Today, a third of the world’s population remained without internet access and the pace of new connections has slowed, according to the latest UN statistics released in mid-September 2022.
“Some 5.3 billion people around the world now use the internet and while growth continues to be encouraging, the trend suggests that without new investment in infrastructure and a new impetus to ignite new digital skills, the chances of connecting the world’s population by 2030 seem increasingly slim,” said the International Telecommunications Union (IUT), in a press release.
While this year 2.7 billion people still do not have access, they were still 3 billion in 2021 and 3.6 billion in 2019, just before the Covid-19 pandemic.
This “gave us a good boost in terms of connectivity, but we must maintain the same pace to ensure that everyone can benefit from digital services”, said Houlin Zhao, the secretary general of the United Nations organization.
“This can only be achieved with more investment in digital networks and technologies, best-example regulations, and training,” he added.
The IUT has identified two main obstacles to its goal of a fully connected global population: First, the populations that are still unconnected are also the hardest to reach, and second, the difficulties in moving from simple access to regular and easy access.
The ITU explained that there are often underestimated obstacles such as slow connection speeds, too expensive equipment, and subscriptions, the lack of digital culture or even cultural and linguistic barriers, as well as gender discrimination and sometimes the simple lack of access to electricity.
Strong differences between regions
Africa is the least connected of the six ITU regions, with 40% of the population online, while in Arab countries this rate increases to 70%.
In Asia-Pacific, the internet penetration rate has increased from 61% in 2021 to 64% this year.
The Americas and the Commonwealth of Independent States show rates of over 80%.
While Europe (The Old Continent) ranks at the top of the list with 89% of its population connected.
Source: Agence France-Presse (AFP)