According to the United Nations, nearly 3 billion people have never used the internet before. This is despite the fact that the Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the critical importance of being connected to the internet in order to continue working or studying.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) statistics published on Tuesday show that around 4.9 billion individuals have used the internet this year, an increase over the previous year (November 30th). This is an increase of 800 million individuals from the time before the epidemic.
This significant rise in users is possibly due that the covid-19 epidemic, which forced a lot of businesses, schools, and organizations to go virtual.
Since the beginning of 2019, 782 million individuals have used the internet, representing a 17 percent increase over the previous year. According to the International Telecommunication Union, the rise is 10% in the first year of the epidemic, the greatest yearly growth “in a decade.”
Thousands of companies and schools throughout the globe have been forced to close, sometimes for months at a time, due to the Covid-19 outbreak, prompting workers and pupils who were able to do so to go on to the internet in order to continue working and learning.
Access, on the other hand, continues to be inconsistent. Nearly 3 billion have never used the internet before, especially in underdeveloped countries, which account for 96 percent of the population who do not have access to the internet.
In addition to this, hundreds of millions of additional people who have access to the network can only do so via equipment that they share with others and/or can only access it at a slow speed, which severely restricts what they can accomplish on the internet.
ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao said, “There is still a lot of work to be done.”
Moreover, the organization underlines that a lack of internet access is not always associated with a lack of physical infrastructure. According to her, a 3G or 4G mobile network could potentially be accessible to 95 percent of the world’s population.
According to the ITU, the cost of equipment and services is much too frequently prohibitively expensive. She believes that access needs to cost around 2 percent of a poor country’s yearly per capita GDP in order to be financially feasible. However, in some of the world’s poorest nations, the cost might be as high as 20 percent or even more than that.
The absence of digital education is also a big impediment to progress.
Many individuals are also confronted with difficulties such as poverty, a lack of access to energy, and a lack of digital literacy.
Although the gap in access between men and women is narrowing, males continue to enjoy a significant advantage in terms of connectivity (62 percent vs 57 percent for women).
In wealthy nations, the well-known digital gap between urban and rural regions is very narrow, if not non-existent (89 percent of city dwellers have used the internet in the last three months compared to 85 percent in rural areas).
In impoverished nations, on the other hand, city inhabitants are twice as likely as people living in the countryside to have access to the internet (72 versus 34 percent ).