26 June 2024

On 26 June 2024 in Tashkent, Republic of Uzbekistan, within the framework of the ICT Statistics Week for the CIS region, the Strategic Session of Experts on ICT Statistics was held for representatives of the CIS Interstate Statistical Committee, national statistical services, experts from the Ministries of Communications and Digital Development of the countries of the region and the Regional Commonwealth in the Field of Communications (RCC).

The session was chaired by Alexey Borodin, RCC Director General.

Natalia Mochu, Director of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Regional Office for the CIS, addressed the participants of the session with a welcoming speech, in which she noted the value of efforts to strengthen the collection and processing of statistical data at the regional level.
The guest expert from ITU was José Louis Cervera-Ferry, Senior Statistician of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau, who outlined three key aspects of statistics-related work that the experts should focus on during the discussion and on which it would be important to work more specifically at the regional level:

- the importance of "verticalisation" of data submission to international ratings, through a single source that would aggregate data when it is transmitted to the external circuit, in order to avoid inconsistencies between official data at the country, regional and international ratings levels,

- collection and processing on comparable grounds,

- comparison of data not only with neighbours in the region, but also externally, for example, with those countries with which the socio-economic situation is most similar.

The opening speaker of the session was Arseniy Plosskiy, Deputy Laboratory Head, FGBU NIIR - representative of the Russian Federation Communications Administration, who has long been one of the leading figures in the community of experts in the field of statistics of the RCC/CIS region at ITU thematic meetings. His presentation focused on telecommunication/ICT measurement issues in the work of ITU and in RCC Member-States, as well as related challenges and opportunities.

In particular, the expert highlighted "growth points" for joint work at the region level, among which aspects such as:

- Involvement of experts from the region in the development of ITU Indices to reflect regional specificities and regional priorities,

- A comprehensive approach to addressing the issues of increasing the level of telecommunication/ICT development and deployment and cybersecurity principles for countries in the region, based on analysing the results of ITU Indices publications and identifying growth points,

- Formation of a regional working body based on RCC and CIS to improve the efficiency of cooperation of experts from the countries of the region on telecommunication/ICT statistics and development issues.

"Statistical tools should not serve the purpose of comparing countries among themselves and identifying strong and weak ones, but should serve the purpose of identifying opportunities for growth in the level of telecommunication/ICT development both at the level of individual countries and at the level of the whole region" - noted Mr. Ploskiy.

During the discussion, the representative of the Bureau of National Statistics of the Agency for Strategic Planning and Reforms of the Republic of Kazakhstan, whose concerns were supported by the representative of the CIS Stat Committee, noted that often at the national level, different agencies are responsible for different data pools and their forwarding to the external circuit, which leads to some inaccuracies in the transfer of data to international rankings. In addition, it was noted that there is a discrepancy between the methodological approaches of national statistical services, which are oriented towards international rankings, and the agencies responsible for ICT, whose indicators are tailored to national programmes and projects.

The representative of the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media of the Russian Federation noted as one of the possible areas of work the preparation for the revision of the ICT Development Index in the future in order to develop a regional approach to the inclusion in it of certain new indicators, for which at the moment for objective reasons can not be submitted data from a number of countries in the region, for example, on 5G - due to the still low level of development of the fifth generation of communication at the level of the region, or those where, on the contrary, the achievements of the region of the countries led the region.

The representative of the CIS Statistical Committee noted that the methodological incomparability of the collection of indicators of national statistical services at the level of the region is a major challenge, which obviously complicates the work on the formation of a pool of reliable data at the CIS level.

During the ensuing discussion it was also noted that there is a discrepancy between the methodological approaches of collecting information at the level of the CIS Statistical Committee, national statistical services and within the framework of the ICT Development Index (IDI) of ITU. At the same time, it was noted that it would be advisable to receive statistical questionnaires from the ITU and addressed to regional organisations in the field of communications and national statistical services so that the ITU could receive the most relevant and verified information for the formation of its rankings.

The representative of the National Statistical Committee of the Republic of Belarus also noted the problem of frequent use by the bureaus of international rankings of only own data, not always correct from the point of view of national statistical services, which cannot be corrected on the basis of official data from the countries participating in the rankings - this primarily concerns the quantitative indicator of population of the countries, which is the baseline for almost all rankings.

The participants of the session agreed that such an exchange of opinions between experts has great potential for developing common approaches to the development of ICT statistics in the region. In particular, in the format of discussions between appointed experts from national statistical services, authorised representatives of the Ministries of Communications and Digital Development, experts from the CIS Statistical Committee and RCC, a regional position on the revision of the ITU IDI and proposals for improving the position of CIS States in it can be formed.