Towards Evidence Based ICT Policy and Regulation: eSkills


Work data:

Type of work: Working Paper


Digital Literacy | e-Readiness | ICT Infrastructure | ICT4D


This paper is part of a series that contributes to evidence-based Information Communication Technology (ICT) policy formulation and regulation on the continent by providing decision makers with the information and analysis necessary to assess the regulatory impact and policy outcomes of telecommunications reform against actual sector performance.

This paper reports on the findings of the second household and individual user survey of access and usage conducted by ResearchICTAfrica between 2007 and 2008 across 17 African countries. It builds on the first household survey conducted by RIA in 2004/5 and a number of subsequent supply side studies that have demonstrated that across the continent, even where there has been overall sector growth, sector performance has been sub-optimal. For the most part, the primary national policy objectives of delivering affordable telecommunications access have not been met.

The focus of this paper is to link e-skills to readily available indicators and assess the quality of indicators currently used to capture e-skills. For this purposes an index is constructed from self-reported confidence levels for a range of typical computing and Internet skills.

This research adds one tile to the overall picture by identifying an indicator that captures e-skills better than existing indicators in use. Indicators and indices are being used by international organisations such as the ITU to benchmark countries and monitor the impact of policy and regulatory interventions. The latest ITU index, ICT Development Index, uses the adult literacy rate and secondary and tertiary gross enrolment ratios to measure e-skills (ITU, 2009).

This paper finds that tertiary and secondary enrolment indicators do not capture the stock of individuals with completed secondary or tertiary education but only the projected educational output for the coming years. It would however be the second best indicator. Further, adult literacy captures the number of people with basic education and was not found to be a suitable indicator for e-skills. This is likely due to the fact that those with secondary or tertiary education are literate, yet those with basic literacy but lacking higher education are not able to use ICTs.

The stock of citizens with completed secondary or tertiary education is the best indicator for e-skills.

This paper proposes the replacement of indicators used by the ITU, the UN and other institutions to capture e-skills, by the share of population, with completed secondary and tertiary education. This indicator allows to track more closely eskills development for different countries and different communities within countries.