37
Mongolia0.35
Indonesia0.34
Gabon0.34
Morocco0.33
India0.32
Kyrgyzstan0.32
Uzbekistan0.31
Viet Nam0.31
Armenia0.30
Zimbabwe0.29
Honduras0.29
Syria0.28
Papua New Guinea0.26
Vanuatu0.24
Pakistan0.24
Azerbaijan0.24
S. Tomé & Principe0.23
Tajikistan0.21
Equatorial Guinea0.20
Kenya0.19
Nicaragua0.19
Lesotho0.19
Nepal0.19
Bangladesh0.18
Yemen0.18
Togo0.18
Solomon Islands0.17
Cambodia0.17
Uganda0.17
Zambia0.17
Myanmar0.17
Congo0.17
Cameroon0.16
Ghana0.16
Lao P.D.R.0.15
Malawi0.15
Tanzania0.15
Haiti0.15
Nigeria0.15
Djibouti0.15
Rwanda0.15
Madagascar0.15
Mauritania0.14
Senegal0.14
Gambia0.13
Bhutan0.13
Sudan0.13
Comoros0.13
Côte d'Ivoire0.13
Eritrea0.13
D.R. Congo0.12
Benin0.12
Mozambique0.12
Angola0.11
Burundi0.10
Guinea0.10
Sierra Leone0.10
Central Af. Rep.0.10
Ethiopia0.10
Guinea-Bissau0.10
Chad0.10
Mali0.09
Burkina Faso0.08
Niger0.04

Note: On a scale of 0 to 1 where 1 = highest access. DAI values are shown to hundreds of a decimal point. Countries with the same DAI value are ranked by thousands of a decimal point.

Source: ITU

Highlights of Digital Access Index (DAI), 2002

Rank Overall Economy DAI   Rank Overall Economy DAI
Top 5 in Sub-Saharan Africa   Top 5 in the Arab region
1 52 Seychelles 0.54   1 34 United Arab Emirates 0.64
2 62 Mauritius 0.50   2 42 Bahrain 0.584
3 78 South Africa 0.45   3 48 Qatar 0.55
4 86 Botswana 0.43   4 60 Kuwait 0.51
5 99 Cape Verde 0.39   5 67 Lebanon 0.48
 
Top 10 in Americas
1 10 Canada 0.78   6 44 Antigua & Barbuda 0.57
2 11 United States 0.78   7 45 Barbados 0.57
3 37 Bahamas 0.62   8 51 Uruguay 0.54
4 38 St. Kitts and Nevis 0.60   9 53 Dominica 0.54
5 43 Chile 0.58   10 54 Argentina 0.53
 
Top 5 in developed Asia-Pacific   Top 5 in developing Asia-Pacific
1 4 Korea (Rep.) 0.82   1 46 Malaysia 0.57
2 7 Hong Kong, China 0.79   2 49 Brunei Darussalam 0.55
3 9 Taiwan, China 0.79   3 68 Thailand 0.48
4 14 Singapore 0.75   4 84 China 0.43
5 15 Japan 0.75   5 85 Fiji 0.43
 
Top 5 in Western Europe   Top 5 in Central and Eastern Europe
1 1 Sweden 0.85   1 24 Slovenia 0.72
2 2 Denmark 0.83   2 26 Estonia 0.69
3 3 Iceland 0.82   3 32 Czech Republic 0.66
4 5 Norway 0.79   4 36 Hungary 0.63
5 6 Netherlands 0.79   5 39 Poland 0.59
 
Top 5 gains in ranking, 1998-2002   Top 5 drops in ranking, 1998-2002
Rank '98 Rank '02 Economy Change   Rank '98 Rank '02 Economy Change
24 4 Korea (Rep.) 20   12 21 New Zealand -9
22 9 Taiwan, China 13   11 19 Australia -8
20 14 Singapore 6   30 36 South Africa -6
13 7 Hong Kong, China 6   17 23 France -6
7 2 Denmark 5   5 11 United States -6
Relative to 40 economies for which data was available in 1998.

Digital Access Index Technical Note

The Digital Access Index (DAI) measures the overall ability of individuals in a country to access and use Information and Communication Technology. It consists of eight variables organized into five categories. Each variable is converted to an indicator with a value between zero and one by dividing it by the maximum value or "goalpost". Each indicator is then weighted within its category and the resulting category index values are averaged to obtain the overall DAI value.

Category

Variable

Values for Hong Kong, China

Goal-post

Indicator

Weight

Category index

1. Infrastructure
1. Fixed telephone subscribers per 100 inhabitants
2. Mobile cellular subscribers per 100 inhabitants
56.6 /
 
91.6 /
60 =
 
100 =
0.94 *
 
0.92 *
(1/2) =
 
(1/2) =
0.47 0.93
 =
0.46
2. Affordability
3.1 - (Internet access price as percentage of Gross National Income per capita)
99.8 /
100 =
0.998 *
1 =
0.998  
3. Knowledge
4. Adult Literacy
5. Combined primary, secondary and tertiary school enrolment level
93.5 /
 
63.05 /
100 =
 
100 =
0.94 *
 
0.63 *
(2/3) =
 
(1/3) =
0.620.83
 =
0.21
4. Quality
6. International Internet bandwidth (bits) per capita
7. Broadband subscribers per 100 inhabitants
1'867 /
 
14.6 /
10'000 =
 
30 =
0.88a *
 
0.49 *
(1/2) =
 
(1/2) =
0.440.68
 =
0.24
5. Usage
8. Internet users per 100 inhabitants
43.0 /
85 =
0.51 *
1 =
0.51  
Digital Access Index (Average of 5 categories above) 0.79
Note: a) Because of the large spread of values among economies, a logarithm is used to calculate this value:
(LOG (1’867) – LOG (0.01)) / (LOG (10’000) – LOG (0.01))

Top five economies by DAI categories, 2002

Infrastructure: Top 5 by fixed telephone subscribers per 100 inhabitants   Infrastructure: Top 5 by mobile cellular subscribers per 100 inhabitants
1 Sweden 65.25   1 Taiwan, China 106.5
2 United States 65.02   2 Luxembourg 105.4
3 Cyprus 62.44   3 Israel 95.5
4 Canada 61.30   4 Italy 92.5
5 Taiwan, China 57.45   5 Hong Kong, China 91.6
Source: ITU World Telecommunication Indicator database.   Source: ITU World Telecommunication Indicator database.

 

Affordability: Top 5 by Internet tariff as percentage of per capita income
1 Hong Kong, China 0.19
2 United States 0.51
3 Singapore 0.64
4 Denmark 0.68
5 Canada 0.68

Note: Calculated as cheapest price for 20 hours of Internet use per month divided by per capita income from the World Bank.

Source: ITU

 
Knowledge: Top by UNDP Education index
  Literacy School enrolment Education index
Australia 99 114 0.99
Belgium 99 107 0.99
Denmark 99 98 0.99
Finland 99 103 0.99
Netherlands 99 99 0.99
New Zealand 99 99 0.99
Norway 99 98 0.99
Sweden 99 113 0.99
United Kingdom 99 112 0.99
Note: The Education index is calculated as (2/3) times the literacy rate and (1/3) the school enrolment. Countries are shown in alphabetical order. The methodology and data are from the UNDP.

 

Quality: Top 5 by broadband Internet subscribers per 100 inhabitants   Quality: Top 5 by International Internet bandwidth (bits) per inhabitant
1 Korea (Rep.) 21.9   1 Denmark 20'284
2 Hong Kong, China 14.6   2 Sweden 10'611
3 Canada 11.1   3 Netherlands 10'327
4 Taiwan, China 9.4   4 Switzerland 8'991
5 Belgium 8.4   5 Belgium 8'121
Source: ITU World Telecommunication Indicator database.   Source: ITU World Telecommunication Indicator database.
 
Usage: Top 5 by Internet users per 100 inhabitants
1 Iceland 64.9
2 Sweden 57.3
3 Korea (Rep.) 55.2
4 United States 55.1
5 Japan 54.5
Source: ITU World Telecommunication Indicator database.

 

 

 

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