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Malta ranks 11 in Europe’s digital performance index

81% of Maltese internet users read news online • Malta scores low in making government data available

Miriam Dalli
27 February 2016, 4:03pm
A European digital performance index released by the European Commission has ranked Malta 11 out of the 28 member states of the European Union.

In the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) 2016, Malta received an overall score of 0.56, ranking particularly strong in broadband deployment and take-up. It was also reported that all Maltese households were covered by fixed broadband and all networks provide at least 30 Mbps.

In addition, more than half (58%) of broadband subscriptions provides speeds of at least 30Mbps.

As for the weak points, Malta is lagging behind in the assignment of radio spectrum for mobile broadband and in making government data available.

Malta’s DESI score is above the EU average and the country developed faster than the EU over the last year, which places it in the running ahead  cluster of countries.

In a reaction, parliamentary secretary for competitiveness José Herrera praised the “good work being carried out by the Malta Communications Authority (MCA) and the Malta Information Technology Agency (MITA)” which made such positive results possible.

“It is through this effort and momentum that the Government launched the Digital Malta Strategy with a considerable number of initiatives that are resulting to be successful,” Herrera said.

Connectivity is the DESI 2016 dimension, where Malta performs best. With an overall Connectivity score of 0.67, the country ranks 9th among EU countries and above the EU average. All Maltese households are covered by fixed broadband and all networks are NGA (i.e. they provide at least 30 Mbps).

Malta has a universal broadband coverage, and the whole of the population can have access to fast broadband (at least 30 Mbps). The take up of fixed broadband is well above the EU average. The majority of consumers have already migrated to fast broadband services.

Nevertheless, Malta needs to improve its performance in mobile. Despite the fact, that 4G services are available to close three quarter of the population; the take up of mobile broadband is below EU average. This may be the outcome of the limited harmonisation of spectrum bands.

With a Human Capital score of 0.6, Malta ranks 15th among EU countries, and ranks a bit higher than a year ago (17th).

According to report, in order to fully develop its digital economy and society, Malta needs to engage its citizens to use the Internet. Although 74% Maltese are regular internet users, up from 70% a year ago, but, Malta still scores below the EU average. Moreover, 22% of the Maltese population has never used the internet (EU average: 16%).

Malta shows a mixed picture in digital skills: only 52% individuals have at least basic digital skills (EU average 55%), while ICT specialists have a relatively high share in the workforce (4.6% compared to 3.7% in the EU).

STEM (Science, Technology and Mathematics) graduates play an important role in exploiting the opportunities offered by digital technologies in businesses. Malta ranks 18th on this indicator, below the EU average.

In terms of the use of Internet services, Malta scores 0.51 and ranks 11th among EU countries.

Maltese Internet users engage in a broad range of online activities. They read news online (81%), listen to music, watch films and play games online (56%) as well as use the Internet to communicate via voice or video calls (45%) or through social networks (78%). For all of these activities, engagement among the Maltese is higher than the EU average. Malta outperforms the EU also in online banking and shopping.

However, regarding the use of video on demand, Malta's score of 9.5% is well below the EU average of 41%.

In the Integration of Digital Technology by businesses, Malta scores 0.37, and ranks 13th among EU countries. Malta’s businesses still need to better exploit the possibilities offered by Electronic Information Sharing, eInvoices and eCommerce of SMEs.

In Digital Public Services Malta scores 0.63, and ranks 11th among EU countries. Malta is well above the average in the sophistication of online public services and in online service completion. Nevertheless, the percentage of eGovernment users is low.

Modern public services offered online in an efficient vehicle for reducing public spending and drive efficiency gains for enterprises, citizens, and the public administration itself.

Malta scores very well in the availability and sophistication of eGovernment services. However, use by citizens does not match the ambition of the supply side: with only 28% of internet users fully engaging with the public authorities on line.

Moreover, Malta scores low in making government data available.

Miriam Dalli graduated in communications studies from the University of ...
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