A recently published report by the ICT Ministry of Iran has analyzed Iran’s status in ICT development. In this article we present and analyze the main findings of the report.

Iran has recognized ICT development as a key to economic development, increase in productivity and sustainable development. ICT is now seen as a fundamental component in strengthening and accelerating employment, education, health and business. Iran has long yearned for a leap in economic, social and cultural development and today ICT is viewed as the infrastructure that will make such a leap possible.

With a global approach in mind, a market-oriented national program of ICT development has been devised that intends to boost ICT development with the bold participation of the private sector, which is planned to provide two third of the necessary investment. The performance of the ICT sector and its share in national development is now closely monitored and measured. According to Iran’s 5th national development program the ministry of ICT is now responsible to deliver detailed annual reports on the issue.

One of the reports that the ICT ministry of Iran relies on, is a report named “Measuring the Information Society”, published annually by the ITU (International Telecommunication Union). This report measures two unique indexes, namely, the ICT development index (IDI) and the

ICT Price Basket (IPB), for countries that provide the required information. This article builds on ITU’s latest report to analyze the current status of ICT development in Iran.

The ITU ICT Development Index (IDI) is a unique benchmark of the level of ICT development in countries across the world. The IDI combines eleven indicators on ICT access, use and skills, capturing key aspects of ICT development in one measure that allows for comparisons across countries and over time.

Before discussing Iran’s ICT development status, we present some major findings of the report:

– Nearly all countries improved their IDI values over the last year; the average IDI rose 0.2 points

  • South Korea still remains on top of the list for IDI
  • A strong relation between ICT and economic development is seen
  • Improvement in ICT use has been greater than ICT access
  • Investment, policy and regulation influence the performance of individual countries
IDI rankings and values, Asia and Paci c region, 2016 and 2015 - Source: ITU Report - Measuring the Informa on Society Report 2016
IDI rankings and values, Asia and Paci c region, 2016 and 2015 – Source: ITU Report – Measuring the Informa on Society Report 2016

Iran’s 2016 IDI is 4.99, 0.92 points above the average for developing countries

The average IDI for developed economies is 7.4, whereas the average for developing economies is 4.07; a rather large gap between the two. Iran’s 2016 IDI is 4.99, 0.92 points above the average for developing countries. Iran is ranked 89 among 175 countries in IDI. In the sub-indexes of access and use Iran has improved slightly from 2015, however, the sub-index of skills remains unchanged.

An important point that is inferred from the ITU report is that there is a significant difference between the sub-indexes of access and use in Iran; a rank difference of 31 in the two sub-indexes is observed. Policymakers should encourage use of ICT and increase demand to address the issue.

Iran was ranked 14th in IDI in the region. In terms of rank improvement Iran was ranked second, behind Jordan. The region consists mostly of Arab countries that have a high IDI, but have failed to improve their rank in recent years.


Price of ICT services

Price of ICT services highly influences how much people use the services. The quality and speed of internet access largely determines the services and applications that people can use. Households in developed countries receive far better speed and quality compared to what they pay for the services. Despite the low speed and quality of internet access, Iran ranks 14 globally in terms of the price of internet access and is one of the cheapest countries in that term.


Mobile phone ownership and usage

While 85% of the world’s population use or own mobile phones, statistics indicate that 72% of Iran’s population use mobile phones and 70% own a mobile phone. Women use mobile phones less than men and people living in urban areas are more likely to own or use a mobile phone. 82% of the people that don’t use or own a mobile phone lack the necessary skills to use the devices and 77% of the group have reported lack of need as their main reason for not owning or using a mobile phone. Although Iran is among the cheapest providers of mobile phone services, 60% of the group that do not own or use a mobile phone have indicated expensiveness as their main reason for not doing so.


Internet usage in Iran

According to this report, approximately 45% of Iran’s population use the internet. The reasons for not using the internet are mainly lack of necessity, insufficient knowledge or skill, cultural limitations, and privacy concerns.

Internet is mainly used for entertainment purposes in Iran. The most reported activity on the internet by users is within social media and other socially interactive services, roughly 65%.

Online gaming and downloading games and movies is the second most observed activity on the internet by Iranian users. The least reported activity by Iranian internet users were distance-working, blogging, online classes and online consulting. To harness the positive economic and social effects of the internet, Iranian users should be incentivized to use the internet for more serious purposes.

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