New Delhi (NVI): Over the decades, internet adaptation has steadily increased, but significant portion of the global population isn’t still connected to the internet, even in some of the world’s biggest economies.
The internet access has more than doubled since 2010. But despite its widespread use, the majority of countries have lower rates of access especially in Asia and Africa.
India has the highest number of disconnected people despite having the second largest online market in the world, almost 50 per cent of the country’s population still doesn’t have internet access, whereas, only 14 per cent of the US population remains disconnected to the web.
China takes second place, with over 582 million people not connected to the internet. This is partly because of the country’s significant rural population — in 2019, 39 per cent of the country’s population was living in rural areas.
Moreover, the gap in internet access between rural and urban China is significant. This was made apparent during China’s recent switch to online learning in response to the pandemic, when one-third of elementary school children living in rural areas were not able to access their online classes.
Notably, the rural-urban divide is an issue in many countries, not just China, even in places like the US struggle to provide internet access to remote or rugged rural areas.
While India, China, and Pakistan have the highest number of people without internet access, there are countries arguably more disconnected.
There are various reasons why these regions have a high percentage of people not online—some are political, which is the case of North Korea, where only a select few people can access the wider web. Regular citizens are restricted from using the global internet but have access to a domestic internet.
Other reasons are financial, which is the case in South Sudan, the country has struggled with civil conflict and economic hardship for years, which has caused widespread poverty throughout the nation.
In Papua New Guinea, a massive rural population is likely the reason behind its low percentage of internet users — 80 per cent of the population lives in rural areas, with little to no connections to modern life.
Meanwhile, with internet advancements like 5G are happening in certain regions, and showing no signs of slowing down, there’s still a long way to go before we reach global connectivity.
Despite the long road ahead, the gap is closing and previously untapped markets are seeing significant growth.
In addition to this, Africa has seen significant growth, mainly because of a massive spike of internet users in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) — between 2019 and 2020, the country’s number of internet users increased by 9 million (+122 per cent).
Therefore, this growth has been facilitated by non-profit organizations and companies like Facebook, which have invested heavily in the development of Africa’s internet connectivity.
Apart from this, India has also seen significant growth — between 2019 and 2020, the number of internet users in the country grew by 128 million (+23 per cent).