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e-Bulgaria 2005 Report Release

ARC Fund has released its latest e-Bulgaria 2005 Report which analyzes the progress in ICT infrastructure deployment in the country, as well as the penetration and use of internet and ICT-related services in Bulgarian households, enterprises, schools, universities and government institutions over this year. The report presents a wealth of empirical and qualitative data, synthetic indicators, trend analysis and projections, policy options and recommendations for the future development of information society in the country.

This report is the third in a series of e-readiness analyses which ARC Fund has published since an ICT Infrastructure and e-Readiness Report published in 2002 and e-Bulgaria Report released in October 2004.

This year’s report makes some interesting conclusions about the progress which Bulgaria has made, and the gaps that remain to be addressed in terms of e-access, e-society, e-education, e-business, e-government and e-policy:

• Although PCs in households have doubled in 2005 compared to 2004, the share of population with access to computers at their homes, currently calculated at 18 %, is not yet enough to ensure efficient functioning of an information society;
• The share of internet users in the country has increased by some 50 % since last year, reaching 24 % of the population aged 15 and over. The projections suggest that by 2007 half of the population would be using internet;
• Year 2005 marks a transition from low-speed dial-up connections (2/3 of connections in 2004), to high-speed LANs and cable networks (2/3 of connections in 2005);
• Despite significant improvements, the e-Bulgaria 2005 report also outlines disturbing socio-economic divides in internet usage which can be expected to have a negative long-term impact. For example, only 2 % of the Roma population and 5 % of ethic Turkish population are reported to use internet. Divides could be explained by socio-economic factors and lower access to computers at homes and schools in these communities, while access to computer and internet clubs is not dependent on ethnicity.
• Structural problems arise from lack of online content and methodological tools for e-learning, and poor technological skills particularly among secondary school teachers. The large-scale government investment in ICT infrastructure in schools in the first half of 2005 would not be utilized without further development of educational content and teacher training programs.

The main purpose of ARC Fund’s e-Bulgaria reports is to assist the main stakeholders in the country’s ICT community, including policy makers, international donor agencies, private sector organizations and others, in formulating adequate policies which take advantage of ICTs as a powerful enabler of economic growth and competitiveness. It also serves as an advocacy tool in sensitizing local politicians and policy-makers on the importance of ICT for economic and social development, and a promotional tool in publicizing Bulgaria's performance and potential with respect to ICTs before international donors and investors.

The launching ceremony of this year’s e-Bulgaria 2005 report took place on July 28th at the Information Society Promotion Office and was attended by Mr. Neil Buhne, Resident Representative of UNDP in Bulgaria, Mr. Orlin Kouzov, CEO of Bulgaria’s ICT Development Agency, Mr. Alexander Ognianov, Director, Information Society Directorate at the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Prof. Antoni Slavinski, Chair of the Telecommunications Association (and former Minister of Transport and Communications). Also present were more than 50 representatives of government ministries, business associations, NGOs, international organizations, and mass media.

E-Bulgaria 2005 Report (in Bulgarian, PDF, 2.5 MB)
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