Oh internet, where art thou?
Turkey has ambitious goals. It wants to be one of the biggest financial centers in the world. It wants to be a logistics hub, a hub for major airlines for transit passengers, a technology leader, and an education beacon for the rest of the world. It wants to be a military powerhouse and be among the top 10 economies by the year of 2023.
This list goes on and on. We have ambitious leaders and the ambitions of our society match those in every corner.
For these goals to be realized, we have to work a lot and very cleverly. We need solid strategies.
However, we must realize a few shortcomings before launching great endeavors as listed above. You may have the best strategy, you may have the greatest support in the government, you may have a society unified behind certain goals, but if you lack the basic foundations, you will fail.
Turkey has some major infrastructural issues. Lately, the most apparent is internet connectivity. For years, telecommunication companies aired TV campaigns about how advanced our internet backbone is. However, it is 2019 and Turkey lags behind the rest of the world miserably.
Internet penetration in Turkey is at 71 percent. This is barely above the rates in Colombia and Mexico. The rest of the world, especially the countries that we compare ourselves to, has internet penetration at around 99 percent. We sometimes think that Africa is years behind us in terms of technology, but Kenya’s internet penetration is at 81 percent.
Internet speed is even worse than internet connectivity. We are among those at the bottom of the list. The world average is 54.3 Mbps, and Turkey is at 19.3. There are only a handful of countries that use slower internet than Turkey, such as Colombia, Egypt and Morocco. The countries that we say we want to compete with enjoy internet speeds at around 110 Mbps.
However, we are among the first-tier countries when it comes to the time spent using internet, with seven hours and 15 minutes. The interesting fact is that when you compare the internet speed and penetration statistics with the time spent using the internet, there is a negative correlation. The countries who are much better at speed and penetration are the ones who use internet the least. For example, Switzerland, the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Germany and Japan’s average are all around four hours.
So we use slower internet for long hours, whereas the countries that we are trying to surpass use fast internet but less.
This alone is a pretty good indicator of why we cannot realize any of our goals soon. In an age where the real value creation lies in the digital world, even in farming, with such backwards connectivity, Turkey cannot compete with any of its rivals.
Something must be done about this, and it must be done quickly.