Digital Services Access Survey (DigiSAS)

Research shows that e-government efforts are not as successful in developing countries as they are in developed countries (Dada, 2006). BIGD conducted a “Digital Literacy and Access to Public Services” survey in 2019, which showed that digital literacy among the rural people of Bangladesh is critically low. The Digital Services Access Survey (DigiSAS) aims to examine the change in uptake of public digital services over the last two years and how the digital skills of the most digitally able persons changed in the intervening time. 

Researchers: Khandker Wahedur Rahman; Shabnaz Zubaid; Semab Rahman; Marjan Hossain; Nutan Farah Haq

Timeline: March 2021–June 2022

Status: Ongoing

Method: Quantitative

Contact: Semab Rahman



The main motive of the study is to see the change in uptake of public digital services and how digital skills of the most digitally able persons changed since the “Digital Literacy and Access to Public Services” survey was conducted by BIGD in 2019. Despite the necessity for and the government’s efforts to digitize public services and establish an e-government, such initiatives are historically not as successful in developing countries as they are in developed countries (Dada, 2006). In Bangladesh, there is a debate on the success of e-services in raising citizens’ adoption rates, given that digital literacy in rural Bangladesh is so low. However, there i‌s‌ ‌no‌ empirical ‌research‌ ‌yet‌ ‌that‌ ‌shows‌ ‌the‌ ‌details‌ ‌of‌ ‌uptake‌ ‌of‌ ‌digital‌ ‌services‌ ‌in‌ ‌Bangladesh.


To understand if people in Bangladesh are digitally enabled enough to take full advantage of the plethora of digital services available to them. In addition, the researchers want to see the effect of trust, digital literacy, and information literacy on digital content belief structure among rural Bangladeshis. The survey will also help to understand how social safety net beneficiaries have fared during the two years of pandemic and capture any changes in their livelihoods, expenditure behaviour, and coping strategies using digital services provided by the Government of Bangladesh. The survey will help map the coverage of union digital centre digital service providing agencies (for example, Union Digital Centres (UDCs), private cyber cafés, etc.) and analyze how the household-level usage of digital service varies with respect to the variation in UDC coverage and infrastructural conditions at the union level. 


The study consists of a panel household survey of 6,000 rural households from 60 districts in Bangladesh. This is designed to give an idea about the national-level scenario of access to and use of digital public services, along with digital literacy of rural households. The survey will also look into the effect of trust, digital literacy and information literacy on digital content belief structure. We will collect information on demographic variables such as respondents’ age, sex and gender, household location and income, etc., and visual literacy tests will be conducted. The survey also seeks to find information from the suppliers’ end. In 2019, a digital literacy survey conducted by BIGD covered households and e-governance services that the household members availed and the agencies (UDCs, private providers, etc.) from which they availed such services. To develop a better perspective of household level analysis, some parametric information (which will be the constraining factors or conditioning factors of household level responses) will be collected from the agency entrepreneurs. 

Findings and Recommendations

The findings from the survey reveal several significant themes. First, in the 2021 survey round, gender parity was observed among MDAPs, with high mobile phone accessibility. However, access to internet-enabled phones and the internet itself was moderate to low, particularly for female MDAPs. Second, moderate to low proportions of MDAPs possessed ICT-based communication skills, with a lower percentage skilled in extracting specific online information. Third, among MDAPs present in both 2019 and 2021 rounds, there was a noteworthy increase in smartphone and internet access, coinciding with improved emailing and online information-seeking abilities, potentially influenced by COVID-19 lockdowns. Fourth, certain identification and social safety net services like birth and national ID registration showed high digital adoption. Fifth, digital literacy didn’t necessarily correlate with self-use of services, indicating potential issues with service awareness or usability. Sixth, Union Digital Centres and Union Parishads were frequented for certain services requiring non-digital components. Finally, higher digital literacy was associated with individual uptake of services such as electricity bill payment, online exam result checking, mobile banking, and COVID-19 vaccine registration

The recommendations are as follows,

  1. Strengthen Digital Literacy Programs: Implement comprehensive digital literacy initiatives to bridge skill gaps and ensure citizens are equipped to navigate online services effectively.
  2. Enhance Service Awareness Initiatives: Launch targeted awareness campaigns to inform citizens about available digital services, improving their understanding and utilization.
  3. Simplify Online Service Design: Streamline the design of online services to enhance user experience, making them more intuitive and user-friendly.
  4. Provide User-Friendly Guidance: Develop clear and accessible guidance for complex transactions within online services, facilitating independent utilization.
  5. Empower Local Centers: Further empower Union Digital Centres and Union Parishads as essential service points, catering to citizens’ needs and preferences.
  6. Address Gender-Specific Disparities: Tackle gender-specific digital access disparities by implementing measures to ensure equal digital opportunities for all citizens.
  7. User-Centric Online Platforms: Design online service platforms with a user-centric approach, focusing on user needs and preferences for enhanced usability.
  8. Collaborate with Intermediaries: Foster partnerships with intermediaries to effectively disseminate digital services, leveraging their local presence and expertise.