Snapshot: 2013 update of the status of ICT development in the Caribbean

An update of how well Caribbean countries performed on the latest 2013 ICT Development Index published by the International Telecommunications Union.

On Monday, 25 November, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) published its Measuring the Information Society Report 2014 in which it highlights key ICT developments worldwide and tracks the cost and affordability of ICT services as of the end of 2013. This report also includes the results of the organisation’s review of ICT development globally, through its ICT Development Index. In this report, we highlight how well the Caribbean/CARICOM countries included in the exercise performed, and briefly compare those results with those presented and discussed last year.


The ICT Development Index (IDI) comprises a variety of indicators that monitor and compare ICT development across the countries being assessed. According to the ITU, the IDI’s main objectives are to measure:

  the level and evolution over time of ICT developments in countries and relative to other countries;

–  progress in ICT development in both developed and developing countries: the index should be global and reflect changes taking place in countries at different levels of ICT development;

–  the digital divide, i.e. differences between countries with different levels of ICT development;

–  the development potential of ICTs or the extent to which countries can make use of ICTs to enhance growth and development, based on available capabilities and skills.

(Source: ITU)

The IDI consists of 11 indicators organised under three pillars: ICT access; ICT use; and ICT skills, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1:  IDI indicators and weightings for 2013 exercise (Source: ITU)
Figure 1: IDI indicators and weightings for 2013 exercise (Source: ITU)

Using the weightings shown, the resulting IDI can have a maximum score of 10. In the latest exercise, 166 economies were assessed, including 13 Caribbean/CARICOM countries.

The Caribbean’s IDI results

The following Caribbean countries were included in the 2013 IDI exercise: Antigua and Barbuda; Barbados; Cuba; Dominica; Dominican Republic; Grenada; Guyana; Jamaica; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; St. Vincent & the Grenadines; Suriname; and Trinidad & Tobago. Their 2013 IDI ranking and scores are shown in Table 1.

Table 1:  IDI 2013 country rankings and scores for the top 10 economies, plus select Caribbean countries (Source: ITU)
Table 1: IDI 2013 country rankings and scores for the top 10 economies, plus select Caribbean countries (Source: ITU)

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.

Having said this and similar to last year’s review, most Caribbean countries’ IDI scores improved, i.e. were higher than the previous year, which generally appeared to also be the case across the entire set of countries examined. However, the decline in ranking that many Caribbean countries still experienced could be attributed to the marked improvements that other countries worldwide have made, which resulted in most of the Caribbean countries sliding from their previous positions.

Although the IDI summarises an individual country’s performance, greater insight can be obtained from the sub-indices scores, which are combined to create the final result. Figure 2 shows the sub-indices scores for the Caribbean countries included in the 2013 IDI exercise.

Figure 2:  IDI sub-indices scores for select Caribbean countries as of 2013 (Source: ITU)
Figure 2: IDI sub-indices scores for select Caribbean countries as of 2013 (Source: ITU)

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 ICT skills, was quite high – 44th among the 166 countries assessed.

Across the Caribbean group, the countries performed relatively well under the ICT access and skills sub-indices, which indicate that the region has a reasonably good handle on matters related to telecoms access/infrastructure and education. However, and similar to last year’s assessment, the countries appear to be challenged with regard to ICT readiness, based on the actual take-up (of both wired and wireless broadband subscriptions densities) and use of Internet.

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 eventuate from a more focussed effort towards becoming Information Societies.


 Image credit: Sura Nualpradid (