The Financial Express

Bangladesh drops to 82nd in Internet index among 120 countries

| Updated: April 21, 2021 16:26:19

Picture used for representational purpose- Collected Picture used for representational purpose- Collected

Bangladesh suffered a drop in the 'Inclusive Internet Index 2021' among 120 countries compared to its position in 2020, according to a latest global report.

The country has ranked 82nd on the list this time while it ranked 79th in 2020, showed the index report, commissioned by Facebook and conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

The overall score of the index, which represents 98 per cent of global GDP and 96 per cent of global population, is based on the scores of the 'Availability, Affordability, Relevance and Readiness' categories.

It is scaled from 1(best) to 100 (worst).

Bangladesh occupies a spot among the lowest third of Asian countries, reveals the report, which was released by the EIU on April 14.

Despite improvements in the relevance category this year, thanks to an increased availability of e-government services in local languages, Bangladesh continues to struggle with patchy coverage, digital literacy, and a dearth of relevant content, it reads.

Bangladesh categorically ranked 87th in availability, 85th in affordability, 80th in relevance and 76th in readiness, while the country was 82nd in availability, 75th in affordability, 87th in relevance and 51st in readiness in 2020.

Among other South Asian contenders, India stands at 49th by moving three notches up, while Sri Lanka stands at 77th and Nepal at 83th in the index. Pakistan at the 90th ranking is the lowest performer in South Asia.

Sweden ranks first while the United States stands second position in the index.

Three other top countries in the EIU index 2021 are Spain, Australia and Hong Kong.

The last five on the list include Sierra Leone, Niger, DR Congo, Liberia and Burundi.

This year's index, which was published for the fourth year alongside the value of the internet survey and which polled 5,823 respondents from 115 countries, gauged perceptions on how Internet use affects people's lives and livelihoods.

The report states that a worrying development is that the gender gap in access to mobile phones widened in low-income countries (LICs), where such devices are often the primary means to get online.

The mobile gap tends to be bigger where data costs are higher - unsurprising, given that incomes are generally lower for women than for men - although in countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh, high gender gaps in mobile access persist despite mobile data becoming more affordable.

This could be due to entrenched cultural factors that inhibit gender equality more broadly.

The majority of countries in this year's index - 77 out of 120 - saw improvements in Internet inclusion over the last iteration, including nine of the 15 low-income countries included.

The countries whose scores improved the most included both developed and developing countries, with improvements spread throughout the four index domains.

Top gainer Latvia rose 13 spots to 32nd place, driven by steady growth across the board.

Slovakia, Uzbekistan and Kenya showed particularly striking surges in readiness, while Costa Rica benefited from a large jump in availability, with big improvements in government and private-sector initiatives to make Wi-Fi available.

The pandemic has compelled people to use the Internet more and for a wider range of activities than ever before, the report says.

At the same time, the pandemic may have widened the divide between online and offline populations, the report mentions.

Deterioration in relevant content and online trust raises alarms, as the pandemic has made these factors more crucial than ever.

Terming that one key component of internet quality is 4G connectivity, the report points out that yet deployment of 4G services still lags in many low- and lower-middle-income countries.

In LICs, the average rate of growth in 4G rose by 22 per cent, a slowdown from the prior index's 39 per cent gain.

On an average, 4G still reaches less than a third of people in LICs, well behind the near-universal coverage in upper-middle and high-income countries, the report added.

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