Monday , September 21 2020
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One in two men has internet access

Internet illustration, in October 2018. (LIONEL VADAM / MAXPPP)

We are exactly 3.9 billion earthlings to connect to the internet. That's 51.9% of the world's 7.5 billion people. This is the first time that the 50% mark has been crossed. Conclusion of a report of the International Telecommunications Agency of the UN made public on December 8th. The United Nations, let us remember, decreed two years ago that Internet access is now a basic human right. It is worth remembering as we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The 50% mark is also crossed in terms of computer equipment: more than one household out of two in the world has a computer at home. Another even more spectacular figure is the mobile phone equipment. According to the UN, there are now more mobile phones than people on the planet: 107 phones per 100 inhabitants. And the 3G network covers 90% of the world's population.

Obviously these global figures hide a great diversity of situations. In rich countries, the Internet access rate exceeds 80%. And it is common that the same person has two mobile phones. Small surprise besides and little riddle: do you know which is the region of the world where there are more mobile phones in proportion of the population? It is in the CIS, in other words Russia and the countries of the former USSR, with an equipment rate of 137%, that is 1.37 phones per person! Conversely, in Western Europe, the rate of mobile phone equipment has been declining for five years. If we return to the internet, access remains a minority in Oceania, and even more so in Africa.

That said, even in Africa, the least equipped continent, the progression is very strong! It is even the continent where the progression is the fastest. We can therefore say that the digital divide is shrinking in the world. Three out of four Africans have a mobile phone subscription. Moreover, in several African countries, including Kenya, people are now paying for their purchases by telephone. Internet connections are also developing very fast in Africa: 13 years ago, only 2% of Africans had access to the web. They are 24% today. That said, if we go into detail, there is again a great disparity. The connection rate approaches or exceeds 50% in Morocco, South Africa, Nigeria. In contrast, it does not even reach 5% in Chad, Sudan and Burundi.

Finally, fixed telephony is disappearing altogether: only 12% of us have a fixed telephone in the world. Against 20% 15 years ago. It's in free fall!

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