Forget Kashmir; Pakistan Ranked One Of The Least Internet Inclusive Nations

In a survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit commissioned by Facebook, Pakistan is ranked 76 out of 100 countries in the inclusive internet index for the year 2020. The announcement comes after Islamabad has been vehemently criticizing India over social media ban in Jammu and Kashmir.

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The ‘Inclusive Internet Index’ ranks countries on the internet’s affordability, availability, relevance and the readiness of people to use it. The annual report, commissioned by Facebook, in its fourth year already, has covered 100 countries that represent 91% of the world’s population and close to 96% of global GDP.

One(1) being the best and hundred (100) being the worst, Pakistan stands uncomfortably at 76th place out of 100 countries and 24th out of 26 Asian countries which is a fall from the previous year’s report.

In an already gloomy atmosphere over its international image, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s report was the last thing Pakistan wanted. The EIU, further in its report, mentioned the notable weaknesses i.e. the gender parity in access to mobile and internet, relatively poor network quality and low levels of digital literacy which have presumably led to less internet inclusion.

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Among the four factors considered for the ranking — availability, affordability, relevance, and readiness — Pakistan displayed poor performance in all areas, the worst being the availability of the internet.

In terms of availability — a factor that examines the breadth of available infrastructure required for access and levels of internet usage and the quality — the country ranked 86th out of 100. Pakistan relatively performed better on affordability (57th) that is described as the cost of access relative to income and the level of competition in the internet marketplace.

In terms of readiness — calculated on the basis of access to the internet, including skills, cultural acceptance, and supporting policy — the Islamic nation ranked 64th. Finally, the country ranked 71st on relevance, which is the existence and extent of the local language and relevant content.

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While it’s fellow South Asian counterparts fared well with Bangladesh at 70th, Sri Lanka at 56 and India on the 46th spot, Pakistan ranked lowest with 76. Sweden leads the list followed by New Zealand and the United States.

Among the global worst at 100th are Burundi, Liberia, Madag¬ascar, Malawi and Burkina Faso. The EIU survey of 2020 is accompanied by the ‘2020 Value of the Internet Survey’, to further understand how the internet is used and perceived.

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The result obtained puts a spotlight on three important things – the fact that 3.5 billion people continue to remain unconnected to the internet, the extent of influence mobile data has brought to the game of internet access and high gender parity with men more likely to have 13% more access to the internet than women.