ICT Development Index, Africa is still behind

The ICT Development Index (IDI) is a study that the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) uses to measure the degree of development in the information technology and communications sector worldwide. The last report confirms that Africa still has a long way to go.

ICT Development Index, a complex instrument

The IDI is an official tool with which, on a global level, one can measure the health of the ICT sector. The goal is to express numerically, on a scale of 1 to 10, the relative assessments in 4 different areas: ICT development, progress made over time, the depth of the digital divide between different countries and the potential for future growth.

To obtain these results, the ITU devised a complex index that puts together 11 different indicators split up into 3 macro areas:

  1. ICT Access: registers the level of infrastructure development
  2. ICT Use: measures the intensity of usage of ICT technologies
  3. ICT Skills: calculates the socio-cultural substrate of the country, to see how ready it is to take advantage of ICT for economic growth

The state of the art in Africa

Taking a look at the data in the ICT Development Index related to Africa, one sees how the road to digitalisation is still a long one for this continent. The countries in this area score the lowest points: only Mauritius is over the global average, and only 4 countries (out of 37 analysed) are in the top 100.

Nigeria and South Africa, the largest African economies, rank respectively 134 and 88; Chad is in the very last place with only 0.88 points. Compared with 2010, however, the performances by Ghana (+21 places), Lesotho (+13), Cape Verde (+11) and Mali (+10) come out looking good. The average score for the continent is 5.41 points, better than the 4.31 in 2010 but still far below the other geographical areas, which exceed 7 points. From this, one can conclude that important progress has taken place over the years, but that Africa continues to need strong investments to make a real turnaround.