The Role of Statistics in Development Informatics

The Role of Statistics in Development Informatics

Jacques Steyn (Monash University, South Africa)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-997-2.ch016
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ICT4D and Development Informatics literature and media reports often use statistics offered by the World Bank, ITU or CIA to make a case for the introduction of ICTs in developing contexts. Arguably the most widely used statistic is the claim of World Bank statistics that a very large proportion of the global population live on less than USD2 per day. When scrutinized, such claims are not based on solid methodology or logic. Such overgeneralized statistics seem to ride on media hype, and appeal to empathy rather than good science. Yet ICT4D evangelists, who present ICT as the holy grail to transform underdeveloped regions into global economic powerhouses, appeal to such statistics for justification of their cases. Here a brief analysis of some problems with statistics, such as ICT4D data, is presented. Claims and policy-making based on such data should be approached critically and interpreted with a large dose of skepticism. A consolidated table of CIA Yearbook data on the global penetration of landline phones, internet access and mobile phones is presented as an appendix.

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