Snapshot: 2017 update of the status of ICT development in the Caribbean

A 2017 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 2017 in which it highlights key ICT developments worldwide and examines the state of ICT development globally, through its ICT Development Index. In this post, we highlight how well the Caribbean/CARICOM countries included in this year’s 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 comprises 11 indicators organised under three pillars: ICT access; ICT use; and ICT skills, as shown in Figure 1.  The indicators and weightings have remained unchanged over the past three years.

Figure 1: IDI Indicators and weights used to determine 2017 IDI (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, 176 economies worldwide were examined, including 16 Caribbean/CARICOM countries.

The Caribbean’s IDI results

The following Caribbean countries were included in the 2017 IDI review: Antigua and Barbuda; the Bahamas, Barbados; Belize; Cuba; Dominica; Dominican Republic; Grenada; Guyana; Haiti, Jamaica; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Suriname; and Trinidad anf Tobago. Their 2017 IDI ranking and scores are shown in Table 1.

Table 1: 2017 IDI country rankings and scores for the top 10 economies, plus select Caribbean countries (Source: ITU)

Generally, the 2017 IDI scores for all but one Caribbean countries improved since last year’s exercise, but are not necessarily reflected in their ranking among all the countries assessed. For example, the following six countries that slipped in the ranking though they had considerably better IDI scores were:

  • Saint Kitts and Nevis, which scored 7.18 and was ranked 35th in 2016, scored 57.24 in 2017, but slipped two places to 37th
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, which scored 5.27 and was ranked 80th in 2016, scored 5.54 in 2017, but slipped two places to 82nd
  • Jamaica, which scored 4.63 and was ranked 96th in 2016, scored 4.84 in 2017, but slipped two places to 98th
  • Saint Lucia, which scored 4.53 and was ranked 99th in 2016, scored 4.63 in 2017, but slipped five places to 104th
  • Belize, which scored 3.54 and was ranked 120th in 2016, scored 3.71 in 2017, but was still ranked 120th
  • Guyana, which scored 3.44 and was ranked 121st in 2016, scored 3.44 in 2017, but slipped three places to 124th
  • Cuba, which scored 2.80 and was ranked 135th in 2016, scored 2.91 in 2017, but slipped two places to 137th

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 in 2017 assessment (Source: ITU)

As reflected by the overall IDI scores and rankings, the countries that performed consistently well across the three sub-indices placed higher in the final list. Across the Caribbean group, and similar to previous years, the countries continue to perform 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, they are still challenged in harnessing ICT, based on the actual take-up (of both wired and wireless broadband subscriptions densities) and use of Internet.

Again, the IDI results suggest that as individual countries and a region, the Caribbean still has not established the requisite systems, nor have they implemented adequate initiatives, that promote better use of technology by their citizens.  It is emphasised that IDI scores not only reflect that the region is still lagging behind in relation to ICT development, but also suggests that countries are still not yet capitalizing on the broad range of benefits driven by technology that all countries how to realise: social and economic development.


Image credit:  Pixabay (Pexels)