UN urges increased connectivity as global offline population drops to 2.6b
• NCC crashes access gaps by 10 million
Out of the estimated eight billion people on earth, the United Nations has said 67 per cent of the world’s population or 5.4 billion people are now online.
Speaking through its agency in charge of global technology, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the UN said about one-third of the global population or 2.6 billion persons remain offline.
It hinted that more people are connected than ever before, but added that progress needed to accelerate. The global body stressed that sustained efforts are needed to achieve universal and meaningful connectivity by 2030.
“The number of people worldwide not connected to the Internet decreased to an estimated 2.6 billion people in 2023,” it clarified.According to ITU, the reduction from the estimated 2.7 billion people offline in 2022 leaves 33 per cent of the global population unconnected in 2023, where 5.4 billion people are now online.
ITU Secretary-General, Doreen Bogdan-Martin, said: “This improvement in connectivity is another step in the right direction, and one more step towards leaving no one behind in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We won’t rest until we live in a world where meaningful connectivity is a lived reality for everyone, everywhere.”
The organisation said according to early estimates, growth in Internet connectivity remains the strongest in low-income countries, where data indicate that Internet users increased by about 17 per cent over the past year. However, less than one-third of individuals are connected to the Internet in these countries .
Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, Cosmas Luckyson Zavazava, explained: “We must not forget that behind this data are people who are not able to access the Internet and enjoy the life-changing benefits that it can bring in the era of digital transformation.
“These numbers highlight the importance of measuring and tracking data so that we know where to focus our efforts to meaningfully connect everyone to the Internet by 2030. With these developments, we must also focus on building digital skills for all to equip users with the necessary skills that may help unlock value and have a rewarding safe experience online.”
Indeed, in Nigeria, the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, earlier this year, observed: “We have worked tirelessly to ensure we bring telecoms services to people living in rural, unserved and underserved areas of this country, totalling 37 million people courtesy of the consultancy that was conducted in 2013.
“By 2022, we have reduced the clusters of access gaps to 97 from 207 in 2013. The number of Nigerians again has come down from 37 million in 2013 to 27 million as we speak.”
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