12 May 2014

How many people around the world do you think are using the internet? If you had to guess a percentage, what would you say? 50? 60? Apparently, according to the ITU, it’s just 40% of the population, which stacks up to almost three billion people.

In fact, user number three billion is estimated to come online in early 2015. Does this figure surprise you or is it more or less what you expected? What might not surprise you is that most current users are from countries the ITU classes as ‘developed’ although apparently the fastest rate of growth nowadays is coming from ‘developing’ countries.

3_billion_internet_users-2As with all statistics, it’s probably better to look beyond what’s on the surface. It would be interesting to see a pie chart of the global users by age, for example. How many people are over 70 or 80 and simply aren’t interested in using it or feel like they’ve missed the boat? It will be interesting to see the shift in this demographic in ten or twenty years’ time when the tech savvy generation has become part of the aging population.

Having said that, I think there are parts of the world that are always going to be challenged with creating access to the internet, but we should be looking at irrigating deserts, laying fibre, planting trees – helping people to connect. I play online chess and I play against people from all over the globe. The beautiful thing about chess is that it knows no language barriers; it doesn’t matter whether you’re playing someone in Slovakia or someone in Japan.

The more people who can be exposed to the internet, the better, but sadly it will just take time. Until governments start reimagining how the world could look and realising their obligations then they will still be messing up, investing in projects that are just antiquated, outdated ideas.

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