Northern Europe dominates new ICT index; digital divide remains

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I was sent details this week of a new development index that the ITU has published. The index compares information communications technology (ICT) developments in 154 countries over a five year period from 2002 to 2007. It combines 11 indicators into a single measure that can be used to benchmark countries across the rest of the world, including access to ICT, households with a computer, number of Internet users; and literacy levels.
By this benchmark the index found that the most advanced ICT countries were all in Northern Europe, particularly the  Scandinavian countries, and the only non-European country in the top ten was South Korea. Perhaps surprisingly top ICT nations such as the US and Japan were not in the top 10, as shown in the chart below:
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The ITU says that the last five years has seen great strides in ICT levels in virtually all countries, with Eastern Europe in particular seeing massive gains. Some countries in the developing world have also made major progress in ICT in this period, notably, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, China and Viet Nam. However, many of the poorest developing countries have seen little change in their position since 2002 and the report finds that the magnitude of the digital divide remains as wide as it was in 2002. 
The report also published some key ICT indicators which run to the end of 2008. Clearly one of the biggest changes has been the massive growth in mobile telephony, and there are now more than three times as many active mobile lines than fixed, with the developing world in particular benefiting. The ITU also estimates that 23% of global inhabitants used the Internet by the end of 2008, with Africa lagging with just 5% penetration. 

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Anthony Plewes

After a Masters in Computer Science, I decided that I preferred writing about IT rather than programming. My 20-year writing career has taken me to Hong Kong and London where I've edited and written for IT, business and electronics publications. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Stewart Baines where I continue to write about a range of topics such as unified communications, cloud computing and enterprise applications.