Digital Inclusion for All
Much of the world still lacks basic Internet access. According to ITU
statistics, global Internet user penetration reached 30% in 2010, a milestone in
penetration achieved in developed countries some nine years earlier, in 2001.
Internet user penetration in the developing world as a whole, however, remains
considerably lower, at just 21% in 2010, and was just 11% in Africa.
At present, millions of people cannot enjoy these benefits because access to
broadband networks is limited or prohibitively expensive. Broadband
subscriptions cost less than 2.5 % of Gross National Income (GNI) per capita in
the 40 most connected nations. But at the other end of the scale, in the 30
countries with the lowest level of broadband penetration, subscriptions cost
over 100% of per capita GNI.
This is not just about exclusion from the latest news, gossip or amusing
video content – it is about exclusion from critical infrastructure; from
telemedicine and remote diagnosis; from the online wealth of educational
information; from online services and applications which can improve the lives
of millions. Broadband infrastructure cannot therefore only be for rich
countries – or there is a risk of creating a new ‘broadband divide’. Everyone –
wherever they live and whatever their means – needs and deserves equitable and
affordable access to this infrastructure.