According to the latest statistics from the United Nations (UN), approximately one-third of the global population does not have access to the internet. Despite reaching all-time high numbers of people connected, around 2.6 billion individuals are still without access. In the past year alone, the number of internet users increased by approximately 100 million, with 67% of the world’s population, or 5.4 billion people, now online.
While acknowledging the progress made in connectivity, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the UN agency for information and communication technologies, emphasizes the need for continued efforts to achieve universal and meaningful connectivity by 2030. ITU Secretary-General Doreen Bogdan-Martin stated that meaningful connectivity should be accessible to everyone, everywhere, and expressed the commitment to work towards this goal.
Notably, the areas with the greatest potential for growth in connectivity are low-income countries. However, the ITU’s latest report highlights that the double-digit growth in connectivity observed during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 was not sustainable. It suggests that the current trends are insufficient to ensure universal and meaningful connectivity by the target year of 2030.
Closing the digital divide and ensuring equal access to the internet is crucial for promoting economic development, education, and social inclusion. The UN, along with various stakeholders and organizations, continues to address this issue as a global priority. By investing in infrastructure and implementing policies that promote inclusive connectivity, it is hoped that more individuals will gain access to the internet, bridging the digital divide and allowing for greater opportunities and connectivity worldwide.