Over three billion people are now online and information and communication technology (ICT) growth remains buoyant in just about every country worldwide, according to ITU’s flagship annual ‘Measuring the Information Society Report’.
Latest data show that Internet use continues to grow steadily, at 6.6% globally in 2014 (3.3% in developed countries, 8.7% in the developing world). The number of Internet users in developing countries has doubled in five years (2009-2014), with two thirds of all people online now living in the developing world.
In the mobile cellular segment, the report estimates that by end 2014 there will be seven billion mobile subscriptions, roughly corresponding to the total global population. But it warns against concluding that everyone is connected; instead, many users have multiple subscriptions, with global growth figures sometimes translating into little real improvement in the level of connectivity of those at the very bottom of the pyramid. An estimated 450 million people worldwide live in places which are still out of reach of mobile cellular service.
“It is precisely in poor and rural areas where ICTs can make a particularly significant impact,” said Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, which produces the report.
The report identifies a group of ‘most dynamic countries’, which have recorded above-average improvements in their ICT Development Index (IDI) rank over the past 12 months. These include (in order of most improved): United Arab Emirates, Fiji, Cape Verde, Thailand, Oman, Qatar, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Georgia.
“ICTs have the potential to make the world a much better place – in particular for those who are the poorest and the most disenfranchised, including women, youth, and those with disabilities,” said ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun I. Touré.
ITU’s IDI is widely recognised by government, UN agencies and industry as the most accurate and impartial measure of overall national ICT development. It combines 11 indicators into a single measure that can be used as a benchmarking tool globally, regionally, and at national level, as well as helping track progress in ICT development over time. It measures ICT access, use and skills, and includes such indicators as mobile cellular subscriptions, households with a computer, Internet users, fixed and mobile broadband Internet subscriptions, and basic literacy rates.