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Pakistan ranks lowest in South Asia on internet inclusiveness

The Economic Intelligence Unit gauged countries on availability, affordability, relevance and readiness
by TR Pakistan

The news: A survey conducted by the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) ranked Pakistan at 76 out of 100 countries in the Inclusive Internet Index 2020. The survey, commissioned by Facebook, aims to study the growth of internet, its usage, and perception in countries around the world. The index evaluates countries based on standards like availability, affordability, relevance and the readiness of people to use the internet in the country. In its fourth year, 100 countries were surveyed which make up 91% of the world population, and contribute 96% to the world’s GDP.

Pakistan ranks low: Pakistan not only ranked in the last quartile of the global index, it is also 24th out of 26 Asian countries. Among the four standards, Pakistan performed the most poorly in the availability of internet. It ranked 86th out of 100 regarding the quality and foundation of infrastructure required for internet access. However, it ranked relatively better at 57 in affordability, which measures the cost of internet access relative to per capita income and market competition. It ranked 64/100 on readiness, which evaluates internet skills, cultural acceptance, and government policies regarding the internet. In terms of relevance, Pakistan is at 71. This standard examines the online presence and extent of the local language and relevant content.

Read more: Is a Chinese duck army arriving to feast on Pakistani locusts?

Findings: According to the EIU, more than half of the world population is connected to the internet, but 3.5 billion people are still deprived of it. The report found that internet growth in low-income countries had slowed down and while mobile data has been a game-changer, it is still too expensive. The average cost of a broadband connection across surveyed countries is 18.6% of the monthly gross national income per capita. This value is far from the target of 2% set by the United Nations Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development. The EIU also noted that 4G coverage has grown in over 54 countries. It now covers 31% low-income and 65% low-middle-income countries. Another pressing matter observed in the survey findings was the gender gap regarding access to the internet. Across 100 countries, men are 13% more likely to have internet access than women.  The gender gap in low-income countries is as high as 34.5 %.

Rankings around the world: Sweden, ranked first, led the Inclusive Internet Index 2020, with New Zealand and the United States of America following at second and third respectively. Among the South Asian countries, Bangladesh ranked 70th, Sri Lanka 56th, and India 46th on the global index.