Nearly three-quarters of the world’s population over the age of 10 own a telephone. cell phone that facilitates access to Internet in 2022, although a third of people are still not connected to the network, pointed out the UN on Wednesday.
“Mobile phones are the most common gateway to use Internet and the percentage of ownership serves as an indicator of the availability and access to the network”, indicated the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in its annual report on global connectivity.
The ‘Facts and Figures 2022’ study stresses that owning a mobile phone does not imply having access to Internet especially in low-income economies, where the cost of broadband services is still too high.
According to data collected by the ITU, 95% of people living in rich countries have a cell phone while in poor countries this index is reduced to 49%.
The covid-19 pandemic and its lockdowns forced hundreds of millions of people to work or study online, which triggered connectivity.
The report emphasizes that access to Internet It continues to rise, but less rapidly.
Today, it is estimated that 5.3 billion people, 66% of the world’s population, use Internet. Almost everyone who is not connected to the network lives in the poorest countries.
The percentage of people who use Internet It has not stopped increasing in recent years and has experienced a strong “rebound” in 2020, Thierry Geiger, ITU chief economist, told AFP.
But there is still a long way to go, because “too many people continue to live in digital darkness,” stressed Doreen Bogdan-Martin, who at the beginning of 2023 will become the first woman to lead the agency.
“Access to Internet is increasing, but not with the speed and equity across the world that is needed,” he added in a statement about the report.
A benchmark measure of access to Internet is the average price of mobile broadband services, which are usually cheaper than fixed access and allow users to access the network from a smartphone.
The price decreased from 1.9% to 1.5% of average gross national income per capita in 2022.
But their cost is still too high for the average consumer in most low-income economies. A basic mobile data plan in these countries costs an average of 9% of average income, the study highlights.
The percentage is still much higher than the cost of similar services in higher income countries, warns the ITU.
The UN agency calls on all countries to ensure affordable access to broadband, which it defines as a cost of less than 2% of per capita monthly gross national income.
“We have to keep working so that Internet increasingly affordable, even as the global downturn in the economy worsens prospects for many countries,” ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao said in the statement.
Economist Thierry Geiger stresses that while the cost of connectivity continues to fall, rising prices for basic necessities could force many people to go offline.
access to Internet it is increasingly considered a key service, but “food always prevails,” he recalled.
The numerical gap between rich and poor also includes a gender gap.
Although women represent close to half of the world’s population, there are 259 million fewer women than men with access to Internet. Only 63% of women have used the Internet in 2022, compared to 69% of men, the report indicates. (AFP)