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    Only 36% of Least Developed Countries’ Population Use the Internet

    Internet usage is as low as 6% in the most extreme cases such as Burundi.

    07 Mar 2023

    Rabat - Approximately 720 million people in the world’s least developed countries (LDCs) did not have internet access in 2022, according to a new report by the UN’s International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

    The number means that only 36% (407 million people) in said countries were connected

    connected to the internet, compared to 66% globally. The countries accounted for 27% of the world’s offline population, in contrast to them only making up 14% of the world’s population.

    Despite the comparatively low rate, the report notes, the world’s LDCs are witnessing growth in internet adoption. The rate of internet adoption has surged from 4% in 2011, with the year of 2014 witnessing the highest growth rate at nearly 40%.

    While the growth rate of internet usage has declined since then, the report attributes that to a natural pattern that comes with growing internet usage. “Figures show that as Internet penetration increases, growth in Internet use tends to slow down,” the ITU said.

    Despite the 36% average between the least developed countries, the ITU notes that the number conceals vast differences between the countries, with internet adoption being as low as 6% in Burundi and as high as 86% in Bhutan.

    The latter number is on par with some of the world’s most advanced economies.

    The report highlighted further differences between the different LDCs, positioning Nepal and Bangladesh as the best-placed countries to grow their internet usage.

    In contrast, countries such as South Sudan, Somalia, and many others have the lowest mobile phone ownership along with the least affordable internet, making them badly positioned to grow their internet access.

    Developing countries still also lag behind when it comes to gender equality in internet access with the gap between women and men in connectivity showing no signs of narrowing.

    With the global economy becoming increasingly connected and digitized, inequality when it comes to internet access could pose considerable obstacles to developing economies participating and catching up to developed countries.


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