Belgium lags behind in digital infrastructure roll-out, EU report finds

Although progress has been made in rolling out 5G and very high capacity networks (VHCN), Belgium's digital infrastructure continues to lag behind, a report on the digital transition in the EU states. By contrast, businesses score well and the government is also making progress in its digital services.

In the report, the European Commission assesses how far member states are from meeting a series of targets set last year. The targets, part of the Digital Decade plan, cover digital skills, infrastructure and the digitisation of businesses and government, intended to realise Europe's digital transformation.

In terms of infrastructure, the Commission expects an acceleration in the coming years. Belgium is still "far behind" in terms of fibre-to-home coverage (17 per cent compared to an EU average of 56 per cent). However, the coverage of VHCNs is improving, at 78 per cent compared to an EU average of 73 per cent.

Low 5G coverage

Belgium also has some catching up to do in terms of 5G deployment. Although coverage in populated areas jumped from 4 to 30 per cent between 2021 and 2022, it is still very limited compared to the EU average of 81 per cent.

Belgium scores well in terms of digitisation of enterprises. More SMEs in Belgium have already reached a baseline level of digital intensity than elsewhere in the EU (77 versus 69 per cent). Belgian companies are also doing above average in their use of cloud computing services, big data and AI.

The government continues to make progress with its digital services, performing better than the EU average and on track to meet its targets by 2030. By then, for example, all key public services for citizens and businesses should be available online and all citizens should have access to electronic health records.

Currently, 54 per cent of Belgians have basic digital skills, in line with the European average. This needs to be raised to 80 per cent by 2030. The workforce has proportionally more ICT specialists than the EU average (5.6 versus 4.6 per cent). However, the number of ICT graduates is lower than this average (2.8 per cent of all graduates compared to 4.2 per cent).



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