The Financial Express

Bangladesh scores low among Asia Pacific digital societies

| Updated: October 29, 2021 18:49:48

- Picture used for illustrative purpose - Picture used for illustrative purpose

Despite the expansion of the fourth generation (4G) telecom network, Bangladesh has scored low among digital societies in the Asia Pacific region, according to a global report.

It said Bangladesh outperformed only Pakistan among 11 nations studied in the report styled as 'Digital societies in Asia Pacific: Accelerating progress through collaboration' prepared by the GSMA.

GSMA, a global platform of mobile network operators, also said Bangladesh scored 42 points out of 100, whereas top-ranked South Korea attained 84 points.

Among neighbouring nations, Pakistan scored 39 and India scored 54 points, said the report published recently.

The other countries on the list are Singapore, Australia, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

While most developed nations are preparing to roll out 5G networks, emerging nations are still strengthening 4G coverage, it added.

"4G population coverage has also risen significantly in Bangladesh, reaching 97 per cent in 2020, up from just 8.0 per cent in 2016," the report said.

These 4G networks will play a key role in digital transformation efforts, supporting new digital innovations and acting as a bridge to 5G networks in the future, it observed.

While 4G rollouts have advanced considerably in South Asia in recent years, there remains a significant disparity with 4G take-up, the report said, adding that in India, 4G accounted for 63 per cent of connections at the end of 2020, compared with 27 per cent in Bangladesh and 38 per cent in Pakistan.

"Shifting to 4G is essential to improve the mobile internet user experience and to enable consumers to benefit from advanced digital lifestyle services," the report said.

The digital society index uses five main components of a digital society - connectivity, digital identity, digital citizenship, digital lifestyle, and digital commerce - to show the progress of a country along its path to becoming a full-fledged digital society.

In terms of digital lifestyle, Bangladesh scored 48 points only ahead of Pakistan (47), whereas Singapore scored the highest 86 points.

"Bangladesh saw a surge in demand for telemedicine during the pandemic, leading to the establishment of 15 digital healthcare providers," the GSMA said.

According to the report, Bangladesh scored as low as 21 points in digital commerce, which has been a much-talked-about topic in the country in recent times.

Bangladesh's Ministry of Commerce in September 2021 formed a technical committee to help formulate draft laws in the interest of e-commerce entrepreneurs, buyers and suppliers, the report mentioned.

"The Ministry of Commerce has also initiated a standard operating procedure (SOP) to further improve the e-Commerce system in collaboration with local administrations, using digital labs to train up to 5,000 entrepreneurs," the report said.

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