Snapshot: 2015 update of the status of ICT development in the Caribbean

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

Last week, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) published its Measuring the Information Society Report 2015 in which it highlights key ICT developments worldwide and tracks the cost and affordability of ICT services.  The report also includes the results of the organisation’s review of ICT development globally, through its ICT Development Index. In this post, 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.  They have remained unchanged since the last exercise.

Figure 1: IDI indicators and weightings for 2015 exercise (Source: ITU)
Figure 1: IDI indicators and weightings for 2015 exercise (Source: ITU)

Using the weightings shown for the sub-indices, the resulting IDI can have a maximum score of 10. In the latest IDI exercise, 167 economies were assessed, including 14 Caribbean/CARICOM countries.

The Caribbean’s IDI results

The following Caribbean countries were included in the 2015 IDI review: Antigua and Barbuda; Barbados; Belize; Cuba; Dominica; Dominican Republic; Grenada; Guyana; Jamaica; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; St. Vincent & the Grenadines; Suriname; and Trinidad & Tobago. Their 2015 IDI ranking and scores are shown in Table 1.

IDI 2015 country rankings
Table 1: IDI 2015 country rankings and scores for the top 10 economies, plus select Caribbean countries (Source: ITU)

Generally, and once again, the ranking of Caribbean countries slipped since the 2014 review. The exceptions were: Barbados; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Dominica; Suriname; and Cuba. Further, and similar to last year, most Caribbean countries’ IDI scores improved, i.e. were higher than the previous year, even though they may have slipped in their ranking.

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.

Figure 2: IDI sub-indices scores for select Caribbean countries as of 2015 (Source: ITU)
Figure 2: IDI sub-indices scores for select Caribbean countries as of 2015 (Source: ITU)

As reflected by the overall IDI scores and rankings, Barbados, followed by Antigua and Barbuda and Saint Kitts and Nevis, generally performed the best across the three sub-indices (access, use and skills). The most notable exception continues to be Cuba, which overall had an IDI score of 2.79 and was ranked 129th out of 167 countries, but again scored highly under the ICT skills sub-index, second only to Barbados in the region.

Across the Caribbean group, and similar to previous years, 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,, the countries appear to be still challenged with regard to improving ICT readiness, based on the actual take-up (of both wired and wireless broadband subscriptions densities) and use of Internet.

In summary, and we approach the end of 2015, , the IDI result suggest that as individual countries and a region, the Caribbean still has 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 in a digital society.


 Image credit: Sura Nualpradid (