Posted by: MandyS | April 27, 2013

The Global Digital Divide

Block 2, Week 11, Activity 2

This activity seeks to explore internet usage across the world and where the take-up is greatest. Here is the table:

Table 1 World internet usage and population statistics June 30, 2012

World Regions Population (2012 Est.) Internet Users Dec. 31, 2000 Internet Users Latest Data Penetration (% Population) Growth 2000-2012 Users % of Table
Africa 1,073,380,925 4,514,400 167,335,676 15.6 % 3,606.7 % 7.0 %
Asia 3,922,066,987 114,304,000 1,076,681,059 27.5 % 841.9 % 44.8 %
Europe 820,918,446 105,096,093 518,512,109 63.2 % 393.4 % 21.5 %
Middle East 223,608,203 3,284,800 90,000,455 40.2 % 2,639.9 % 3.7 %
North America 348,280,154 108,096,800 273,785,413 78.6 % 153.3 % 11.4 %
Latin America/Caribbean 593,688,638 18,068,919 254,915,745 42.9 % 1,310.8 % 10.6 %
Oceania/Australia 35,903,569 7,620,480 24,287,919 67.6 % 218.7 % 1.0 %
WORLD TOTAL 7,017,846,922 360,985,492 2,405,518,376 34.3 % 566.4 % 100.0

The figures make interesting reading. 78% of the population of North America use the internet whereas only 15% do so in Africa. I don’t think this is particularly startling given the vast difference in infrastructure between the two countries. For me the more startling fact is that North America’s usage is only 11% of the world population compared to Asia’s 27% of the population using the internet  amounting to  44% of the world population.  Yet growth has been the greatest in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.

But it is the weight one can attach to these figures which is important in determining the digital divide. As Alan Woodley says, the figures perhaps show more of a ‘digital spread’. An internet user is identified as a person having the capacity to use the internet i.e. they have access and basic knowledge in its use but it does not take account of ‘several users’ on one connection or where a person might access the internet. Although a good overview, it is hard to use them as reliable figures in terms of assessing global digital divide.

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