While Belgium scores highly when it comes to e-security compared to the rest of the world, a recent report shows its internet quality is the worst in Western Europe.
The 2021 Digital Quality of Life report comes from Surfshark, a VPN service company that evaluated digital wellbeing across the world.
Belgium ranked 25th out of 110 countries for its Digital Quality of Life (DQL) index this year, but only 7th in Western Europe.
Their internet quality score actually dropped by 30 percent since the previous report last year, making it the worst in the region.
On top of being poor quality, it’s also less affordable: people in Belgium have to work 20 times harder than those in France to afford mobile internet and twice as hard to pay for the cheapest broadband package.
Belgium does still have the best e-security in Western Europe, though it dropped one place globally since last year.
“Digital opportunities have proved to be more important than ever during the COVID-19 crisis, stressing the need for every country to ensure fully remote operational capacities for their economies,” Vytautas Kaziukonis, CEO of Surfshark, said in a press release.
“That is why, for the third year in a row, we continue the Digital Quality of Life research, which provides a robust global outlook into how countries excel digitally. The index sets the basis for meaningful discussions about how digital advancement impacts a country’s prosperity and where improvements can be made.”
The DQL covers 90 percent of the global population and is based on five pillars: e-security, e-infrastructure, internet quality, internet affordability and e-government.
Globally, Belgium is 7th in e-security, 17th in e-infrastructure, 37th in internet quality, 42nd in internet affordability and 47th in e-government.
Despite the poor performance in many tested areas, Belgium is still among the top 10 in the world when it comes to e-security and the best in Western Europe.
Its e-infrastructure index is also around 30 percent higher than the global average, and around 94 percent of individuals use the internet in Belgium.
Globally, Denmark is number one in the world with the top DQL, followed closely by South Korea.
Finland ranks third, followed by Israel and the US.
The bottom five countries are Ethiopia, Cambodia, Cameroon, Guatemala and Angola.
The report also found that broadband became globally less affordable this year, though mobile internet became cheaper.
“The world’s worst internet is the least affordable,” the report said.
“People in some countries, such as Nigeria, Côte D'Ivoire and Mali require approximately a week’s worth of work to afford the internet.”
They said that investing in electronic infrastructure and electronic government contributes to people’s digital wellbeing the most.
The study was based on open-source information provided by the United Nations, the World Bank, Freedom House, the International Communications Union and other sources.