You’re probably reading this article on your smartphone or laptop, comfortably connected to the internet. But have you ever paused to think about the billions who can’t? According to the latest data from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a staggering one-third of the global population remains offline. That’s 2.6 billion people disconnected from internet and are missing out on the digital revolution.
The Numbers Game
- Total Population Offline: 2.6 billion
- Total Population Online: 5.4 billion
- Percentage Offline: 33%
- Percentage Online: 67%
The number of people without internet access has slightly decreased from 2.7 billion last year. This indicates a slow but steady progress towards global internet connectivity.
Interestingly, the most significant growth in internet connectivity this year has been in low-income countries. Internet users in these regions have increased by 17% over the past year. However, less than one-third of individuals in these countries are connected to the internet.
The 2030 Vision: A Fading Dream?
The global community had set a lofty goal for 2030: universal and meaningful connectivity. But the current trends suggest that this objective is becoming increasingly elusive.
Barriers to Entry
- Infrastructure: Many regions still lack the necessary infrastructure for internet connectivity.
- Affordability: The cost remains a significant barrier for many.
- Digital Literacy: A lack of essential digital skills is another hurdle.
The internet is not just a tool for entertainment or communication; it’s a gateway to information, education, and employment opportunities. The absence of internet access can widen the digital divide and knowledge gap, leaving large swathes of the population behind.
Doreen Bogdan-Martin, the ITU Secretary-General, and Cosmas Luckyson Zavazava, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, both emphasize the human aspect behind these statistics. They stress the importance of accelerating efforts to ensure that “meaningful connectivity is a lived reality for everyone, everywhere.”
While the adoption of internet worldwide is on the rise, the pace needs to accelerate. The ITU and other organizations are working on various projects aimed at making connectivity meaningful.
So, the next time you scroll through your social media feed or binge-watch a series, remember the billions who can’t.