Internet access rate in South Asia disappointing: PEW
The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Sunday said a third of the world’s population has online access to the Internet with South Asia having lowest penetration rates of 9 percent. Thirteen out of every 100 people in Sub-Saharan Africa have the Internet access. Mobile phones and internet have become integral part of development but South Asia is still lagging behind in the rapidly changing world, said Dr Murtaza Mughal.
According to latest World Bank’s report, mobile phone subscriptions have almost doubled every two years since 2002 to hit mark of 5.9 billion subscriptions globally, almost one for every person if distributed equally, he said.
In South Asia, 69 mobile phone subscriptions per 100 people were recorded in 2011, up from 8 in 2005. The developed economies had this rate 8 years ago.
Sri Lanka and India experienced an increase in mobile subscriptions of over 50 percent to become the biggest contributors to the region’s growth rate.
The number of Internet users world-wide has increased to 33 users per 100 people in 2011, from around 12 per 100 in 2003.
Developing economies in Europe and Central Asia, including the Russian Federation, had the highest penetration rates with 42 of 100 people having access to the Internet, still 9 years behind high-income economies.
However, developing regions are quickly catching up to high-income economies by increasing internet access using mobile phones. The number of mobile-broadband subscriptions in developing nations increased from 43 to 472 million in four years.
Africa is on the top where subscriptions increased from 14 million to 38 million in two years. Many developing economies may be crossing developed economies by combining the growing access to mobile technology with Internet access to improve access to communication and information, said Dr Murtaza Mughal.
Internet access rates show a greater digital divide between developing and developed economies than mobile subscriptions for which positive decisions are needed, he said.