Technology

More than a third of the world’s population is not connected to the Internet

About 4.9 billion people have surfed the net this year, according to new data compiled by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) released on Tuesday. They are 800 million more people than before the pandemic. (Photo: 123RF)

Geneva – More than a third of the world’s population, or 2.9 billion people, has not yet connected to the Internet, despite the fact that the pandemic has demonstrated the crucial importance of the Internet to continue working or studying and has strengthened connections, according to the UN. .

About 4.9 billion people have surfed the net this year, according to new data compiled by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) released on Tuesday. They are 800 million more people than before the pandemic.

The fight against COVID-19 has forced the closure of countless companies and schools around the world, sometimes for months, and has caused employees and school children, who could, to go online to continue working and studying.

However, access remains uneven. Almost all the excluded live in a developing country, that is, 96%.

And for hundreds of millions more, who have access to the network, they can only do so with devices that they share with others and / or can only have low speed, which drastically limits what they can do on the Internet.

“There is still a lot to do,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao.

The unusually large increase in the number of users suggests that the pandemic has encouraged people to log in.

Since 2019, 782 million people have accessed the network in this way, a jump of 17%. The increase is 10% during the first year of the pandemic, the strongest annual increase “in a decade,” according to the ITU.

The organization emphasizes that the lack of Internet connection is not necessarily linked to the lack of infrastructure. According to her, 95% of the world’s population could theoretically have access to a 3G or 4G mobile network.

The price of equipment and services is often unaffordable, stresses the ITU.

She estimates that to be financially accessible, a connection must cost about 2% of the annual per capita income of a developing country. However, in some of the poorest countries in the world, the cost can reach 20% or more.

The lack of digital education is also a big obstacle.

Many people also face problems such as poverty and a lack of electricity or digital skills.

The access gap between men and women is decreasing, but the former are still a large majority to connect (62%) compared to 57% of women.

In rich countries, the famous digital divide between urban and rural areas is very slight (89% of city dwellers have used the Internet in the last three months compared to 85% in rural areas).

It is different in poor countries where urban dwellers connect twice as much as rural dwellers (72% versus 34%).

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