Romania ranks last out of the EU-28 in the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) 2018. While its ranking remained unchanged over 2017, its score increased thanks to an improved performance in four of the five DESI dimensions, Country Report reads.
DESI is a composite index that summarises relevant indicators on Europe’s digital performance and tracks the evolution of EU member states in digital competitiveness.
However, overall progress last year was slow and Romania did not manage to catch up. Digitisation of the economy and digital skills in the population is low and hinders progress in most of the DESI dimensions. On the other hand, 44 percent of Romanian homes subscribe to ultrafast broadband (which is the 2nd highest in the EU). ICT contributes 6-7 percent to Romania’s GDP and the digital sector is growing, with two major hubs in Bucharest and Cluj as well as significant ICT investments in other cities.
In 2017, Romania continued to make progress in achieving the Digital Agenda for Europe objectives, for example in improving the connectivity index. However, Romania’s fixed broadband coverage stagnated around 88 percent in the past year and still lags behind most Member States (ranked 27th in the EU).
Romania also lags behind on mobile 4G broadband coverage despite a leap from 45 percent in 2016 to 72 percent in 2017. The strong infrastructure-based competition in Romania, mainly in urban areas, is reflected in the indicators where Romania’s performance is outstanding, namely the fast broadband take-up. A significantly higher ratio of homes (53 percent) are subscribing to fast broadband (>=30 Mbps) than the EU average of 33 percent. With almost three times as many subscriptions to ultra-fast broadband (43.8 percent of subscriptions to >100Mbps), Romania largely outperforms the EU average of 15.4 percent. This is due to the large share of fibre deployment in urban markets. In the fixed broadband market, an alternative operator has the biggest market share by relying on fibre access network infrastructure and has further increased its market share in 2017.
In human capital, Romania ranks well below the EU average in terms of internet users, but there is progress with more and more people getting online and gradually improving their digital skills, the report shows. Only 61 percent Romanians are regular internet users compared to the EU average of 81 percent. When it comes to basic digital skills, Romania does not show significant improvement on last year, and the EU average is almost twice as high (57 percent). On ICT specialists, Romania shows little progress, with only 2 percent of employed people working in the field.
Although there is gradual progress year-on-year, Romania continues to rank last among the EU-28. Romanians read the news online (69 percent), listen to music, watch videos and play games (67 percent) and use the Internet for voice or video calls (53 percent). While Romanians are keen to engage in social networks and video calls, they are not so keen to use the Internet for online shopping (23 percent — ranked 28th) and eBanking (11 percent — ranked 27th) compared to the EU average.
In the integration of digital technologies by businesses, Romania remains at the bottom of the ranking and is not progressing. Romania scores 17.8, recording a drop of 4 percent compared to last year, while the EU average increased by 9 percent compared to the DESI 2017. The percentage of businesses using technologies such as electronic information sharing (17 percent – ranked 27th) and RFID (2.4 percent – ranked 24th), have decreased. On RFID, the decrease was sharp, since Romania dropped 10 places, from 14th to 24th. Also, no significant progress has been registered in terms of SMEs selling online (7.7 percent – ranked 27th), use of Cloud services (6 percent – ranked 26th) and e-commerce turnover for SMEs (5.2 percent – ranked 25th), while a small decrease was observed in selling online cross-border (1.8 percent) where Romania ranks last, while the EU average is 8.4 percent.
DESI also reveals Romania’s performance is well below the EU average in terms of digital public services, but has made progress compared to last year. Romania has advanced mainly on the supply side by increasing the number of services that can be completed online and by improving on automatically pre-filling forms for citizens. That said, Romania still ranks 28th on digital public services. Romania has also made progress in promoting an Open Data policy and ranks 10th on this indicator.