ECLAC - @LIS2: Alliance for the Information Society
@LIS2ECLAC @LIS2: Alliance for the Information Society

What is OSILAC?

The lack of ICT data in most of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean in 2003, called for the ECLAC and the Institute for Connectivity in the Americas (ICA) of the International Development Research Center (IDRC) to create the Observatory for the Information Society in Latin America and the Caribbean (OSILAC). The objective was to have an Observatory in charge of fostering the creation of ICT statistics in the region.

The main objectives of OSILAC are:

  • To promote statistical harmonization in order to strengthen the monitoring of ICT policies and projects in Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • To monitor and analyze the progress of the regional countries towards the development of information societies.
  • Support countries in the compilation and analysis of statistical data, developing capabilities or assisting countries with survey Implementation (NSOs and other official institutions).

OSILAC has played a relevant role in the ICT harmonized measurement process at a regional level, in the following areas:

  • Identification and description of the stage of development of the ICT data collection at a regional level and the needs for information in the region.
  • Combined work with national statistics offices and other members of the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development, definition and consolidation of the core indicators in the measurement of ICT and promotion of the methodological discussion concerning the concepts and strategies of ICT data collection.
  • Data, statistics and indicators collection by national statistics offices as an input for analysis and research oriented towards the creation of a regional and subregional overview of the state of development of the Information Society in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Additionally, OSILAC worked together with the Working Group on Information and Communication Technologies of the Statistical Conference of the Americas (SCA) of ECLAC and, concomitantly, they have collected and developed the contents of the Compendium of Practices on Implementation of ICT Questions in Household and Business Surveys in Latin America and the Caribbean, and of the methodological guidelines for the measurement of ICT in households and individuals, businesses, government and the education sector, which were presented at the Fifth Meeting of the SCA, held in August 2009.


The United Nations Millennium Declaration was one of the first scenarios to show the need to agree upon a group of indicators of the countries' socioeconomic development, which included ICT indicators. This declaration was signed in September 2000 by 189 countries, in New York, and its Goal 18 sets out: "In cooperation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communication". As indicators for the follow-up of this process, the following are recommended: "Telephone lines and cellular telephone subscribers per 100 inhabitants, personal computers in use per 100 inhabitants and Internet users per 100 inhabitants".

Likewise, in several international agreements, such as the Declaration of Florianopolis and the Bavaro Declaration, a call is made to recognize the need to have information about the current status and impact of ICT in all countries.

Thereafter, many initiatives have arisen in countries around the world regarding the measurement of the transformations and impact of ICT in people's lives, in the different sectors of society and in organizations. Among them, one of the most relevant is the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), which took place in two phases: the first one was held in Geneva (Switzerland), in December 2003, and the second one was held in Tunisia, in November 2005.

The bases for measuring the global progress in the access and use of ICT were adopted in the WSIS 2003, where a Plan of Action was approved, which stated the need to establish the course of the Information Society in all countries, and established the creation of the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development, whose principal mission is to identify a set of core indicators for measuring ICT. Its members are: the International Telecommunication Unit (ITU), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), the United Nations Regional Commissions (ECLAC, ECA, UNESCAP, UNESCWA), Eurostat and the World Bank.

The core indicators were consolidated and presented for the first time at the Thematic Meeting of the World Summit for the Information Society, held in Geneva in February 2005 and endorsed by the United Nations Statistical Commission in its 38th session on February 2007. Later on, the list was revised by the Partnership in 2008 and was presented as a background document before the Commission on its 40th session, in February 2009. Finally, the updated publication of the Core ICT Indicators was presented at the 41st session of the Commission, in February 2010. The 2010 revision has introduced a series of changes aiming at improving the comparability of the measurements made by the data producers of the countries, and reflecting the technological changes produced since 2007.

Characterization of the Process for Creating Harmonized Statistics on Information and
Communication Technologies in the National Institutes of Statistics