Half the world will be online in 2019

“HALF OF WORLD’S Population Now Online”. The headline will write itself in 2019 when, based on estimates by the International Tele­communication Union (ITU), a UN agency, more than 50% of humanity will have access to the internet.

Although the ITU is generous in how it defines being online (it includes anyone who has used the global network of networks within the past three months), this will be an impressive landmark. A decade ago the fraction of humanity with internet access hovered around 20%. Closing the “digital divide” between the rich world and the poor would seem to be an unalloyed blessing, for economic development in particular. Studies suggest that a 10% increase in internet penetration is correlated with a 1.35% increase in GDP for developing countries.