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Belarus has become a notable player in the crypto and blockchain space in Eastern Europe. The Decree on the Development of the Digital Economy legalises cryptocurrencies and related activities like mining and trading, providing clear legal status and fostering a secure environment for digital currency operations​. The country’s detailed regulations for Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) ensure security and investor protection, requiring smart contract audits and stringent cybersecurity practices​ ​. Looking ahead, Belarus is exploring the potential of a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) to stay at the forefront of financial innovation​.

Internet governance

Internet governance in Belarus is shaped by a combination of regulatory measures, state control, and international dynamics. The Belarusian government maintains strict oversight of the internet, influencing both its development and usage within the country.

Legal and Regulatory Framework

  1. Media Law: The primary legal framework governing the internet in Belarus is the Media Law, which includes provisions for regulating online content. This law mandates the registration of online news websites and subjects them to similar regulations as traditional media outlets.
  2. Decree No. 60: Enacted in 2010, this decree established extensive control over the internet, requiring internet service providers (ISPs) to monitor and store user data, as well as block access to specific websites deemed illegal by the state.
  3. Decree No. 8: Issued in 2018, this decree focuses on the development of the digital economy, including blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. While it aims to foster innovation, it also includes mechanisms for state control over digital financial transactions.

State Control and Surveillance

  1. Monitoring and Filtering: The Belarusian government employs sophisticated monitoring and filtering technologies to control online content. ISPs are required to comply with government directives to block access to websites that contain content considered harmful or subversive.
  2. Surveillance: The state conducts extensive surveillance of online activities. This includes monitoring social media platforms, messaging apps, and personal communications. Authorities have the capability to intercept and analyse digital communications.
  3. Criminalisation of Online Activities: Individuals can face legal consequences for online activities that are perceived as dissent or criticism of the government. This includes charges related to spreading “extremist” content or organising protests via social media.

Internet Access and Infrastructure

  1. Connectivity: Internet access in Belarus is widespread, with a relatively high penetration rate. However, the quality and speed of internet services can be inconsistent, partly due to state interventions and infrastructural limitations.
  2. State-Owned ISPs: The majority of ISPs in Belarus are state-owned or closely affiliated with the government, ensuring that the state maintains significant control over internet infrastructure and services.
  3. Shutdowns and Restrictions: The government has the capability to shut down or severely restrict internet access during periods of political unrest or public demonstrations. This has been observed during significant political events, such as the 2020 presidential election protests.
Digital strategies

Digital Transformation in Belarus

Belarus has been actively pursuing digital transformation in recent years, with several key initiatives and strategies underway:

Digital Development Strategy for 2026-2030

  • The government of Belarus is currently developing a new Digital Development Strategy for 2026-2030. This strategy will aim to guide the country’s digital development at three levels: the digital development regulator, the industry economy (regions), and individual citizens.

State Program ‘Digital Development of Belarus 2021-2025’

  • The current state program, ‘Digital Development of Belarus 2021-2025’, is nearing completion. This program has focused on increasing connectivity, digital skills, and the use of digital technologies across the economy and society.

Assessing Digital Readiness

Focus Areas for Digital Transformation

The digital transformation efforts in Belarus have focused on several key areas:

  1. Improving Digital Connectivity and Access
    • Belarus has a high internet penetration, with 89% of the urban population and 73% of the rural population using the internet. However, there are still disparities that need to be addressed.
  2. Developing Digital Skills
    • Increasing digital literacy and skills among the population is a priority, to ensure everyone can benefit from the digital transformation.
  3. Promoting Digital Entrepreneurship and Innovation
    • Digital technologies are seen as enablers for local economic development, entrepreneurship, and the scaling up of businesses, especially in rural and regional areas.
    • Platforms and initiatives are being developed to support SMEs and local businesses in their digital transformation.
  4. Leveraging Digital Solutions for Sustainable Development
    • Digital tools and applications are being explored to address challenges in areas like climate change adaptation, renewable energy, and public service delivery.
  5. Strengthening Digital Governance and Regulation
    • The government is working to develop appropriate policies and regulations to govern the digital space and ensure the safe and ethical use of technologies like AI.

The Belarusian government has implemented various policies, frameworks, and institutions to enhance cybersecurity, although these efforts are often accompanied by extensive state control and surveillance.

1. Legal and Regulatory Framework

  • National Cybersecurity Strategy: Belarus has developed a comprehensive national cybersecurity strategy aimed at protecting its critical information infrastructure. This strategy outlines the roles and responsibilities of various government agencies in ensuring cybersecurity.
  • Cybersecurity Law: The legal framework includes regulations that mandate cybersecurity measures across different sectors. This law requires organisations, especially those in critical sectors like finance, energy, and telecommunications, to implement robust cybersecurity protocols.
  • Data Protection: Laws and regulations governing data protection are enforced to safeguard personal and sensitive information. These regulations ensure that entities handling such data implement appropriate security measures.

2. Institutions and Agencies

  • Operational and Analytical Center (OAC): The OAC, under the President of Belarus, is responsible for overseeing cybersecurity initiatives and coordinating the efforts of different agencies. It plays a key role in developing and implementing national cybersecurity policies.
  • CERT-BY: The Computer Emergency Response Team of Belarus (CERT-BY) is the primary agency for handling cybersecurity incidents. It provides incident response services, conducts threat analysis, and disseminates information on emerging cyber threats.
  • Ministry of Internal Affairs: The ministry is involved in investigating and prosecuting cybercrimes, working in tandem with other security agencies to enforce cybersecurity laws.

3. Cybersecurity Measures and Initiatives

  • Critical Infrastructure Protection: Special emphasis is placed on securing critical infrastructure sectors such as energy, banking, and telecommunications. Measures include regular security assessments, implementation of advanced security technologies, and stringent access controls.
  • Public-Private Partnerships: The government collaborates with private sector entities to enhance cybersecurity. These partnerships involve sharing threat intelligence, conducting joint training programs, and developing cybersecurity solutions.
AI strategies and policies

The AI landscape in Belarus is shaped by government initiatives, a robust IT sector, educational institutions, and collaboration with international partners.

1. Government Initiatives

  • High Technologies Park (HTP): The HTP in Minsk plays a central role in the development of AI in Belarus. It provides a favourable environment for IT companies and startups, offering tax incentives, simplified administrative procedures, and access to a growing network of tech companies and talent. The HTP has attracted numerous AI-focused companies, fostering innovation and development in the AI sector.

2. Educational and Research Institutions

  • Universities and Technical Schools: Belarusian universities and technical schools offer specialised programs in AI, data science, and machine learning. Institutions like the Belarusian State University and the Belarusian State University of Informatics and Radioelectronics are at the forefront of AI research and education, producing a skilled workforce to support the growing AI industry.

3. Private Sector and Startups

  • IT Companies: The Belarusian IT sector is well-developed, with many companies integrating AI into their products and services. Companies like EPAM Systems and Itransition are known for their work in AI, providing solutions for both domestic and international markets.
  • Startups: A vibrant startup ecosystem exists in Belarus, with many startups focusing on AI-driven solutions. These startups are active in various sectors, including healthcare, fintech, and e-commerce, creating innovative products that leverage AI technologies.

General profile

Official name: Republic of Belarus

Source: Wikipedia

National internet domain: BY

Source: Wikipedia

Area: 207,595 km2

Source: Wikipedia

Capital: Minsk

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 9.2 million

Source: Wikipedia

Population growth: -0.8

Annual population growth rate for year t is the exponential rate of growth of midyear population from year t-1 to t, expressed as a percentage. Population is based on the de facto definition of population, which counts all residents regardless of legal status or citizenship.
Source: World Bank Open Data

Life expectancy at birth: 72.37

Total years (2020year) Source: databank.worldbank.org

Rule of law estimate: -1.10

Rule of Law captures perceptions of the extent to which agents have confidence in and abide by the rules of society, and in particular the quality of contract enforcement, property rights, the police, and the courts, as well as the likelihood of crime and violence. Estimate gives the country's score ranging from approximately -2.5 to 2.5 (Estimate 2021)
Source: databank.worldbank.org

Regulatory quality estimate: -0.65

Regulatory Quality captures perceptions of the ability of the government to formulate and implement sound policies and regulations that permit and promote private sector development. Estimate gives the country's score ranging from approximately -2.5 to 2.5 (Estimate 2021)
Source: databank.worldbank.org

Political stability: -0.74

Political Stability and Absence of Violence / Terrorism: measures perceptions of the likelihood that the government will be destabilized or overthrown by unconstitutional or violent means, including politically-motivated violence and terrorism. Estimate gives the country's score ranging from approximately -2.5 to 2.5 (Estimate 2021)
Source: databank.worldbank.org

Economic info

Currency: Belarusian ruble

Source: Wikipedia

Unemployment: 3.5

Unemployment, total (% of total labor force) Source: databank.worldbank.org

GDP (current US$): 72 billion

Source: databank.worldbank.org

GDP growth (annual %): -4.7

Source: databank.worldbank.org

GDP per capita (current US$): 7,888

Source: databank.worldbank.org

Inflation, consumer prices (annual %): 15.2

Source: databank.worldbank.org

GNI (current US$): 70 billion

The Gross National Income, GNI, formerly referred to as gross national product (GNP), measures the total domestic and foreign value added claimed by residents, at a given period in time, usually a year, expressed in current US dollars using the World Bank Atlas method. GNI comprises GDP plus net receipts of primary income (compensation of employees and property income) from non-resident sources. Source: databank.worldbank.org

Ease of doing business score: 57.91

The ease of doing business score benchmarked economies concerning their proximity to the best performance in each area measured by Doing Business for the year 2019. Estimate gives the country's score ranging from0 = lowest performance to 100 = best performance Source: databank.worldbank.org

Digital profile

Internet and social media penetration:

Individuals using the internet: 89.5 (2022)

Individuals using the internet, total (%) Source: www.itu.int

Social media statistics: 5.63 million

Estimate for 2024
Source: datareportal.com

Male internet users: 88.6 (2022)

Male internet users as a % of total male population
Source: www.itu.int

Facebook users: 701.7 thousand

Estimate for 2024
Source: datareportal.com

Female internet users: 90.1 (2022)

Female Internet users as a % of total female population
Source: www.itu.int

Instagram users: 3.90 million

Estimate for 2022
Source: datareportal.com

Households with internet access at home: 89.5 (2022)

Households with internet access at home (%) Source: www.itu.int

Linkedin users: 880.0 thousand

Estimate for 2024
Source: datareportal.com

Fixed broadband subscriptions: 32.77 (2022)

Total fixed broadband subscriptions (per 100 people) refers to fixed subscriptions to high-speed access to the public internet (a TCP/IP connection), at downstream speeds equal to, or greater than, 256 kbit/s.
Source: www.itu.int

Twitter users: 220.3 thousand

Estimate for 2024
Source: datareportal.com

Mobile infrastructure and access:

Mobile ownership: 98.6

Mobile phone ownership as a % of total population (Estimate for 2022)
Source: Source: www.itu.int/

Mobile Infrastructure: 64.54

Mobile Infrastructure index: High-performance mobile internet coverage availability. It includes parameters such as network coverage, performance, quality of supporting infrastructure and amount of spectrum assigned to mobile network operators (Estimate for 2022)
Source: https://www.mobileconnectivityindex.com/

Male mobile ownership: 98.2 (2022)

Male mobile phone ownership as a % of total male population
Source: www.itu.int

Mobile Affordability: 52.34

Mobile Affordability index : The availability of mobile services and devices at price points that reflect the level of income across a national population. It includes parameters such as mobile tariffs, headset prices, taxation and inequality (Estimate for 2022)
Source: https://www.mobileconnectivityindex.com/

Female mobile ownership: 98.9 (2022)

Female mobile phone ownership as a % of total female population
Source: www.itu.int

Cybersecurity Index: 50.57

Cybersecurity Index (Estimate for 2021): ITU cybersecurity value
Source: www.itu.int

Network performance: 51.19

Network performance index: Quality of mobile services measured by download speed, upload speed and latencies (Estimate for 2022)
Source: https://www.mobileconnectivityindex.com/

Mobile download speeds: 17.16

Mobile download speeds: Average download speed for mobile users (originally in Mbit/s) (Estimate for 2022)
Source: Ookla's Speedtest Intelligence

Mobile uploads speeds: 49.49

Mobile uploads speeds: average uploads speed for mobile users (originally in Mbit/s) (Estimate for 2022)
Source: Ookla's Speedtest Intelligence

Mobile Latencies: 86.92

Mobile Latencies: Average latency for mobile users (originally in milliseconds) (Estimate for 2022)
Source: Ookla's Speedtest Intelligence

Speedtest-Broadband: 11.55

Speedtest-Broadband: The value is expressed in Mbps (Estimate for 2022)
Source: https://www.speedtest.net/global-index

Network coverage: 89.99

Network coverage (% of total population) (Estimate for 2022)
Source: https://www.mobileconnectivityindex.com/

2G Coverage: 99.9

Coverage % of population
Source: www.itu.int

3G Coverage: 100.0

Coverage % of population
Source: https://www.mobileconnectivityindex.com/

4G Coverage: 90.0

Coverage % of population
Source: https://www.mobileconnectivityindex.com/

5G Coverage: 0

Coverage % of population
Source: https://www.mobileconnectivityindex.com/

Operating system and browser market share estimate:

Operating system market share (%):

Desktop, Tablet & Console Operating System Market Share: Estimate for 2022
Source: https://gs.statcounter.com/

Browser market share (%):

Browser Market Share Worldwide: Estimate for 2022
Source: https://gs.statcounter.com/

Android: 36.94

Chrome: 61.49

Win10: 27.6

Safari: 15.63

iOS: 13.64

Edge: 1.73

OS X: 4.52

Firefox: 4.38

Win11: 1.83

Samsung Internet: 1.77

The UN E-Government Survey 2022:

The UN E-Government Survey is the assessment of the digital government landscape across all UN member states. The E-Government Survey is informed by over two decades of longitudinal research, with a ranking of countries based on the UN E-Government Development Index (EGDI), a combination of primary data (collected and owned by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs) and secondary data from other UN agencies.

E-Government Rank: 58

Nations E-Government Development Index (EGDI), a combination of primary data (collected and owned by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs) and secondary data from other UN agencies. Estimate gives the country's rank.
Source: https://publicadministration.un.org/egovkb/en-us/data-center

E-Government Index: 0.76

The EGDI is a composite measure of three important dimensions of e-government, namely: provision of online services, telecommunication connectivity and human capacity. Estimate gives the country's score ranging from approximately 0 to 1.
Source: https://publicadministration.un.org/egovkb/en-us/data-center

E-Participation Index: 0.43

The E-Participation Index (EPI) is derived as a supplementary index to the United Nations E-Government Survey. Estimate gives the country's score ranging from approximately 0 to 1.
Source: https://publicadministration.un.org/egovkb/en-us/data-center

Online Service Index: 0.53

The online services index was developed by the UN to evaluate the scope and quality of government online services. Estimate gives the country's score ranging from approximately 0 to 1.
Source: https://publicadministration.un.org/egovkb/en-us/data-cente

Human Capital Index: 0.9

The Human Capital Index (HCI) quantiï¬_x0081_es the contribution of health and education to the productivity of the next generation of workers. Estimate gives the country's score ranging from approximately 0 to 1.
Source: https://publicadministration.un.org/egovkb/en-us/data-center

Telecommunication Infrastructure Index: 0.84

Telecommunication Infrastructure Index- Telecommunication Infrastructure Index (TII) Composite Indicator that measures the countries' Telecommunication infrastructure readiness to adopt the opportunities offered by Information and Communication Technology as to enhance their competitiveness. Estimate gives the country's score ranging from approximately 0 to 1.
Source: https://publicadministration.un.org/egovkb/en-us/data-center

ICT information:

ICT skills

Information economy indicators

Individuals with basic ICT skills (%): 35.9 (2021)

Source: www.itu.int

Share of ICT goods, % of total exports (value) 1.09 (2021)

Source: https://unctadstat.unctad.org/

Individuals with standard ICT skills (%): No data

Source: www.itu.int

Share of ICT goods, % of total import (value): 3.61 (2021)

Source: https://unctadstat.unctad.org/

Individuals with advanced ICT skills (%): 1.4 (2021)

Source: www.itu.int

Most visited website: vk.com

The survey conducted in 2022 excluded global dominant sites (e.g., YouTube, Facebook, and Google) and search engines (e.g., Yahoo, Baidu, DuckDuckGo, Naver, and Yandex) to level the playing field and discount middle-man visits. Likewise, it did not include adult, betting, illegal streaming/downloading services, and malicious websites.
Source: https://www.hostinger.com/tutorials/the-most-visited-website-in-every-country