The global internet space has an estimated 4.9 billion users in 2021, a 17 percent increase from an estimated 4.1 billion users recorded in 2019, reflecting a strong global surge in Internet usage, recent data gleaned from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies (ICTs), has shown.
In what it described as good news for global development, ITU attributed the unusually sharp rise in the number of internet users to measures taken during the pandemic, such as widespread lockdowns and school closures, which combined with people’s need for access to news, government services, health updates, e-commerce and online banking.
Despite the remarkable developments recorded in the digital technology ecosystem, the report noted that an estimated 2.9 billion people making up 37 percent of the world’s population are yet to gain access to the internet.
ITU further noted that of the 2.9 billion people currently without internet usage, an estimated 96 percent live in developing countries, adding that even among the 4.9 billion counted as ‘Internet users’, many hundreds of millions are not fully active being that they may only get the chance to go online via shared devices, or utilise poor connectivity speeds, which limits the usefulness of their connections.
Houlin Zhao, ITU secretary general, averred that while almost two-thirds of the world’s population is now online, there is a lot more to do to get everyone connected to the Internet.
To accelerate internet usage, Zhao said ITU will work with all parties to ensure that the building blocks are in place to connect the remaining 2.9 billion.