A new report on data from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations specialised agency responsible for driving global Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), showed a slower growth in the number of internet users than at the height of COVID-19.
According to the report, an estimated 5.3 billion people worldwide are now using the internet, which is a drop from the figure previously obtained at the peak of COVId-19 in 2020.
The report said an estimated 2.7 billion people, which is about one-third of the world’s population, remain unconnected to the internet in 2022.
The report added that while continued growth would be encouraging, the trend suggests that without increased infrastructure investment and a new impetus to foster digital skills, the chance of connecting everyone by 2030 would look increasingly slim.
Analysing the report, ITU Secretary-General, Houlin Zhao, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic gave us a big connectivity boost, but we need to keep the momentum going to ensure that everyone, everywhere, can benefit from digital technologies and services.
“This can only be achieved with more investments in digital networks and technologies, implementing best practice regulation, and a continued focus on skills development as we move to a post-pandemic era.”
Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau, Doreen Bogdan-Martin, said: “While the rise in the number of people using the internet worldwide is positive, we should not assume the robust growth witnessed in recent years will continue unabated. Those who are still not using the internet will be the most difficult to bring online. They live in remote areas, often belong to disadvantaged groups, and in some cases are unfamiliar with what the Internet can offer. That is why our target needs to be not just universal connectivity, but universal meaningful connectivity.”
ITU defines ‘meaningful connectivity’ as a level of connectivity that allows users to have a safe, satisfying, enriching and productive online experience at an affordable cost.