|ARC Fund has released its latest e-Bulgaria 2006 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 fourth in a series of e-readiness analyses which ARC Fund has published, including: ICT Infrastructure and e-Readiness Report released in 2002, e-Bulgaria 2004 Report in October 2004, and e-Bulgaria 2005 Report in July 2005.
This year report puts forward some conclusions about the progress which Bulgaria has shown as well as the gaps that still remain to be addressed in terms of e-access, e-society, e-education, e-business, e-government and e-policy:
The share of Internet users in the country has reached 26 % of the population aged 15 and over. The projections suggest that by 2007 some 34% of the population would be using the Internet;
The most significant development compared to the situation portrayed in the previous report - e-Bulgaria 2005 - was access to PCs and the Internet at schools. The government’s large-scale investment in ICTs in schools has practically leveled this divide but other important issues remain unresolved – e.g. the need for training teachers in specific regions in the country;
A key challenge for policy makers remains the digital divide among disadvantaged groups and ethic minorities. The data suggest that Internet penetration rates among ethnic groups are 3 to 5 times lower than the average figures for the country;
Penetration of new ICTs in businesses seems to approach a level of saturation. In 2006 90 % of businesses have at least one computer, 75-80 % have access to the Internet allowing around 27 % of employees to have Internet access at their workplace. Currently 24 % of enterprises have web-sites. 11 % of them provide opportunities for online orders. 21 % of all enterprises have digital signatures in 2006, which are used mainly to optimize the communications with government institutions;
E-government could be a serious multiplier in information society development, yet the report shows a rather weak political commitment to implement e-government services in Bulgaria, disturbing inefficiencies in IT procurement, and little horizontal coordination among the various government agencies.
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 to 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 e-Bulgaria 2006 report took place on September 13th and was attended by Mr. Florian Fichtl, World Bank Country Manager for Bulgaria, Mr. Kauko Jämsen, Ambassador of Finland to Bulgaria, Mr. Dimitar Stanchev, vice-chairman of the State Agency for ICT, and Mr. Nikolay Kamov, MP and leader of Bulgaria’s Social-democratic movement. Also present were more than fifty representatives of government ministries, business associations, NGOs, international organizations, and mass media.
E-Bulgaria 2006 Report (PDF, 4.7 MB, in Bulgarian)
Media Coverage (in Bulgarian)
Previous reports in this series:
E-Bulgaria Report 2005 (PDF, 2.4 MB, in Bulgarian)
E-Bulgaria Report 2004 (PDF, 3.6 MB)
Bulgaria: ICT Infrastructure and E-Readiness Assessment, 2002, (PDF, 600 KB)