On Monday, 25 November, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) published its Measuring the Information Society Report 2014 in which it highlights key technology and developments worldwide and tracks the cost and affordability of telecommunications services as of the end of 2013.
In Measuring the Information Society (MIS) report, Jamaica has an IDI of 4.26 moving from 3.68 and a ranking of 93 in the last report .
The report includes the results of the organisation’s review of information and communications Technology (ICT) development globally, through its ICT Development Index. The IDI includes 11 indicators organised under three sub-indices: ICT access, ICT use and ICT skills.
Thirteen Caribbean countries were among the 166 economies assessed: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.
The majority of Caribbean countries slipped positions since the 2012 IDI exercise. The exceptions were Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago, which improved their positions in the index, whilst Guyana and Saint Lucia, retained its 2012 ranking.
But most Caribbean countries’ IDI scores improved compared with the previous year, which was generally the trend across the set of countries.
It could be that the decline in ranking that many Caribbean countries experienced could be attributed to the marked improvements that other countries worldwide have made.
As reflected by the overall IDI scores and rankings, Barbados, followed by Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Antigua and Barbuda generally performed the best across the three sub-indices (access, use and skills). The most notable exception was Cuba, which overall had an IDI score of 2.77 and was ranked 125th out of 166 countries, but again the ITU reported that Cuba’s score for ICT skills was quite high—44th among the 166 countries.
The Caribbean group performed relatively well under the ICT access and skills sub-indices, which indicates that the region has a reasonably good handle on matters related to telecommunications infrastructure and education.
But not unlike last year’s assessment, the region appears to be challenged with regard to ICT readiness, based on the actual use of the Internet and take-up of both wired and wireless broadband subscriptions densities.
In summary, and as reflected in other assessments conducted by other organisations, Caribbean countries still have not established the necessary systems to facilitate better use of technology by their citizens.
The IDI scores not only reflect that the region is still lagging behind in relation to ICT development, it also suggests that they might not be positioning themselves for the possibilities and opportunities that could emerge from a more focused effort towards becoming Information Societies.
The ITU published the annual global ICT (Information and Communication Technology) data and ICT development country ratings where Denmark emerged at the top rank with an IDI of 8.86.
The report is widely recognised 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, financial institutions and private sector analysts worldwide.
The IDI has a global average of 4.77 with two thirds of the people presently online living in developing countries while many of the Least Connected countries, home to almost 2.5 billion people, still remain out of reach of ICT.
The latest data show that Internet use continues to grow steadily, at 6.6% globally in 2014 (3.3% in developed countries, 8.7% in the developing world). The number of Internet users in developing countries has doubled in five years (2009-2014), with two thirds of all people online now living in the developing world, states an ITU press release.
Of the six regions, Africa has the lowest IDI average of 2.31 and Europe has the highest at 7.41 and the Asia-Pacific region with its great diversity sees many variations in the IDI rankings of the countries with stark differences in the economy of the region.