Europe leads as only 40% of Africa has Internet access
An estimated 5.3 billion people, or 66 per cent of the world’s population now use the Internet. This represents a growth rate of 6.1 per cent over 2021, up from 5.1 per cent for 2020-2021, but pales in comparison with the 11 per cent for 2019-2020 seen at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in the just released ‘Measuring Digital Development Facts and Figures 2022,’ which revealed this, said the earlier figure leaves 2.7 billion people offline, which shows how much remains to be done if the target of universal and meaningful connectivity that the world set itself for 2030 is to be reached.
In Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Americas, between 80 and 90 per cent of the population uses the Internet, approaching universal use (defined for practical purposes as an Internet penetration rate of at least 95 per cent). Approximately two-thirds of the population in the Arab States and Asia-Pacific countries (70 and 64 per cent respectively) use the Internet, in line with the global average, while the average for Africa is just 40 per cent of the population. Universal connectivity also remains a distant prospect in the least developed countries (LDCs) and landlocked developing countries (LLDCs), where only 36 per cent of the population is currently online.
Indeed, in Nigeria, data from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) showed Internet subscriptions through the GSM platforms, Fixed Wired, Internet Service Provider and Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) platforms dropped by 74,820, moving from 152.2 million to 152 million. On the contrary, broadband subscription however, leaped by 0.46 per cent in the period under review with 86.9 million people now enjoying the service.
While efforts are being made to bridge the gender gap globally, ITU revealed that on a global scale, 69 per cent of men are using the Internet, compared with 63 per cent of women, meaning that there are 259 million more men than women using the Internet in 2022.
The United Nations body for global telecommunications said gender parity is deemed achieved when the gender parity score, defined as the female percentage divided by the male percentage, stands between 0.98 and 1.02.
Accordingly, it revealed that over the last three years, the world has been taking small steps towards gender parity, moving from 0.90 in 2019 to 0.92 in 2022. It stressed that the gender parity score, however, only provides a partial picture, because it represents the ratio of two percentages.
Measured by the absolute difference between the numbers of men and women online, the gender gap actually increased by 20 million.
Further, while women account for roughly half of the population, they account for a disproportionate – and increasing – share of the global offline population: women now outnumber male non-users by 18 per cent, up from 11 per cent in 2019.
Generally, the regions with the highest Internet use also have the highest gender parity scores. In the Americas, the CIS and Europe, gender parity has been achieved. Both the Asia-Pacific and the Arab States have improved their gender parity score, whereas Africa has stalled in the last three years.
In terms of Internet usage, ITU observed that worldwide, 75 per cent of people aged between 15 and 24 use the Internet in 2022, 10 percentage points more than among the rest of the population (65 per cent).