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Pakistan Worst in South Asia on Inclusive Internet Index

by Newsweek Pakistan

File photo. Banaras Khan—AFP

Report compiled by Economist Intelligence Unit attributes ranking to large gender gap, low levels of digital literary

Pakistan has ranked 76 out of the 100 countries measured by the Inclusive Internet Index 2020 compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit, a standing that places it in the last quartile of the overall index.

Commissioned by Facebook, the Inclusive Internet Index’s fourth annual ranking assesses the performance of 100 countries in four categories: accessibility, affordability, relevance and readiness. Per The Economist, the Index seeks to measure the extent to which the Internet is not only accessible and affordable, but also relevant to all.

The 100 countries covered by the Index represent 91 percent of the world’s population and 96 percent of global GDP. According to the EIU, Pakistan falls into the last quartile of index countries overall, and ranks 24th out of 26 Asian countries—and bottoms out the countries comprising South Asia. “Notable among its weaknesses are by far the largest gender gaps in the index, in both mobile and Internet access. Low levels of digital literacy and relatively poor network quality are major impediments to Internet inclusion,” it added.

The four categories used to formulate the ranking all witnessed Pakistan scoring below the halfway mark, with availability coming in the worst. Per the EIU, “availability” measures the quality and breadth of available infrastructure required for access and levels of Internet usage. Pakistan’s rank at 86 out of 100 was based on usage, quality, infrastructure and electricity—all of which the country scored poorly on due to existing issues.

Pakistan’s best category was “affordability,” where it ranked 57th. The category examines the cost of access relative to income and the level of competition in the internet marketplace. The index found the pricing high relative to income but noted the competitive environment was somewhat better.

The third category, “relevance,” measures the existence and extent of local language content and relevant content. Pakistan came in at 71.

The final category of “readiness,” which examines the capacity to access the internet, including skills, cultural acceptance, and supporting policy, saw Pakistan ranking at 64.

Overall, of the countries monitored, Pakistan ranked the worst among South Asian nations: Bangladesh stood at 70, Sri Lanka at 56, and India at 46.

Overall, Sweden topped the ranking, while Burundi bottomed it out at 100.

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