Youth lenses on meaningful access and universal connectivity

2 Dec 2022 12:00h - 13:00h

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ITU estimates that approximately 2.7 billion people – or one-third of the world’s population –remain unconnected to the internet in 2022.  Internet access is a necessity in today’s digital economy. The UN has called it a human right. To make this right a reality for everyone, the UN SDGs include a target for universal internet access to be achieved by 2030.  ITU estimates that approximately 5.3 billion people use the internet in 2022. This represents an increase of 24% compared to 2019. 

  • Africa achieved 13% year-on-year growth in internet penetration. Today, 40% of the population in Africa is online. 
  • Arab states showed robust growth, with the internet now reaching 70% of the population.
  • In Asia and the Pacific, internet penetration grew from 61% in 2021 to 64% in 2022, relative to the region’s population.
  • The Americas, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and Europe each achieved 3% growth, with more than 80% of the population online in each region.
  • Europe remains the most connected region globally, with 89 % of its population online.

While continued growth is encouraging, the discussion showed that without increased infrastructure investment and a new impetus to foster digital skills, the goal of connecting everyone by 2030 might not be achieved. Access to connectivity is not sufficient in itself, unless this access ‎is inclusive, useful, sustainable, affordable, and linked to human capacity development. Often, such challenges are overlooked or underestimated. 

Barriers can include: 

  • right speed
  • adequate device 
  • sufficient data
  • frequent connection
  • linguistic and literacy barriers
  • gender discrimination
  • lack of reliable power source

Participants acknowledged that to make a real difference in people’s lives, internet access needs to be of a sufficient standard. If policymakers focus only on improving the single metric of basic connectivity, efforts to improve internet access and use for all will fall short and the digital divide will continue to widen. 

Examples of improvement include:

  • public and private partnerships
  • local access provision through community networks
  • use of universal service/access funds in financing access
  • infrastructure sharing
  • decentralised approaches to infrastructure development


The session in keywords


WS352 WORDCLOUD Youth lenses IGF2022