4:34 pm - Friday October 18, 3422

BD ranked 5th with people without net access: WB

With 148 million offline population, Bangladesh still has the world’s fifth largest number of people who are not connected to the internet, said a World Bank report.

India has the largest number of 1.003 billion people who are not connected to the internet, followed by China with 755 million offline population, Indonesia with 213 million and Pakistan with 165 million respectively, the report showed.

According to the report titled ‘World Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends’ launched in a city hotel on Monday, Bangladesh has one of the cheapest rates to make a phone call, but internet prices remain high, says news agency UNB.

However, the number of people having access to the internet has recently crossed 60 million in internetBangladesh as per the statistics of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC). So, Bangladesh has offline population of some 100 million as the country’s population is some 160 million.

Asked why the report contradicts to the statistics of BTRC, co-director of the report Deepak Mishra said the timeframe for collecting data for the report was August 2014.

The new report showed the ICT sector accounts for less than 0.5 percent of total employment. But, digital technology-enabled jobs such as IT and business process outsourcing services, online freelancing, mobile banking, ecommerce, and others are several folds more than ICT jobs in Bangladesh.

But it said with around 130 million mobile phone subscribers, the digital technologies are spreading fast in Bangladesh.

The report suggested that Bangladesh can accelerate growth, create more jobs and deliver better public services by enhancing access to digital technologies.

Addressing the launching event, World Bank country director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal Qimiao Fan said Bangladesh is a place where millions of young people who see the benefits of technology to transform their lives and the communities.

The report showed that the benefits of rapid digital expansion have been skewed towards the wealthy, skilled, and influential around the world who are better positioned to take advantage of the new technologies. Though the number of internet users worldwide has more than tripled since 2005, four billion people still lack access to the internet.

To make businesses more productive and innovative, the report suggested that countries should invest in basic infrastructure, reduce the cost of doing business, lower trade barriers, and facilitate entry of start-ups and competition across digital platforms.

State minister for ICT Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak launched the World Development Report 2016 mobile app at the event jointly arranged by the World Bank and Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC).

-Prothom Alo