The United Nations News Centre published this 30 November 2015, an article on the world’s access to the internet. 

According to the UN International Telecommunications Union (ITU)’s annual Measuring the Information Society (MIS) Report, an estimated 3.2 billion people are now online and mobile-phones subscriptions have reached almost 7.1 billion worldwide.

The report also notes that all 167 economies included in the ITU’s ICT Development Index (IDI) improved their IDI values between 2010 and 2015 – meaning that levels of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) access, use and skills continue to generally improve throughout the world.

The MIS Report is acknowledged to be most serious, reliable and impartial on the state of global ICT development.

Governments, international organisations, development banks and private sector analysts worldwide rely on its studies and annual reports

“ICTs will be essential in meeting each and every one of the 17 newly-agreed sustainable development goals (SDGs),” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao, “and this report plays an important role in the SDG process. Without measurement and reporting, we cannot track the progress being made, and this is why ITU gathers data and publishes this important report each year.”

“ITU’s work in gathering and publishing statistics allows us to monitor the real progress being made in ICT development worldwide,” said Brahima Sanou, director of ITU’s telecommunication development bureau, which produces the report.  “Progress is encouraging in many areas but more needs to be done – especially in the world’s poorest and remotest regions, where ICTs can arguably make the biggest difference, and help bring people everywhere out of extreme poverty.”

Internet: more people online than ever before

By the end of this year, 46% of households globally will have Internet access at home, up from 44% last year and just 30% five years ago, in 2010.  In the developed world, 81.3% of households now have home Internet access, compared to 34.1% in the developing world, and just 6.7% in the 48 UN-designated Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

Latest data show that growth in Internet use has slowed down, however, posting 6.9% global growth in 2015, after 7.4% growth in 2014. Nonetheless, the number of Internet users in developing countries has almost doubled in the past five years (2010-2015), with two thirds of all people online now living in the developing world.

The average IDI values vary considerably between the 6 different different world regions.  These could be summerised as follows:

In Africa, 29 out of 37 African countries rank in the bottom quarter of the 2015 IDI.

The Americas with the most significant movements up and down in global IDI rankings.

The Arab States are spear-headed by the GCC countries – Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Asia-Pacific most diverse region with stark differences in levels of economic development, hence IDIs.

The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) region shows the least variation of any region between its highest and lowest performing countries.

Europe, with the greatest improvement in IDI rankings between 2010 and 2015 achieved by the United Kingdom.

Reading the original Measuring the Information Society Report 2015 is greatly advised.