Finland leads the world in the share of its economy based on the production of goods and services related to information and communication technology (ICT), recent UNCTAD statistics show. The statistics, released online indicate that ICT in Finland employs almost one tenth of the country's total non-agricultural business sector. However, the ICT sector including the availability of statistics is still nascent in many developing economies. Currently, the relevant UNCTAD database contains information on 57 economies. The lack of more comprehensive data can be seen as yet another illustration of the digital divide. In fact, none of the world's least developed countries (LDCs) reports statistics on the size of its ICT sector. UNCTAD's data are sourced principally from national statistical offices, which at the request of developing countries are supported by an UNCTAD technical assistance program to build domestic capacity for measuring ICTs.
Based on the latest available data, the proportion of ICT-sector employment in the total business sector of economies ranges from less than 2 percent in Azerbaijan, Croatia and Kazakhstan to more than 8 percent in Finland, Israel and Sweden. Such economic activity is significant. As documented in UNCTAD's Information Economy Report 2011, the ICT sector is playing a growing role in a number of developing countries. For example, in India, the contribution of the ICT sector to gross domestic product (GDP) rose from 3.4 percent in 2000/01 to 5.9 percent in 2007/08.
In Kenya, the sector has expanded annually by more than 20 percent over the past decade and accounted for a staggering 24 percent of Kenya's GDP growth during that period. The health of the ICT sector affects governments, companies, individuals, and society at large. It creates jobs, spurs innovation, and not least supports the sustained use of ICTs in domestic economies, which has the effect of making them more productive and efficient.
Recent research shows that a thriving ICT sector can make a major contribution to economic growth in low-income countries. Jobs in ICT have proved to be more productive than those in other sectors. In the countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), between 1995 and 2008, labour productivity grew faster in the ICT sector than in the rest of the business sector.
The data confirms that the ICT sector's contribution to domestic economies is typically higher in terms of value added than in terms of employment. However, the ICT sector employs relatively young people with above-average levels of education. Hence, it offers jobs that may provide upward mobility, job security, and future training opportunities.