Committed to connecting the world

SDG

The ITU ICT SDG indicators

Indicator 4.4.1: Proportion of youth and adults with ICT skills, by type of skills

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Skills development remains crucial to connect the unconnected

Insufficient skills are often mentioned as an impediment to meaningful connectivity. SDG indicator 4.4.1 provides information on the various types of ICT skills individuals possess. Because self-reporting of individuals’ ICT skills may be subjective, ICT skills are measured based on whether an individual has recently performed certain activities that require different levels of skill. To facilitate reporting, these activities have been grouped together in three broader categories: basic skills, standard skills and advanced skills. Basic skills are relatively simple tasks, such as moving a file or folder, or sending an e-mail with an attachment. Standard skills include working with spreadsheets, creating electronic presentations or installing and configuring software. Advanced skills are being able to programme or code1.​​

The three charts below provide information on the level of ICT skills in the countries for which data are available for any of the three most recent years. Based on these data, a tentative conclusion is overall skill levels need to be improved in many countries, if they want to fully benefit from the digital transformation.


Percentage of people with basic ICT skills, latest year available in 2018-2020

































Source: ITU
​Notes: For each economy, the value for basic skills is the average value of the available recent data for following four activities: copying or moving a file or folder, using copy and paste tools to duplicate or move information within a document, sending e-mails with attached files, and transferring files between a computer and other devices.
The designations employed and the presentation of material on this map do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of ITU and of the Secretariat of the ITU concerning the legal status of the country, territory, city or area or its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. 

​In 40 per cent of the countries for which data are available, less than 40 per cent of individuals reported having carried out one of the activities that comprise basic skills, e.g. sending an e-mail with an attachment, in the previous three months. In just 23 per cent of the countries did more than 60 per cent of individuals report one of the basic skills activities.​


Percentage of people with standard ICT skills, latest year available in 2018-2020 


































Source: ITU
​Notes: For each economy, the value for standard skills is the average value of the available recent data for following four activities: using basic arithmetic formula in a spreadsheet; connecting and installing new devices; creating electronic presentations with presentation software; and finding, downloading, installing and configuring software.
The designations employed and the presentation of material on this map do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of ITU and of the Secretariat of the ITU concerning the legal status of the country, territory, city or area or its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. 


As for the standard skills components, such as creating an electronic slide presentation, in almost 70 per cent of the countries less than 40 per cent of individuals had used them in that time. In only 3 of the 76 countries for which data are available did more than 60 per cent of individuals report performing some of those activities.


​Percentage of people with advanced ICT skills, latest year available in 2018-2020 


































Source: ITU
Notes: For each economy, the value for advanced skills is the value for writing a computer program using a specialized programming language.
The designations employed and the presentation of material on this map do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of ITU and of the Secretariat of the ITU concerning the legal status of the country, territory, city or area or its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. 


Finally, concerning advanced skills, only 15 per cent of the countries had more than 10 per cent of individuals report that they had written a computer program using a specialized programming language in that time.

Furthermore, for all skill categories, the available data show large differences in skill levels between age groups and between occupations, but relatively smaller differences between men and women, especially at younger ages.


​​​​​​​​​​Indicator 4.4.1 is the global indicator for SDG Target 4.4: By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including tec​​hnical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship. ​

The data can be found in the World Telecommunication/ICT Indicat​ors Database  and in the UN SDG Indicators Database. The meta​data​ are also available on the UN website. For more SDG analysis, visit the UN Sustainable Developments Report 2021 or the Extended Report for SDG Goal 4​.​​


Indicator 5.b.1: Proportion of individuals who own a mobile telephone, by sex

Mobile phone ownership becoming ubiquitous, but disparities remain

Ownership of mobile phones is an important tool to reduce gender inequality. Empowering more women with mobile phones has been shown to accelerate social and economic development. However, a gender gap for this indicator is persistent, although it seems to be getting smaller. 


Percentage of individuals owning a mobile phone, latest year in 2018-2020 

































Source: ITU
​Note: The designations employed and the presentation of material on this map do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of ITU and of the Secretariat of the ITU concerning the legal status of the country, territory, city or area or its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. 


In almost half of the countries for which data are available for the 2018-2020 timeframe, more than 90 per cent of the population own a mobile phone. For another 10 countries, that figure lay between 80 and 90 per cent. In only 3 countries was the share below one-half of the population, the lowest at 45 per cent.


Gender parity score for mobile phone ownership, latest year in 2018-2020 

































Source: ITU
Notes: The gender parity score is calculated as the proportion of women who own a mobile phone divided by the proportion of men who own a mobile phone. A value smaller than 1 indicates a larger proportion among men than among women. A value greater than 1 indicates the opposite. Values between 0.98 and 1.02 reflect gender parity.
The designations employed and the presentation of material on this map do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of ITU and of the Secretariat of the ITU concerning the legal status of the country, territory, city or area or its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. 


Ownership of mobile phones has been shown to be an important tool to empower women, and it appears that the world is moving to greater gender equality in this regard. In one-half of the 60 countries for which data are available for the 2018-2020 timeframe, gender parity in mobile phone ownership has been achieved, and in ten more countries, more women than men own a mobile phone. Nevertheless, in 21 countries, women lag behind men in mobile phone ownership, in some cases by a large margin. In most of the countries that had a large gender gap in mobile phone ownership, a large gender gap in Internet usage can be observed as well (indicator 17.8.1).​


​​Indicator 5.b.1 is the global indicator for SDG Target 5.b: Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communicatio​ns technology,​ to promote the empowerment of women.

The data can be found in the World Telecommunication​/ICT Indicat​ors Database and in the UN SDG Indicators Database. The meta​data are also available on the UN website. For more SDG analysis, visit the UN Sustainable Developments Report 2021 or the Extended Report for SDG Goal 5.

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Indicator 9.c.1: Proportion of population covered by a mobile network, by technology


Most of the world population is covered by a mobile-broadband signal, but blind spots remain

In most developing countries, mobile broadband (3G or above) is the main way—and often the only way—to connect to the Internet. It is a necessary condition, but not a sufficient one, as potential users face several other barriers to connectivity.


​Population  coverage by type of mobile network, 2015-2021























Source: ITU
​Note: The values for 2G and 3G networks show the incremental percentage of population that is not covered by a more advanced technology network (e.g. 95% of the world population is covered by a 3G network, that is 7% + 88%). 


Ninety-five per cent of the world population now has access to a mobile broadband network. Between 2015 and 2021, 4G network coverage doubled to reach 88 per cent of the world’s population.


Population  coverage by type of mobile network, 2021































Source: ITU
Note: The values for 2G and 3G networks show the incremental percentage of population that is not covered by a more advanced technology network (e.g. 95% of the world population is covered by a 3G network, that is 7% + 88%). 


In four of the six ITU regions, mobile broadband coverage (3G or above) is available to 90 per cent of the population, and the CIS region is very close to that mark (89 per cent). The coverage gap remains significant in Africa, where, despite a 21 per cent increase in 4G coverage since 2020, 18 per cent of the population remains without any access to a mobile broadband network. Almost as many (17 per cent) lack such access in LDCs and LLDCs, thereby falling short of target 9.c of Sustainable Development Goal 9: to “significantly increase access to information and communications technology and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries by 2020.”

While virtually all urban areas in the world are covered by a mobile broadband network, many gaps persist in rural areas. In Africa, 18 per cent of the rural population has no mobile network coverage at all, and another 11 per cent has only 2G coverage. This means that almost 30 per cent of the rural population cannot access the Internet. The coverage gap is almost as significant in the Americas, where 22 per cent of the rural population is not covered at all and another 4 per cent is covered only by 2G.

 
​​Indicator 9.c.1 is the global indicator for SDG Target 9.c: Significantly increase access to information and communications technology and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries by 2020.

The data can be found in the World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Database  and in the UN SDG Indicators Database. The m​eta​data are also available on the UN website. For more SDG analysis, visit the UN Sustainable Developments Report 2021 or the Extended Report for SDG Goal 9.


Indicator 17.6.1: Fixed Internet broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, by speed


Fixed-broadband subscriptions continue to grow

Fixed-broadband has a significant impact on the world economy. An increase of 1 per cent in fixed-broadband penetration has been found to be associated with an increase in 0.08 per cent in gross domestic product (GDP), on average. This impact is guided by a return to scale effect, according to which the economic impact of fixed-broadband is higher in more developed countries than in less developed countries. The data show that this is due to the fact that very few people are connected to a fixed network in developing countries, especially in the least developed countries (LDCs). 


Fixed-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, by development status 




























Source: ITU
 

Fixed broadband subscriptions continue to grow steadily, attaining 17 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants on a global average in 2021. In the LDCs, despite double-digit growth, fixed broadband remains the privilege of a few, with only 1.4 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants.

At the global level, the number of fixed broadband subscriptions has been higher than that of fixed telephony since 2017.


Fixed-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, by region, 2021 

























​Source: ITU 


​​Indicator 17.6.1 is the global indicator for SDG 17.6: Enhance North-South, South-South and triangular regional and international cooperation on and access to science, technology and innovation and enhance knowledge sharing on mutually agreed terms, including through improved coordination among existing mechanisms, in particular at the United Nations level, and through a global technology facilitation mechanism.  

The data can be found in the World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Database  and in the UN SDG Indicators Database. The meta​d​ata are also available on the UN website.​ For more SDG analysis, visit the UN Sustainable Developments Report 2021 or the Extended Report for SDG Goal 17.


Indicator 17.8.1: Proportion of individuals using the Internet


Internet uptake has accelerated during the pandemic

The Internet has long been a source of countless opportunities for personal fulfilment, professional development and value creation. With the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become a vital necessity for working, learning, accessing basic services and keeping in touch.


Individuals using the Internet 




























Source: ITU 


The latest ITU data show that uptake of the Internet has accelerated during the pandemic. In 2019, 4.1 billion people (or 54 per cent of the world’s population) were using the Internet. Since then the number of users has surged by 782 million to reach 4.9 billion people in 2021, or 63 per cent of the population.

Nonetheless, this means that some 2.9 billion people remain offline, 96 per cent of whom live in developing countries. Those who remain unconnected face multiple barriers, including a lack of access: some 390 million people are not even covered by a mobile broadband signal ​(see indicator 9.c.1 above).

In 2020, the first year of the pandemic, the number of Internet users grew by 10.2 per cent, the largest increase in a decade, driven by developing countries where Internet use went up 13.3 per cent. In 2021, growth has returned to a more modest 5.8 per cent, in line with pre-crisis rates.


Percentage of individuals using the Internet, 2021 




























Source: ITU 


Between 2019 and 2021, Internet use in Africa and the Asia-Pacific region jumped by 23 per cent and 24 per cent, respectively. Over the same period, the number of Internet users in the least developed countries (LDCs) increased by 20 per cent and now accounts for 27 per cent of the population. Growth has been necessarily much weaker in developed economies, given that Internet use is already almost universal, at more than 90 per cent.

This growth differential has contributed to a modest narrowing of the divide between the world’s most and least-connected countries: for example, the divide between developed economies and the LDCs went from 66 percentage points in 2017 to 63 percentage points in 2021.


​​Indicator 17.8.1 is the global indicator for SDG 17.8: Fully operationalize the technology bank and science, technology and innova​tion capacity-building mechanism for least developed countries by 2017 and enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular inform​ation and communications technology. 

The data can be found in the World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Database  and in the UN SDG Indicators Database. The meta​d​ata​ are also available on the UN website. For more SDG analysis, visit the UN Sustainable Developments Report 2021 or the Extended Report for SDG Goal 17​.


1 Of note is that the activities to measure ICT skills have been revised, which will be implemented starting with the 2021 data collection.​