The Information Economy Report 2012: The Software Industry and Developing Countries


Publication: 2012-11-28


The Information Economy Report 2012: The Software Industry and Developing Countries is the seventh in the flagship series published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). In the 2012 edition, special attention is given to the role of software capabilities in accelerating progress towards a more inclusive information society. Key issues covered include: * The link between software capabilities and development * Global and regional trends in production, spending, trade, investment, venture capital and employment in the software sector * The evolving ICT landscape and its impact on software production patterns * Trends and implications related to free and open source software (FOSS) * An analysis of the market orientation of software production in developing countries * Country case studies * Policy recommendations on how governments and their development partners can better leverage software for development and strengthen national software systems

The Information Economy Report 2012 finds that, because software is increasingly permeating societies at all levels of development and activity, it is becoming more important for countries to develop the technological capabilities needed to adopt and adapt existing software solutions, and eventually to innovate. Software and service activities represent an opportunity for developing countries, thanks to the low capital entry requirements, the sector's high-value, high-growth nature and knowledge-rich profile. Due to changes in the ICT landscape, even small-scale developers in developing countries can now participate in software development and production, for example in the area of mobile applications. The Report suggests that there is considerable room for developing countries to make better use of the software potential. The Report introduces the concept of the national software system. It emphasizes that domestic software producers and users are greatly influenced by the quality and affordability of ICT infrastructure, access to relevant human resources and capital, the legal framework, an enabling business infrastructure, as well as by the links with software networks in the rest of the world.


Name:Owen Ambur


Name:United Nations Conference on Trade and Development



  • GovernmentsGovernments play a central role in the national software system. Overall, the competitiveness of the system is affected by the national vision, strategy and government policies which should nurture software capabilities and the system as a whole. In particular, Governments are important users of software (notably through e-government and public procurement activities) and they strongly influence most of the enabling factors of the system.

  • Division on Technology and LogisticsFor more information about UNCTAD's work on ICT for Development under the Division on Technology and Logistics, please contact: ICT Analysis Section, Division on Technology and Logistics Telephone: +41 22 917 55 91 Fax: +41 22 917 00 52 e-mail:

  • ICT Analysis SectionWithin the UNCTAD Division on Technology and Logistics, the ICT Analysis Section carries out policy-oriented analytical work on the development implications of information and communication technologies (ICTs). It is responsible for the preparation of the Information Economy Report. The ICT Analysis Section promotes international dialogue on issues related to ICTs for development, and contributes to building developing countries' capacities to measure the information economy and to design and implement relevant policies and legal frameworks.

  • United Nations

  • BAN Ki-moonSecretary-General, United Nations

  • TIER2012 TeamThe Information Economy Report 2012 was prepared by a team comprising Torbjörn Fredriksson (team leader), Cécile Barayre, Scarlett Fondeur Gil, Suwan Jang, Diana Korka, Rémi Lang and Smita Lakhe under the overall guidance of Anne Miroux, Director of the Division on Technology and Logistics, and the supervision of Mongi Hamdi, Head of the Science, Technology and ICT Branch.

  • Government of FinlandFinancial support from the Government of Finland is gratefully acknowledged.