Asia now accounts for more than half of the global internet users. Data gathered by Learnbonds.com indicates that during the first quarter of 2020, the continent accounted for 2.3 billion users representing about 50.3% of the global users.
From the data, Europe has the second-highest number of internet users at 15.9% which represents 727 million users. On the other hand, Africa has 522 million internet users representing 11.5% of the global tally.
With 453 million users, Latin America and the Caribbean region comes fourth. The region accounts for 10.1% of the worldwide internet users. In fifth place is North America with 327 million users, which represents 7.8% followed by the Middle East at 175 million users (3.9%). Oceania and the Australian region account for the least global internet user globally at 29 million which represents 0.6%.
Internet users expected to grow significantly
Although Asia accounts for the highest number of global internet users, this varies depending on the country. Countries such as China and India have high populations that are now accessing the internet largely through mobile phones. In general, the continent is witnessing strong economic growth, affluence, and the need for information which are acting as catalysts for the high users.
Moving into the second quarter of 2020, global internet users might increase following the restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The internet is now being used at a rate never experienced before.
Millions of people are now working from home, students are going online to continue their studies, governments are increasingly using the internet to communicate with citizens. At the same time, a significant amount of commerce has moved online, churches are streaming their services to keep their communities connected. Furthermore, the entertainment industry is also leveraging on the internet as many musicians continue to hold online concerts for their fans.
North America has the highest internet penetration rate
Despite having the fifth-highest number of global internet users, in the first quarter of 2020, North America accounted for the highest rate on internet penetration. According to the data, the region’s penetration stands at a staggering 94.6%. Europe occupies the second slot with 87.2% while Latin America the Caribbean region comes third with a penetration rate of 70.5%.
On the other hand, the Middle East region has a penetration of 69.2% followed by the Oceania and Australia region with a rate of 67.4%. From the data, the average internet penetration for Asia and Africa is below the world average of 58.7%. Asia’s penetration rate stands at 53.6% while Africa has 39.3%.
Internet penetration rates correspond to the percentage of the total population of a given country or region that uses the internet. The data was based on the global population of 7,796,615,710 and 4,574,150,134 estimated internet users as of March 3, 2020.
North America’s high penetration rates are due to factors such as internet freedom meaning that citizens have no major restrictions. Residents from this region leverage on the internet mainly for social media communication and e-commerce.
Most regions have seen an internet penetration of over 50% due to the rapid development of telecommunication network and technology infrastructure which has a direct impact on internet penetration and internet access.
One factor driving internet penetration is mobile phones through smartphones. This technology has allowed for mobile phones to stand in place of desktop or laptop computers in areas of the world where Internet connectivity is a more recent adoption. Unsurprisingly, internet penetration through mobile phones is expected to grow due to the increasing speeds of mobile internet connections and other development.
From the data, there still exists a huge digital divide as over 3 billion people don’t have access to the internet. Factors such as education, income levels, geographical restrictions, and digital literacy have been cited as the main reasons behind this divide. These factors are synonymous with Africa which accounts for the lowest internet penetration rates.
For high internet penetration rates to be achieved, there is a need for some regions to improve the infrastructure, providing affordable devices, data plans and overcoming digital literacy.