CIRDAP Rural Development Report 2021

Digital services can be defined as the set of services provided to citizens on any platform anytime or anywhere with the help of ICT. The widespread adoption and integration of ICTs have reduced information and transaction costs, improved service delivery, created new jobs, generated new revenue streams, and improved the conservation of resources. ICTs have also transformed the way businesses, people and governments work, interact, and communicate. ICT innovation is also revolutionizing the agriculture and food sectors. The RDR titled Digital Services for the Marginalized Rural People in Asia and the Pacific: Accessibility, Affordability and
Implications figures out to what extent digital services can be used to serve those who are lagging. The purpose of this study is to figure out the accessibility and affordability of digital services available to them. Therefore, the question is what digital services are available for the entire population and to what extent they (marginalized people in rural areas) can access them.

When considering the accessibility and affordability of digital services, we weigh their overall capacity to use ICT services based on what digital services are provided. The report identifies the economically vulnerable people living in rural areas who can benefit from digital services and assess the status of their ICT usage based on their affordability. The access of marginalized rural people to digital services is estimated based on the affordability and coverage of ICT services. Even though digital service and ICT access are two different terms, they will be
interchangeably used to indicate digital services.

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There have been a widespread adoption and integration of information and communication technologies (ICT) in
the world in the last two decades. This adoption has been accompanied by the rapid decline in the prices of ICT
devices while the performance and availability of technologies have increased. The recent technologies have
allowed access to the marketplace and decreased costs, transforming the way businesses, people and
governments interact; thus, generating many new opportunities for both the public and private sectors,
facilitating inclusive rural development, and improving the quality of public services.

Global internet users have more than doubled during the last 10 years, rising from 2.18 billion in 2012 to 4.95
billion in 2022. For the Asia-Pacific region, internet usage has increased to 62% in 2021 from only 28% of the
region’s population in 2012. Europe is at the top in this context in contrast to Africa which is at the bottom.
Among the 6 regions – Europe, Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Americas, Arab States, Asia-Pacific,
and Africa – Asia-Pacific is better performing than Africa, but less performing than other regions of the world
even though the increase in internet usage by individuals in Asia-Pacific showed a sharp increase since 2018.
Despite such increased usage lately, Asia-Pacific still lags behind other regions except for the Arab States.


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