1. Executive Summary

It is easy to be excited about the opportunities offered to developing countries by the Internet and its associated technologies, but it also is necessary to better understand the kinds of impacts one desires and those already observed. This report begins to provide a framework to analyze and better understand the impacts of this technology on Internet service providers and users and on various sectors of society.

Developing countries are rapidly acquiring information technologies, and use is growing in many sectors. Some organizations already consider the Internet a necessity rather than a luxury, and on its site visits to Africa in August 1997 the Committee on Indicators of Internet Impacts on Development heard from business leaders in Ghana and Senegal who know that to compete in international markets they must have Internet access. Many obstacles exist, however, to widespread Internet use in Africa, including economic barriers, poor infrastructure, restrictive policy and regulatory environments, and lack of effective leadership and constituencies.

With use of the Internet increasing at a rapid rate, there is an expressed need among development agencies, policymakers, Internet providers and users, and others for some framework to evaluate impacts of the Internet. At the same time, the committee found a number of challenges to gaining the information and knowledge it sought in Ghana and Senegal, where the Internet is still a new phenomenon.

The impacts of Internet access and use depend on who communicates what to whom. Some impacts of introduction of the Internet are direct and measurable; others are only indirectly related to the Internet and less easily measured. Since penetration of the Internet in Africa is still very limited in most areas, this report proposes an approach that seeks to infer the indirect impacts of the Internet from extrapolation of the direct impacts on users and organizations. However, readers must be aware of the perils in such extrapolations. The indicators presented



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Internet Counts: Measuring the Impacts of the Internet 1. Executive Summary It is easy to be excited about the opportunities offered to developing countries by the Internet and its associated technologies, but it also is necessary to better understand the kinds of impacts one desires and those already observed. This report begins to provide a framework to analyze and better understand the impacts of this technology on Internet service providers and users and on various sectors of society. Developing countries are rapidly acquiring information technologies, and use is growing in many sectors. Some organizations already consider the Internet a necessity rather than a luxury, and on its site visits to Africa in August 1997 the Committee on Indicators of Internet Impacts on Development heard from business leaders in Ghana and Senegal who know that to compete in international markets they must have Internet access. Many obstacles exist, however, to widespread Internet use in Africa, including economic barriers, poor infrastructure, restrictive policy and regulatory environments, and lack of effective leadership and constituencies. With use of the Internet increasing at a rapid rate, there is an expressed need among development agencies, policymakers, Internet providers and users, and others for some framework to evaluate impacts of the Internet. At the same time, the committee found a number of challenges to gaining the information and knowledge it sought in Ghana and Senegal, where the Internet is still a new phenomenon. The impacts of Internet access and use depend on who communicates what to whom. Some impacts of introduction of the Internet are direct and measurable; others are only indirectly related to the Internet and less easily measured. Since penetration of the Internet in Africa is still very limited in most areas, this report proposes an approach that seeks to infer the indirect impacts of the Internet from extrapolation of the direct impacts on users and organizations. However, readers must be aware of the perils in such extrapolations. The indicators presented

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Internet Counts: Measuring the Impacts of the Internet here can be helpful in analyzing impacts of the Internet, but the indicators themselves do not tell the whole story of Internet use, diffusion, and impacts. To be useful in Internet analysis, the information collected must be used with other instruments that simultaneously collect data on gender, geographic location, and other indicators to allow analytical disaggregation of impacts. To understand “Internet supply,” one must consider the political and social environments in which suppliers and users operate as well as technical and organizational aspects of the suppliers themselves. Thus, indicators are presented here to measure the competitiveness of the market and provide clues to the sustainability of Internet development and growth in a country. Also, indicators are presented to measure the quality and quantity of Internet service. “Internet use” refers to the quantity and type of use. Indicators are presented to analyze the number of users and subscribers and the reasons for which they are using the Internet. For example, indicators are presented to analyze Internet use by different segments of the population, whether the Internet is being used primarily for electronic mail or more sophisticated uses, and whether use is increasing or decreasing. Indicators are presented to analyze the types of impacts on institutions. The indicators measure who–for example, what level of employee–within an organization is using the Internet; what types of functions it is being used for; and what the perceived benefits are. Indicators are also presented for impacts of the Internet on organizational decisionmaking and in institutions such as markets and communities. The Internet can have impacts on sectors and on the developmental goals central to those sectors. Indicators are presented for impacts on education and on the broader developmental goals associated with education–for example, increased literacy and employment. Indicators are also presented for impacts on the private sector and broader economic developmental goals, such as increased employment, production, and capital formation. And the government sector and civil society are discussed. Indicators are presented to measure Internet use by the government and nongovernmental organizations as well as the impacts on related developmental goals such as

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Internet Counts: Measuring the Impacts of the Internet increased citizen participation in government and increased flow of information. Finally, Internet “diffusion” or paths of impacts are discussed and relevant questions are posed. This report is intended to stimulate discussion on the impacts of the Internet. It is recognized that much study is yet to be done. Based on the committee's findings, some areas for further research should include issues of causality, country-specific case studies of Internet use and diffusion, impacts of nonuse of the Internet, institutional use and diffusion of the Internet, and public policy and Internet use.