Foundation Projects

Digital Leap South Asia

APNIC Foundation

South Asia is characterized by a diverse Internet landscape, with each economy playing a role in the larger digital evolution of the sub-region. According to the ITU’s 2022 World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Database, there are five South Asian economies where over 50% of the population is offline – Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India.

The offline population in South Asia accounts for a total of over 1.49b. This is over 57% of the total 2.6b unconnected people of the world (ITU). This remarkable statistics positions South Asia as home to the largest offline population, globally.

There are multiple factors causing these challenges, including skill shortages, investment barriers, unclear regulations, infrastructure deficiencies, and inadequate regional collaboration. Insufficient skilled professionals, coupled with a lack of training opportunities, slow down development. Meanwhile, delays in infrastructure expansion and market competition are caused by inadequate investment and regulatory challenges. Complex policy and the regulatory environment further worsen these issues. Geographical challenges also result in poor-quality Internet services. Moreover, limited regional cooperation restricts collaborative solutions.

APNIC Foundation’s Response to the problem:

The Foundation, following a community consultation in Afghanistan in 2022, launched a skills development project starting from Afghanistan which trained 30 (about 30% women) Internet professionals in new Internet topics with a diverse array of online training and certification programs and resources. Additionally, the Afghanistan Project actively supported a number of community-led initiatives, including Afghanistan School on Internet Governance (AFSIG), Afghanistan Network Operators Group (AFNOG), the national Afghanistan Internet Governance Forum (IGF); and Afghanistan Youth IGF (AyIGF). 

Building on the success of the Afghanistan Project, the APNIC Foundation is broadening the project’s scope to include the wider South Asian region under the new ‘Digital Leap South Asia’ initiative. The project covers three economies, adding the Maldives and Pakistan.

Project Goal and Objectives

The goal of the project is to help enhance technical skills and competencies in Internet development, operations, security, and policy and regulatory in three South Asian economies of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Maldives. 

The project objectives are to: 

  • Increase awareness and encourage best practices in Internet governance.
  • Develop technical knowledge and skills. 
  • Enhance regional collaboration and engagement, particularly in areas of policy/regulations and infrastructure.