ITU report: one-third of the global population remains unconnected

The latest numbers from ITU show that roughly 33 percent of the global population is unconnected.

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New data from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) shows significant progress in global internet connectivity. Figures for 2023 reveal that the number of people worldwide without internet access has decreased to approximately 2.6 billion, down from 2.7 billion in 2022.

ITU data also highlights that 67 percent of the world’s population, equivalent to 5.4 billion people, are now online. This underscores the widespread internet adoption worldwide, with billions of individuals benefiting from digital access. However, the report emphasises that the digital divide continues to pose a significant challenge. Less than one-third of the population enjoys online access in low-income countries, where internet connectivity growth has been most significant. Despite a 17 percent increase in internet users in these regions over the past year, most citizens in these countries are still disconnected from the digital world.

ITU’s Director of Telecommunication Development Bureau, Cosmas Luckyson Zavazava, underscores that millions of people, particularly in low-income countries, are missing out on the life-changing benefits of internet access in this digital transformation era. The data also highlights the pressing need for more than just internet connectivity. In addition to expanding access, it is crucial to equip users with digital skills, enabling them to harness the internet’s full potential and navigate the online world safely.

Why does it matter?

The report also highlights a concerning reality: the double-digit growth in internet connectivity observed during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic 2020 has not been sustained. Current trends, though positive, are not robust enough to guarantee universal and meaningful connectivity for all by 2030. This indicates the need for further efforts to bridge the digital divide and ensure equitable access to the benefits of the internet.