Development and Globalization: Facts and Figures2016 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

Target 17.8: STI for LDCs

Fully operationalise the technology bank and science, technology and innovation capacity-building mechanism for least developing countries by 2017 and enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology.
43 per cent of the world’s population was connected to the Internet in 2015.

The ambition to fully operationalize enabling technology and in particular ICT is a continuation of the Millennium Development Goals, in particular Goal 8 target F17.31. But as we have seen in many cases already, the target adopted for Agenda 2030 is wider in scope than its predecessor, and now incorporates broader concepts of technology, science and innovation. It also complements Goal 5 which, among other things, aims to empower women through technology.

The Inter-agency Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators (IAEG-SDG) has selected the proportion of individuals using the Internet as the indicator to measure progress towards this target. This indicator provides some continuity with the Millennium Development Goals, which used the proportion of the population with access to mobile networks and Internet penetration. The Millennium Development Goal indicators reported that in 2015, 3.2 billion people were linked to the Internet - 43 per cent of the world’s population (compared with 6 per cent in 2000). In fact, only ten years ago (2005), just over 1 billion people or less than 16 per cent of the world’s population were connected to the Internet (figure 17.15). In recent years, access has more than trebled. This growth has been particularly striking in developing countries, where connectivity has increased by a factor of four, so that now more than 35 per cent of people, or more than 2 billion people, in those countries are connected to the Internet.

Figure 17.15. Internet penetration rates, 2005-2015 (Percentage) Download data
Figure 17.15: Line chart
Source: ITU statistics aggregate data.
Notes: 2015: estimates. ITU region definitions.
Figure 17.16. Internet penetration rates by region, 2005-2015 (Percentage) Download data
Figure 17.16: Line chart
Source: ITU statistics aggregate data.
Notes: 2015: estimates. ITU region definitions.

But as noted throughout this report, regional progress has been uneven. Penetration rates in Europe are today close to 78 per cent, with the Americas at 66 per cent and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)17.32 at 60 per cent. Today only 21 per cent of the population, equating to 193 million people, have access to the Internet in Africa. Although the lowest of the continental penetration rates, it should be noted that Africa has had the highest growth rate, growing by a factor of 10 over the past decade where only 2 per cent of the population had Internet access in 2005. As can be seen from figure 17.16, the Arab States and countries in the Asia-Pacific region have more or less the same penetration rates of about 37 per cent.