The following data exemplifies some of the most salient issues surrounding Internet access and adoption. The points are color coded to correspond to the World Economic Forum Internet for All framework described in the Overview.
- Skills, awareness & cultural acceptance
- Local adoption & use
Developing countries now account for the vast majority of Internet users, with 2.5 billion users compared with one billion in developed countries. But Internet penetration rates tell a different story, with 81% in developed countries, compared with 40% in developing countries and 15% in the Least Developed Countries.
While almost one billion households in the world now have Internet access (of which 230 million are in China, 60 million in India and 20 million in the world’s 48 Least Developed Countries), figures for household access reveal the extent of the digital divide, with 84% of households connected in Europe, compared with 15.4% in the African region.
The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) asserts everyone should have access to the Internet. Underscoring the potential of the Internet to contribute to global development and empowerment, SDG target 9c calls for universal and affordable access in the world’s least developed countries by 2020. On our current trajectory, A4AI predicts that we’ll only hit this target in 2042 — 22 years after the target date set by the global community.
The most important socio-economic drivers of the gender gap in ICT access are education and age. Controlling for income, women who have some secondary education or have completed secondary school are six times more likely to be online than women with primary school or less.
Web Foundation (2015) [PDF]
The maturity of a country’s infrastructure as well as its demographics and geography all influence the degree of Internet coverage. In the past two decades, network operators around the world have made tremendous investments to build out Internet infrastructure and extend network access.
Growth in connectivity is lagging due to the failure of policymakers to tackle the combined effects of poverty and income inequality. While poverty on the whole is falling (both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of population), there are still over two billion people living in absolute poverty across the developing world (i.e., on less than US$3.10/day), many of whom live in LDCs.
India: 1MB per second costs the equivalent of US$61. These broadband access charges are more than four times that of China, Brazil and Argentina, and 20 to 30 percent higher than that of Vietnam and Malaysia.
A monthly prepaid data allocation of 1 GB (enough for just 13 minutes of Web use a day, excluding video ) costs, on average, about 10% of average per capita income. … And is double what people in developing countries spend on healthcare.
Web Foundation (2015) [PDF]