We live so comfortably in our Wi-Fi connected homes with smartphones and apps that can deliver almost anything to our doorstep that we often forget there is a whole another world out there.
Forget smartphones, there are countries where people don’t even have landlines. The call rates are so expensive and the average wage is so little that people cannot afford them. For us, a phone might be a necessity, but for some, it’s nothing more than luxury.
While some of the countries just don’t have the right terrain to support and develop technology, others don’t have the right funds for it. There are countries like Timor-Leste which are located on such isolated islands that setting up electricity and telecommunication lines prove to be extremely expensive. And then there are countries like Sierra Leone which are engulfed by locals wars so often that technological advancements is not even an option when people are just trying to survive.
And then there is Lesotho where technological advancements aren’t really a priority since 50% of their female population is affected with HIV and sexual violence. The country is more focused on being able to provide better healthcare services to their citizens than faster internet.
Here are 15 countries where technology is 20 years behind the rest of the world.
Often touted as the North Korea of Africa, Eritrea is a dictator controlled country with only one network operator for landlines and mobile phones. As expected, the company is controlled by the government itself and the call charges for them are incredibly high.
That is the reason why only 0.91% of the residents of Eritrea have access to the internet. So, most of them probably don’t even know what’s really going on in the world. They have to rely on propaganda newspapers and TV channels to get their news. Only 5% of the total population has mobile phones and just 1% of them have landlines. Rest of the people still live without any phone or internet.
Also known as East Timor, there are chances that you might not have heard about Timor-Leste and that is because it is a relatively new country located on the eastern side of the island of Timor, on the north of Australia and Timor Sea. It borders Savu Sea on the north and Indonesia on the west.
But since the country is new, it is still under construction, and most of its revenue depends on oil and gas projects which may run out in the next decade or so. That is the reason why out of the 1.2 million people in the country, only 1% are connected to the internet and the country still struggles.
Amid the huge partition of India and Pakistan, Bangladesh was the country that got the last end of the straw. The country has seen many turmoils in the last few decades. There have been civil wars, unrests, and lack of human rights.
While the country may have advanced in the last few years, there are still many strides to be done as Bangladesh continues to support low paid manufacturing factories of high end brands like Zara, H&M, and GAP. Many of these factories have such horrifying working conditions that they’ve received worldwide media attention about the poor conditions – but to no avail. But the country still allows these factories to run since there are no strides in the technological department to generate revenue.
This African country is not behind technologically because of a dictator or illegal human right laws, but it’s the corrupt government and oppressive system that continues to pull Uganda backwards.
With overpopulation and backward human right laws, the people of Uganda suffer everyday. Not to mention child labour and extrajudicial killings still continue in the country. In fact, Uganda is so backward that it was only in 2015 that the country was able to shift from analogue to digital TV. And internet is still not easy to access from the country.
11. Sierre Leone
You might remember Sierra Leone from Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie, Blood Diamonds. Because of numerous local wars and corruptions the country has had, the living conditions in Sierra Leone are hard for people and as expected the internet is even more difficult to get.
In fact, the radio is still the most reliable source of information for the people in Sierra Leone as 72% of the people listen to it daily. Only 1.8% of the population has access to the internet and 3G and fibre internet have only just been introduced.
Laos is a landlocked Asian country engulfed in communal disharmony, illegal trading and farming of natural resources, and increasing crime rates, making it one of the most corrupt countries in the world. However, lack of communication and cooperation with foreign investors and global corporations has caused the investors to end ties with the East Asian country. This has taken a toll on the country’s technological growth.
One third of the Laos population earns less than $1.25 daily, making it one of the poorest countries in the world. It ranks 29th among 52 hungriest countries (as reported by Global Hunger Index (2015)). It’s major source of income is through trade with its neighbouring countries, especially China.
Tanzania is an African country which is underdeveloped due to rampant crime scenes throughout most of its areas. 18% of electricity generated in 2012 was either illegally transmitted, stolen, or not equally distributed among the population. Electricity cut-offs and blackouts are common in Tanzania due to its underdeveloped electric plants.
Since people struggle to find enough money for food, they often steal valuable equipment and sell it for personal profit. Even though in the recent years the country’s GDP has shown constant growth because of telecommunication, tourism, and banking, the government has done very little to reduce poverty and malnutrition.
Known for being a treasure of natural resources, Mozambique is an East African country which mostly goes unnoticed. The country’s inability to provide sufficient drinking water, adequate sanitation, and education reflects that development isn’t a priority.
While Mozambique is still overcoming the after effects of the civil war that ended in 1992, floods in the recent years due to poor infrastructure of dams have deterred the country’s technological progress. Almost 80% of the population is employed in agriculture. Resettlement of refugees and economic reforms have helped in increasing the growth rate, along with exponential group in the tourism and transportation industry.
Lesotho is a tiny South African country with a population of just over two million. The country is severely infected with HIV, making it the main reason behind Lesotho’s backwards developmental. Around 50% of women under 40 in urban Lesotho have HIV. Lesotho has the highest rate of rape than any other country as reported by UN (91.9 out of 100,000 women have report being raped every year).
The population struggles for basic rights such as proper healthcare, education, and transport. Other social issues faced are treatment of people with disability, cultural inhibitions stopping people from progressing towards education and employment, and use of primitive technology.
6. Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso is another African country plagued by corruption and terrorist invasion. The country’s long battle with water shortage has resulted in lack of technological advancements. Burkina Faso’s past is polluted with wars, political disharmony, ousting, and “liberation”, so every progress made by the previous government was washed by the new one. No attention is paid to the poor infrastructure of transport system in the country.
According to European Commission, 500,000 children below 5 years of age suffer from severe malnutrition. Effective and accessible health systems, social sciences, strengthening of the Scientific Research ministry’s operational strategies are the prime areas of focus of the new government.
Cambodia is a Lower Middle Income country located in Southeast Asia. The country was formally ruled by a monarch and was declared a democracy in 1997. Lack of political freedom, poverty, low human development, corruption, and high rate of hunger are some of the issues faced by the Cambodian population.
Despite being surrounded by countries like Thailand and Vietnam, trading and communication to other parts of the world is cut-off. The technology used is relatively primitive, which reflects their attitude towards development. On the brighter side, the government is a female-biased government with a sex ratio of 1.04:1.
Still being under the rule of monarchy has resulted in technological backwardness in the country. Bhutan is a beautiful country with amazing landscapes and food, but the structures and tools used are made from primitive materials. The major source of income for Bhutan is through tourism, agriculture, and selling hydroelectric power to India.
Being a landlocked country with no railways has limited the Bhutan’s industrial growth. Even though Bhutan was named as the least corrupt country in 2016, it also is the least developed country. Would the reason for lack of advanced technology and industrialization be because of Bhutan’s aim to conserve nature and maintain net zero greenhouse gas emissions?
The Caribbean island of Haiti seems to still be recovering from the earthquake of 2010. Haiti has a past of endless battles for freedom which drained out the country’s economy, making it the least technologically advanced country in the world. The country has a shortage of basic facilities such as educational system, telecommunication, electricity and power, internet, and research.
Even though Haiti has received financial aid of over US $4 billion, with majority of it coming from the USA, the economy is yet not stabilized. It is ranked last in the World Economic Forum’s Network Readiness Index (among North American countries) in information and communication technologies.
2. North Korea
North Korea is a country that represents violation of human rights. The country’s “Supreme Leader” Kim Jong-Un has banned almost every daily activity that normal people do such as drinking alcohol and watching television.
Only 4.7% of people have landline connections and 9.7% have cell phone connections, which means only 1 out of 10 North Koreans have mobile phones. Locals can’t have access to the World Wide Web and aren’t allowed to interact with people out of the country (through social media). Instead, they have an intra-country intranet portal run by the government. However, foreigners can access 3G cellular network launched by Egyptian Telecommunication Company Orascom.
The Pacific island nation tops the list of countries that are 20 years behind in technological advancements than the rest of the world. Kiribati is one of the least developed countries in the world, with little to no natural resources left. The country is located far away from rest of the world making it difficult for internet to reach there.
Kiribati is also one of the most vulnerable nations in terms of global warming. Lack of technology has resulted in increased incidences of foodborne illness among the population due to lack of cold-storage facilities and contamination of fresh water supplies. Another major concern of the country is lack of fresh drinking water.
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