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March 16, 2020

Internet access

Editorial

 
March 16, 2020

Pakistan tends to fare badly on international reports ranking various aspects of life. The annual Economist Intelligence Unit which measures access to the internet among countries in terms of availability, affordability and people’s ability to use the web has placed Pakistan at 76th out of 100 countries. It is ranked the lowest in South Asia and falls into the last quarter of the global index, with Sweden occupying top place. In its fourth year the index, which is commissioned by Facebook, covered a hundred countries the populations of which make up 91 percent of the world’s people and 96 percent of global GDP. Pakistan ranks 24th out of 26 Asian counties.

Most notable in the assessment provided by the EIU is the low level of digital literacy, poor network quality and also the largest gender gap in South Asia. In other words, most women in the country do not access the internet. Pakistan ranks at worst place in all four areas measured for South Asia. These include availability, affordability, relevance and readiness. It has been observed for example that few libraries exist giving cheap or free access to the internet. The income required to use it is also relatively high. As far as readiness is ranked the ability of people to access it, cultural acceptance and policies which support internet use as well as issues such as language content are all unsatisfactory. In South Asia, India occupies the top place standing 46th on the index, Sri Lanka placed at 56th and Bangladesh at 70th. Unsurprisingly, the most developed countries in the world take all the top places while the most impoverished remain at the lowest.

The index, which measures a means of information becoming increasingly important in the world, states that 3.5 billion people across the globe remain unconnected, while 4.1 billion have connectivity to the internet at various levels. The report notes that connectivity offers up many opportunities to deprived populations. The survey also observes that the growth of the internet in low-income countries has slowed slightly. This may be a consequence of an economic downturn.Other detailed information about services available in various countries are also included in the comprehensive report. It is observed that women still have less access to the internet than men. The report suggests that closing this gap could bring huge benefits to people. These are observations the government should be taking note of as it develops its policies and tries to bring in technology that can serve the youth of the country and promote development.