The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) estimates that at the end of 2018 51.2% of the global population – or 3.9 billion people – will be using the internet.
“ITU’s global and regional estimates for 2018 are a pointer to the great strides the world is making towards building a more inclusive global information society,” said Houlin Zhao, ITU secretary-general.
“By the end of 2018, we will surpass the 50/50 milestone for internet use. This represents an important step towards a more inclusive global information society.
“However, far too many people around the world are still waiting to reap the benefits of the digital economy. We must encourage more investment from the public and private sectors and create a good environment to attract investments, and support technology and business innovation so that the digital revolution leaves no one offline,” he said.
According to ITU, in developed countries, slow and steady growth increased the percentage of population using the Internet, from 51.3% in 2005 to 80.9% in 2018.
In developing countries, growth has been much more sustained increasing from 7.7% in 2005 to 45.3% at the end of 2018.
Of all ITU regions, the strongest growth was reported in Africa, where the percentage of people using the Internet increased from 2.1% in 2005 to 24.4% in 2018.
According to the estimates, the regions with the lowest growth rates were Europe, with 79.6% and the Americas, with 69.6 per cent of the population using the internet.
“The new 2018 estimates reveal that there continues to be a general upward trend in the access to and use of information and communication technologies,” said Brahima Sanou, director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau.
“Access to telecommunication networks continues to increase, in particular in mobile connections. However, affordability should continue to be at the top of our priorities for the digital economy to become a reality for all.”