Digital Ecosystem Country Assessment (DECA) Report

The Bangladesh Digital Ecosystem Country Assessment (DECA) report outlines the key aspects of Bangladesh’s digital ecosystem and provides 10 recommendations for creating a more inclusive, safe, and enabling environment.

There has been progress in almost all aspects of the ecosystem, from digital connectivity expansion to government digitalization to a tech-savvy e-commerce sector. Much of this has grown on the back of the Government of Bangladesh’s (GoB’s) Digital Bangladesh agenda, and a driven private sector has pushed it along. Poor quality of internet services, limited digital literacy, and limited awareness and measures for safety online further risks widening the digital divide. In a 2018–2019 ICT Household Survey, more than half of the respondents (65 percent) cited not knowing how to use the internet as a reason for not using it, and nearly half of the respondents said that they have no knowledge of the internet. Bangladesh ranks Number One in South Asia on the e-governance academy’s National Cybersecurity Index (NCSI) in terms of the availability of necessary laws and policies, but there is significant room for improvement when it comes to the strength of implementation across the ecosystem.

The GoB’s recent Bangladesh Cybersecurity Strategy 2021–2025 aims to address this and other challenges including human capacity and infrastructure development. Given the absence of a single digital rights advocacy organization, CSOs in this space banded together in 2021 to form the Bangladesh Freedom Initiative. Mobile financial services are expensive in Bangladesh and increasingly inclusive. Mobile money has been used since the early 2010s for remittance transfers to families, and the COVID-19 pandemic and growth of the e-commerce sector has made it increasingly simple for Bangladeshis to pay for services online. E-commerce and the tech startup environment have grown quickly due to an increase in international and domestic investments and an active private sector. E-commerce and tech startup organizations are concentrated in the capital, leading to city-centric solutions. The digital talent pool is diverse and consists of technical talent, freelancers, and gig workers. Each group faces unique challenges but the common thread is siloed and out-of-date upskilling.

The USAID/Bangladesh DECA took place between June 2022 and December 2022. It included desk research, consultations with USAID/Bangladesh, nine weeks of virtual interviews, and one week of in-person interviews. It involved a total of 81 interviews with stakeholders from civil society, academia, the private and public sectors, international development organizations, and USAID/Bangladesh technical offices.

The USAID/Bangladesh 2020–2025 Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS) includes three strategic priorities:

  1. Improved democratic systems that promote transparency, accountability, and integrity
  2. Enhanced opportunities for an inclusive, healthy, educated society, and a robust economy
  3. Strengthened resilience to shocks and stressors

Pillar 1: Digital Infrastructure and Adoption

  • Fixed and mobile broadband have widespread coverage, but the quality of service and affordability are hindered by a concentration of players and unclear policies in the first and middle mile.
  • Despite the GoB’s focus on human development across strategy documents such as Digital Bangladesh, there is no clear digital literacy implementation roadmap to date and digital literacy emerges as a key barrier to uptake across all aspects of the digital ecosystem.
  • A growing ecosystem of locally relevant content is key to closing the usage gap; barriers in terms of funding and understanding user needs remain.

Pillar 2: Digital Society, Rights, and Governance

  • GoB’s Vision 2021 and Vision 2041 underscore the importance of Digital Bangladesh and have been drivers for digital transformation across the country. However, undefined roadmaps and uneven knowledge of digitalization among government officials undermine GoB’s efforts.
  • Bangladesh ranks number one in South Asia on NCSI and performs well in terms of the availability of cybersecurity policies and CIRTs in place, but there is room for improvement in terms of strengthening infrastructure, workforce development, and strategy implementation.
  • Misinformation and disinformation are widespread in the digital sphere.
  • CSOs and independent media largely use digital technology for IT and development but lack more advanced skills.

Pillar 3: Digital Economy

  • The Mobile Financial Services (MFS) ecosystem in Bangladesh is expansive, and increasingly more inclusive. The government and private sector are strategizing on how to increase MFS usage.
  • Startups are benefiting from increased investment into the ecosystem but challenges related to repatriation and poor rural penetration are limiting growth.
  • The fast growth of e-commerce was undermined by a major fraud that severely eroded consumer trust and changed online shopping behavior.
  • A sizable segment of Bangladeshi entrepreneurs find work through domestic and international job gig platforms, but such work can often be precarious and offers workers no protections and limited bargaining power.

mAccess Indicators & Rankings

The information below is part of the mAccess Diagnostic Tool and is intended to help assess foundational components of Bangladesh’s digital ecosystem using indicators on internet availability, affordability, access, and use. Click here to explore the full tool.

Country Snapshot – Bangladesh

  • 2G Coverage:


  • 3G Coverage:


  • Cost per SMS in USD for 10,000 bulk SMS:


  • EIU Rank:


  • ITU IDI Rank:


  • Number of Internet Exchange Points (IXPs):


  • Living 2G Coverage ( in million ):


  • Living 3G Coverage ( in million ):


  • No of MBBC:


  • Not using Mobile Internet 2G Coverage:


  • Number of active mobile money agents:


  • Number of active mobile money users:


  • Smartphones 3G Coverage:


  • WEF Rank:


Access – Bangladesh

  • Land-lines per 100 inhabitants:


  • Mobile broadband connections per 100 inhabitants:


  • Mobile internet users per 100 inhabitants:


  • Active SIM cards per 100 inhabitants:


Affordability – Bangladesh

  • Mobile prepaid 1GB basket:


  • Moblie Prepaid 1GB basket – largest operator:


  • Mobile prepaid voice basket – largest operator:


  • Effective price:


  • GB per GDPC:


  • Mobile prepaid voice basket:


Competition – Bangladesh

  • Market concentration:


  • Interconnection: Mobile Termination Rates:


  • Highest MNO EBITDA Margin in country:


  • Mobile-specific taxes / TCMO:


  • Number of Mobile Operators:


  • Market share of largest mobile operators:


Infrastructure – Bangladesh

  • International bandwidth per user:


  • Connections per Base stations:


  • Population covered by 3G signal:


  • Population covered by 4G signal:


  • Country level investment per subscriber:


Usage – Bangladesh

  • Average revenue per user (Blended ARPU):


  • Facebook users per 100 inhabitants:


  • Mobile Data traffic per active SIM:


  • M2M connections per 100 inhabitants:


  • Minutes of Use per active SIM:


Digital Ecosystem Evidence Map

The information below is part of the Digital Ecosystem Evidence Map (DEEM) and displays up-to-date resources on digital development interventions and the digital ecosystem for Bangladesh. Click here to explore the full tool.

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