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SL falls to new low in EIU’s latest Inclusive Internet Index

7 May 2021 08:16 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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  • Ranked 77th among 120 countries compared to 72nd spot held in 2020
  • EIU says fall caused by weakening support for digital literacy and erosion of trust in information
  • Sri Lanka trailing by 28 spots to India in latest edition
  • Quality of internet experience ranked at 77th compared to 62nd in the previous edition

By Nishel Fernando
Sri Lanka’s ranking in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) latest Inclusive Internet Index has fallen to new all- time-low driven by continuous deteriorations in key indicators such as ‘support for digital literacy’ and steep decline in trust in information from non-government and social media websites and apps.


Sri Lanka was ranked 77th among 120 countries in EIU’s Inclusive Internet Index 2021 commissioned by Facebook, compared to 72nd spot the country held in 2020 and the initial 41st ranking in the first edition of the Index in 2017. 


“This is due to deteriorations over the past year in support for digital literacy and an erosion of trust in information from government, non-government and social media websites and apps,” the EIU stated in a note.


Although, Sri Lanka was able to maintain the second spot in South Asia, the gap between India and Sri Lanka has been widening over the past few years. 


In 2018 edition, the gap between India and Sri Lanka was mere two spots, however, Sri Lanka is trailing by 28 spots to India in the latest edition, with India being ranked at 49th spot.


In the current edition, Sri Lanka has performed poorly  in ‘Readiness’ sub-index which examines the capacity to access the internet, including skills, cultural acceptance, and supporting policy. With a ranking of 115, Sri Lanka was the worst performer in the region after slipping 28 spots compared to 2020 edition.


In 2020, Sri Lanka’s internet users’ confidence in online privacy, privacy regulations as well as trust in non-governmental websites and apps and information from social media recorded substantial erosion. 

As per the previous edition of the index, Sri Lanka held 7th and 3rd spots in ‘trust in non-governmental websites and apps’ and ‘trust in information from social media’ indicators, however, the country’s ranking fell to 92nd and 94th spots in the latest Index.


Despite Sri Lanka’s Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) announcement last year of the final draft version of Data Protection Bill being released to the Legal Draftsman’s Department, it’s yet to reach Parliament. 


Further, Sri Lankans also became more concerned about safety in e-commerce activities in a year where the country saw record number of online transactions driven by the pandemic-related travel restrictions. 


The country was ranked at 46th spot in the ‘e-Commerce safety’ indicator in the latest index compared to 6th spot it held in the previous edition, with 42 percent of the internet users being concerned about safety of e-commerce.
In ‘Value of e-Commerce’ indicator, which is based on frequency, Sri Lanka’s ranking slipped to 71st spot in the latest index compared to 8th spot it held one year ago.


According to the index, the Sri Lanka was ranked at 88th spot with only a quarter of the country’s households connected to internet. However, there were 130 mobile-cellular telephone subscriptions per 100 inhabitants placing the country on the top spot.


In terms of access to internet and mobile phones, the Index showed that a considerable gap of 13 percent and 10 percent between males and females placing the country in 74th and 89th spots in these indicators. 


Meanwhile, the quality of internet experience in Sri Lanka was ranked at 77th spot compared to 62nd spot in the previous edition of the Index. In particular, average mobile upload and download speeds which were ranked at 73rd and 69th spots in the 2020 index, plummeted to 90th and 83rd spots in the 2021 index, driven by the high internet traffic during lockdown periods.


Ranked at 78th spot, Sri Lanka continued to perform poorly on the ‘Infrastructure’ indicator, which measures network availability and access points to an Internet or mobile connection, exposing the slow progress in regulatory environment over past several years. The index showed that Sri Lanka was yet to come up with a policy for unlicensed spectrum to enable greater Wi-Fi access.


In ‘Internet exchange points’ (IXPs) indicator, Sri Lanka was ranked at 92nd spot with a zero score. 


According to the US-based Internet Society, IXPs has the potential to strengthen local Internet connectivity, develop local Internet industry, improve competitiveness, and serve as a hub for technical activity due to shorter routing paths.


A recent study by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) showed that for every 1 percent increase in the number of IXPs per 10 million inhabitants, the fixed-broadband download speed (Kbps) is expected to increase by 0.14 percent. Sri Lanka has around 4.18 IXPs per every 10 million population.


Meanwhile, the lack of efforts in supporting digital literacy including a national programme, placed the country in the worst spot in South Asia in ‘Support for digital literacy’ indictor of the index. 

 

 


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