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13pc of people in country use internet: LIRNEasia

Cost of data a primary hindrance to greater use of ICT

FE Report | October 03, 2018 00:00:00

Only 13 per cent of the country's people aged between 15 to 65 years use internet and social networking sites, a research has revealed.

According to it, the people of same age group living in rural areas are 42 per cent less likely to use internet comparing to their urban counterparts.

Besides, the gap between male and female in terms of internet usage is the highest in Bangladesh among the 18 countries surveyed in the research.

However 27 per cent of the Bangladeshi mobile phone owners use mobile banking service, which is the highest of surveyed nations, it added.

LIRNEasia, a multinational think-tank on information and communications technology (ICT) policy and regulation organised a programme at a city hotel to present the findings on Tuesday.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Learning Initiatives on Reforms for Network Economies Asia (LIRNEasia) Helani Galpaya presented the findings at the very onset of the programme.

Later she along with CEO of Grameenphone Michael Foley, Robi CEO Mahtab Uddin Ahmed, and Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) director general (engineering and operations) Brigadier General Md Mustafa Kamal took part in a panel discussion.

Senior Policy Fellow of LIRNEasia Abu Saeed Khan moderated the session.

Ms Helani Galpaya presented the findings related to Bangladeshi citizens' access to ICT, which was conducted among 18 countries mostly developing ones from Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Around 2000 Bangladeshi families and individuals from 40 districts were surveyed in October and November of last year.

According to the research, the gender gap in internet use is the highest in Bangladesh among the surveyed nations, as Bangladeshi women between the ages of 15-65 are 34 per cent less likely to have their own mobile phone.

Bangladesh females are 62 per cent less likely to use internet than their male counterparts, the research disclosed.

"Cost of data was cited as a primary limitation to greater use by 30 per cent of internet users aged 15-65 in Bangladesh," the research paper said.

The research was conducted with the support of International Development Research Center (IDRC) of Canada, Ford Foundation, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and DFID of the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile, confusions arose regarding the actual number of internet users in Bangladesh.

According to recent statistics published on the BTRC website, total number of internet users in the country is 95 million, which is much higher than the figures showed by the LIRNEasia's research.

In response to a query regarding the issue, Brigadier General Md Mustafa Kamal said one individual using internet within 90 days are counted as active internet users as per BTRC's methodology of statistics.

"We collect the data from the mobile telecom operators, internet service providers (ISPs) and these (the figures) are facts as far as regulator is concerned," he said.

Regarding availability of 4G-enabled smartphones to abridge digital gap, he said coordinated initiatives are required from all stakeholder to this effect.

In his speech, Abu Saeed Khan said the research report reflects key issues of telecommunication sector and provides deep insights on disparity in use of mobile phones, internet and social media platforms.

The report findings will help make new policy aiming to ensure best use of the technology platforms for the country's development, he said.

Mr Khan also said the use of various technology platforms in the last several decades made huge impact on peoples' lives.

"Now internet has become an essential tool for doing business in the country," he added.

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