Analysts say weak regulatory regimes cast a blight on the sector
Bangladesh is moving slowly up in ICT advancement, ranking 113th in the “networked readiness index” this year among 142 countries.
In the previous three years, Bangladesh progressed from 130th to 118th to 115th, according to the Global Information Technology Report: Living in a Hyperconnected World, prepared by the World Economic Forum (WEF).
The report explores the causes and consequences of living in an environment where the internet is accessible and immediate; people and businesses can communicate instantly; and machines are interconnected, creating opportunities and at the same time new challenges.
Khondaker Golam Moazzem, senior research fellow of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), said some countries were included on the list recently, but Bangladesh has consolidated its position over the years. The private sector of the country has played a big role, he said.
The Bangladeshi think tank partnered with the WEF for preparing the report, which was released recently.
Moazzem said, though Bangladesh has improved gradually in the last three years, it still lags behind the low-income countries of its stature.
He said the overall ICT environment in Bangladesh is good but the regulatory regimes are weak.
The country’s telecom tariff is satisfactory but businesses or individuals could not make the best use of low tariff. Businesses and stakeholders should work further on it, he added.
“Political commitment of the government to build an ICT-based society is good, but still there are deficiencies in the regulatory framework and infrastructure development to implement the vision of a ‘Digital Bangladesh’.”
The Networked Readiness Index (NRI) has three components: the environment for ICT offered by a given country or community (market, political, regulatory, infrastructure environment), the readiness of the community’s key stakeholders (individuals, businesses, and governments) to use ICT, and finally the use of ICT among these stakeholders.
The NRI measures the propensity for countries to exploit the opportunities offered by information and communications technology. The index, published annually, seeks to better comprehend the impact of ICT on the competitiveness of nations.
Sweden topped the list, followed by Singapore. The other countries on the top 10 list are Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Norway, the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
On the list, Bangladesh’s position is with the low ranking sub-Saharan countries.
The report said ICT readiness in sub-Saharan Africa is still low, with most countries showing significant lags in connectivity due to insufficient development of ICT infrastructure, which remains too costly. The region also displays poor skill levels that do not allow for an efficient use of the available technology.
Even in those countries where ICT infrastructure has been improved, ICT-driven impacts on competitiveness and well-being trail behind, resulting in a new digital divide.
Though Bangladesh is among the low-profile countries in the overall ranking, its position is in top in some cases. Mobile tariff in Bangladesh is one of the lowest in the world, and the country stands second followed by Hong Kong.
The index has increased its focus on the impacts of ICT to better align with areas of public policy. It has added new, relevant indicators such as mobile broadband subscriptions, and dropped other outdated indicators.
But Bangladesh has not yet introduced mobile broadband and the country’s internet penetration is poor which affects its overall ICT performances.
-With The Daily Star input