Table of Contents

  • The speed at which information and communication technologies (ICTs) have diffused around the world has vastly exceeded the expectations voiced at the World Summit on the Information Society gatherings in 2003 and 2005. More than half the world’s people now have access to such technologies, and especially to mobile telephones. Moreover, mobile applications have become more than just tools for talking. Some least developed countries are pioneering new forms of mobile usage, for example to access information and to facilitate banking transactions and trade.

  • The Information Economy Report 2009 was prepared by a team comprising Torbjörn Fredriksson (team leader), Cécile Barayre, Scarlett Fondeur Gil, Rémi Lang, Irina Stanyukova and Marie Triboulet (intern) under the overall guidance of Mongi Hamdi.

  • Over the past few decades, information and communication technologies (ICTs) have proven to be atremendous accelerator of economic and social progress. They have opened up a previously unimaginablearray of possibilities in both developed and developing countries. The speed at which ICTs are diffusing has taken many observers by surprise. This is in no small part thanks to the mobile revolution. With morethan 4 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide, one of the targets set by world leaders at the World Summiton the Information Society – that more than half of the world’s population should have ready access to ICTs – may have been reached seven years ahead of schedule. But as emphasized in the Information Economy Report 2009, there is no room for complacency. Despite positive developments towards narrowing the digital divide, there is a long unfinished agenda to address in order to create a truly inclusive information society for all.

  • In many regards, the diffusion of information and communication technologies (ICTs) has gone faster than expected. Indeed, one target set by world leaders at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) to ensure that more than half the world’s inhabitants have access to ICTs within their reach 1 by 2015 has already been met - largely thanks to the mobile revolution. Nonetheless, there is no room for complacency. While mobile telephony has contributed to narrowing one aspect of the digital divide, it cannot respond to all ICT needs. Many development challenges still remain and new ones are emerging.

  • The extent to which improvements in ICT infrastructure and access translate into economic growth and development is greatly affected by the way such technologies are used in the productive sector. Indeed only when ICTs are effectively applied can there be a significant positive effect on corporate turnover and productivity. Thus, it is no surprise that countries are increasingly interested in measuring how ICTs are used as well as the related impacts. The need for such information has been accentuated by the economic crisis, as it could help policy makers understand how ICTs may contribute to economic recovery

  • Information and communication technologies constitute an important part of world trade. Moreover, a growing share of exports of both ICT goods and services is accounted for by developing economies, especially in Asia. Trade patterns have already been affected by the current economic crisis, but the impact differs considerably between goods and services. While ICT goods are among those products IT and ICT that have been the most affected by the recession related services appear to be more resilient. Many companies see the offshoring of services as a way to reduce costs and improve their competitiveness.