Worldwide, 2.7 billion people still do not have access to the internet. This means that at the moment one third of the world’s population still remains offline. That’s according to a report from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). According to the researchers, the study shows that the global internet is currently experiencing slower growth than during the height of the corona crisis.
It is estimated that approximately 5.3 billion people worldwide have access to the internet. While continued growth is encouraging, the report notes that without stronger investment in infrastructure and a new impulse to foster digital skills, every person on the planet will be less likely to be connected to the internet by the end of this decade.
“The outbreak of the corona pandemic has provided a strong boost to connectivity,” said Houlin Zhao, secretary-general of the International Telecom Federation, commenting on the results of the report. “However, this momentum must be maintained to ensure that digital technologies and services can be enjoyed by everyone everywhere.”
“However, this goal can only be achieved by boosting investment in digital networks and technologies, the further introduction of efficient legislation and a continued focus on skills development.”
Global connectivity continues to increase. After all, three years ago, approximately 3.6 billion people, almost half of the world’s population, had no access to the internet at all. Last year there were still 3 billion people. According to the researchers, advancing the digital transformation of the world faces two major challenges.
“Initially, it will become increasingly difficult to achieve universal connectivity,” it noted. “The population groups that were most easily accessible already have access to the most modern technologies. Communities that currently remain offline are usually located in remote or hard-to-reach areas.”
“In addition, it must also be ensured that with access to the technologies, the users are able to achieve a better lifestyle. Among other things, slow internet speeds can prevent certain superior services from being used. That also applies to the affordability of hardware and subscriptions.”
“Insufficient digital skills can also function as an obstacle in this area, just like a lack of language knowledge. In addition, discrimination can also be a problem, as can a lack of electricity supply. All of these issues must be addressed if the world is to provide equal access to online resources for everyone.”
The report notes that the number of internet users has increased by 7 percent in the past year. Internet penetration grew by 6 percent. However, it should be noted that progress is unevenly distributed across regions.
“Areas with low internet penetration have seen the fastest growth over the past year,” the report notes. “In this way, the internet follows the typical distribution pattern of new and emerging technologies.”
In Africa, the region with the lowest connectivity in the world, internet penetration increased by 13 percent last year. 40% of the African population is now connected to the internet. In the Arab region, a penetration of 70 percent can now be said. In the Asia-Pacific area, online penetration increased by 3 percentage points to 64 percent.
North America, South America, Russia and Europe also recorded an increase of 3 percentage points. In all these areas, more than 80 percent of the population is now online. With a penetration of 89 percent, Europe remains the most connected region in the world.