Bangladesh scores low in digital evolution index

Although the country's evolution from a physical past to the digital present is gaining momentum even amid the ongoing pandemic, the progress still lags far behind other countries, according to a new global index.

As per Digital Intelligence Index, Bangladesh ranked 23rd out of 90 nations for its momentum in digital evolution while it placed 83rd for its present state in digital evolution.

The Fletcher School at Tufts University, in partnership with Mastercard, yesterday unveiled this charting of progress economies have made in advancing their digitalisation, fostering trust and integrating connectivity into the lives of billions.

Mapping 95 per cent of the world's online population and drawing on 12 years of data, a Digital Evolution scorecard measures 160 indicators in 90 economies across four key pillars: institutional environment, demand conditions, supply conditions and the capacity for innovation and change.

Building upon earlier editions in 2014 and 2017, this year's index paints a picture of global digital development, sheds insight on key factors driving change and momentum and unpacks what this means for economies facing the challenges of a global pandemic and post-pandemic future.

According to the index, across Asia Pacific, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and Chinese Taipei are amongst the most digitally dynamic economies. South Korea and Chinese Taipei have significantly outperformed the OECD growth rate in the second quarter of the year amid the global lockdown.

These economies feature high levels of available talent, active R&D collaboration between industry and academia, and a strong record of creating and bringing digital products into the mainstream. 

According to a report titled "Digital in the time of Covid", mid-sized nations such as Kenya, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Rwanda, and Argentina have been using digital technologies, with potential to leapfrog and transform their economies.

These leapfrogs make for ideal role models and benchmarks for those in the "Watch Out" zone on how to use the digital economy as a lever for change. 

Bhaskar Chakravorti, the dean for global business at Fletcher, said the pandemic may be the purest test of the world's progress towards digitalisation.

"We have a clearer view on how dynamic digital economies can contribute to economic resiliency during a time of unparalleled global turmoil and can be positioned for recovery and change," he added.

With nearly two thirds of the world's population online today, the world is entering an "after access" phase, where access alone is not enough.

Aspects such as the quality of access, effective use of digital technologies, accountable institutions, robust data governance policies and fostering trust are greater factors in determining digital competitiveness and sustainability, according to findings.

Young people in emerging economies are demonstrating high levels of digital engagement, a bright spot for governments attempting to expand digitalisation in their economies.

The index also looks at "Digital Trust", which is the bridge that connects its journey from the digital present to an intelligent and inclusive digital future.

The Digital Trust scorecard measures 198 indicators in 42 of the index economies across four key pillars: behaviour, attitudes, environment, and experience.

Economies such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei and South Korea provide citizens with a near seamless experience, delivering the holy grail of advanced infrastructure, broad access and unparalleled interaction.

This experience is also matched by high levels of engagement, offering these economies a clear advantage in a "beyond access" future.

China, Indonesia and Vietnam have increasingly favourable attitudes about their digital future, buoyed by rapidly expanding digital adoption and opportunity.

Overall, digitally advanced economies with higher levels of socio-economic equity expressed more positive attitudes towards digital technologies, while fast-moving "Break Outs" are more optimistic than their "Watch Out" peers, according to the index.

Ajay Bhalla, president for cyber & intelligence at Mastercard, said never before has there been such an acute need to understand the factors that drive digitalisation and digital trust.

With that knowledge, businesses and governments can work together to help all 7.6 billion people around the world benefit from the vast opportunities a digitally advanced economy can bring.

"While much remains uncertain today, it is clear that digital success will be a key building block in our collective recovery," Bhalla added.

Matthew Driver, executive vice president for services at Mastercard Asia Pacific, said Covid-19 has advanced digitalisation across the region by at least five years in as many months, only serving to further accelerate the development of the digital ecosystems across the region.

"With rising levels of consumer trust and engagement and growing digitization in the small business segment, all deeply supported by proactive enabling actions from governments, the opportunities ahead for the region's digital economy are immense," he added.

The executive vice president went on to say that with Asia Pacific poised to recover quickly from the pandemic, the strong performance in the two components of Digital Evolution and Trust will only serve to further support Asia's leadership in the digital landscape. 


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