On 23 February 2022, the CAREC Institute in collaboration with the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) held a roundtable to discuss findings of the recent research titled “Digital CAREC: Analysis of the Regional Digital Gap.”
Speakers at the event introduced country profiles and explained methodologies to estimate and analyze the digital divide. Initially, a questionnaire-based primary data was collected in six CAREC countries – Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan – which looked into four attributes of the digital divide: digital infrastructure, digital payments, e-commerce, and Internet access. This analysis revealed that digital infrastructure and internet access are top-performing indicators of digital development in the CAREC region, while digital payments and e-commerce both report the lowest average score. Overall, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan were found relatively less digitally divided economies compared with Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan.
This study has also constructed a cumulative digital divide index (CDDI) using secondary data from 2016 to 2020. CDDI considered cost and affordability, access and infrastructure, Internet quality, digital security, regulations, digital FDI, and ICT output. For CDDI, this study included eight CAREC economies: Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, while Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, and the PRC were dropped from the analysis due to data limitations. The average CDDI score exhibited that Kazakhstan and Georgia are the least digitally divided countries among the selected, while Azerbaijan and Mongolia are moderately divided in the digital spectrum, whereas Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan are the least performing economies in CDDI, confirming a higher digital divide.