Developing world is hardest hit, with 90 percent of people in some countries not connected
Billions of people around the world are missing out on the richness of the online world due to a lack of any Internet connectivity, a new study by the United Nations has said.
The State of Broadband report, produced by the UN Broadband Commission, found that 57 per cent of the world’s people remain offline and unable to take advantage of the enormous economic and social benefits the Internet can offer.
In an attempt to improve this, from this week forward, the UN will now include access to reliable and fast internet connectivity as one of the body’s main Sustainable Development Goals to help improve the quality of life in all areas of the world.
According to the report, the Internet is currently only accessible to 35 percent of people in developing countries. The situation in the 48 UN-designated Least Developed Countries (LDCs) is particularly critical, with over 90 percent of people without any kind of Internet connectivity.
Overall, South Korea boasted the world’s highest household broadband penetration, with 98.5 percent of homes connected, followed by Qatar (98 percent) and Saudi Arabia (94 percent), with all the top ten countries all located in either Asia or the Middle East.
The lowest levels of Internet access are mostly found in sub-Saharan Africa, with Internet available to less than two per cent of the populations in Guinea, Somalia, Burundi and Eritrea.
The new Sustainable Development Goals will be introduced into the 2030 Agenda, a new series of guidelines set to be formally adopted by the UN at a summit in New York later this week.
“The UN Sustainable Development Goals remind us that we need to measure global development by the number of those being left behind,” said Houlin Zhao, the Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), who serves as co-Vice Chair of the Commission with Irina Bokova, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
“The 2030 Agenda recognizes the power of new technologies to accelerate human progress, to bridge the digital divide, to develop knowledge societies – we must do everything to support States in reaching these goals, especially developing States,” Ms. Bokova noted.
“This calls for stronger efforts by governments and all actors, in ensuring access, use and affordability – it requires also greater work to build the capacities of all women and men to make the most of all new opportunities,” she added.
What do you know about Internet networks? Try our quiz!