El Salvador

Digital Ecosystem Country Assessment (DECA) Report

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

Digital transformation is a priority for El Salvador. Government initiatives date back to 1999 with the creation of the first Infocenters and include the current Bukele Administration’s expansive Digital Agenda 2020-2030 which covers initiatives from increased digital literacy to the modernization of the state. However, a weak regulatory environment and the lack of clear government strategies have held back digitalization efforts. Uneven digital connectivity across the country and a limited number of Salvadorans with adequate digital skills continue to hinder greater digital adoption. Although the government’s embrace of bitcoin in September 2021 shined a spotlight on El Salvador globally, consumers and businesses have been slow to adopt the cryptocurrency. While there is significant room for growth, the COVID-19 pandemic spurred digital uptake across users and businesses.

The Digital Ecosystem Country Assessment (DECA), a flagship initiative of the Digital Strategy, supports USAID Missions to better understand, work with, and support country digital ecosystems. The DECA looks at three pillars of a country’s digital ecosystem: (1) Digital Infrastructure and Adoption; (2) Digital Society, Rights, and Governance; and, (3) Digital Economy. The El Salvador DECA was carried out between November 2021 and May 2022.

It included desk research, 101 key informant interviews, and was guided by USAID/El Salvador’s 2020-2025 Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS).

The USAID/El Salvador 2020-2025 Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS) includes three key development objectives:

  1. Security increased for likely migrants
  2. Jobs and income potential increased for likely migrants
  3. Government responsiveness, accountability, and transparency improved

Pillar 1: Digital Infrastructure and Adoption

  • El Salvador’s telecommunications sector is largely governed by an outdated 1997 Telecommunications Act which does not consider recent progress in the digitalization space and hinders effective connectivity expansion.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on device and connectivity disparities. The Government’s swift move to distance education is commendable, but many are still left behind.
  • Interviewees stress the importance of digital literacy awareness and curricula to develop digitally-savvy citizens and a digitally-skilled talent pool.

Pillar 2: Digital Society, Rights, and Governance

  • Digital Agenda 2020-2030 is the current comprehensive government strategy, but can be improved upon with clear implementation details.
  • The government of El Salvador prioritizes the use of technology and the internet in public services but the lack of capacity, strategy, and infrastructure that ensure interoperability, digital ID, and data governance present ongoing challenges.
  • The lack of a personal data protection law or a cybersecurity law is a risk for safe technology adoption.
  • There is no strong CSO leadership in the digital rights space due to a lack of capacity, skills, and tools.

Pillar 3: Digital Economy

  • 64 percent of Salvadorans do not have a financial institution (traditional bank or mobile money) account. Only 11 percent of Salvadorans had a mobile money account as of 2021.
  • Most traditional banks only recently started to offer digitized services to their customers after the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Bitcoin’s rise in El Salvador has been highlighted prominently on the world stage, but actual use of the technology has been low and concerns around consumer protection remain.
  • E-commerce provision and use has just begun to rise since the COVID-19 pandemic. HUGO’s success shows the potential for e-commerce and startup development in El Salvador.
  • Growth of the startup ecosystem is constrained by regulatory challenges, lack of innovation, and lack of access to finance.

mAccess Indicators & Rankings

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

Country Snapshot – El Salvador

  • 2G Coverage:


  • 3G Coverage:


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


  • EIU Rank:


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  • Number of Internet Exchange Points (IXPs):


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  • Number of active mobile money agents:


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  • WEF Rank:


Access – El Salvador

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  • Active SIM cards per 100 inhabitants:


Affordability – El Salvador

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Competition – El Salvador

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Infrastructure – El Salvador

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Usage – El Salvador

  • Average revenue per user (Blended ARPU):


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  • 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 El Salvador. Click here to explore the full tool.

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