ESCWA on World Information Development Day: Mobile Phone Penetration in Arab Region Exceeds 100 Percent Skip to main content

ESCWA on World Information Development Day: Mobile Phone Penetration in Arab Region Exceeds 100 Percent

Beirut, Lebanon

The ESCWA publication “Regional Profile of the Information Society in the Arab Region, 2003-2015” noted a favorable relationship in the region between the liberalization of telecommunication services and the uptake of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) services, which reflected an increase in penetration rates of mobile phone and internet services. Most Arab countries have taken significant steps to improve their ICT infrastructure and have adopted necessary measures to encourage competitiveness in their telecommunication sectors. The average mobile phone penetration rate in the region reached 108.2 per cent in 2015, exceeding the global average at 96.8 per cent. In addition, the average internet user penetration rate reached 37 per cent in 2015, slightly lower than the global average at 43.4 per cent.

ESCWA had issued this report, the last in the series that began in 2003, to monitor and evaluate various aspects of the information society in its Member States, and measure the progress towards building such society. Since then, ESCWA has published a series of reports on the National and Regional Profiles of the Information Society on a biennial basis for the years 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2013.

The report is issued at a time when the world celebrates the World Information Development Day, through which the UN stresses the role of Information and communications technologies in providing new solutions to development challenges, particularly in the context of globalization, and fostering economic growth, competitiveness, access to information and knowledge, poverty eradication and social inclusion.

Concerning this latest issue, entitled “The March towards a Digitally Integrated Arab World,” Chief of the ESCWA Innovation Section at the Technology for Development Division Nibal Idlebi said: “The report points to noticeable progress in e-government policies and services during the last decade in the Arab region, whose countries have scored an average of 0.5 at the e-government indicator scale, which exceeds the global average of 0.47. However, this progress is sadly not replicated in the entire field of electronic applications. Statistics reveal that the Arab region’s share of e-commerce does not exceed 2 percent of global e-commerce”. 

This latest issue portrays the development and achievements of the Arab region in building the information society based on the ten action lines defined by the World Summit on the Information Society (ESIS). It comprises ten chapters, each one highlighting the progress of the region in one of these action lines. It also provides objective analyses and comparisons based on findings and statistics drawn from renowned sources, as well as selected success stories from various countries in the region.

Every chapter of the report also establishes a comparison between the countries of the region, and between the region as a whole and other world regions on the issue of progress towards the information society. Furthermore, every chapter discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the Arab region, and concludes with a set of actionable recommendations for the corresponding action line. The final chapter of the report is dedicated to highlighting the most important areas of interdependence between development priorities of the information society in the region and the newly adopted 2030 Development Agenda.
To access the report:
For more information:
Nabil Abu-Dargham +961-70-99 31 44
Ms. Mirane Abi-Zaki +961-76-04 64 02
For more ESCWA news, please visit:
Website:  Facebook:   Twitter: @ESCWACIU