Info Service on UN Sustainable Development (Aug17/02)
4 August 2017
Third World Network
Youth are at forefront of the digital economy, says ITU
Published in SUNS #8516 dated 4 August 2017
Geneva, 3 Aug (Kanaga Raja) - Some 830 million young people, representing
more than 80 per cent of the youth population (aged 15-24 years),
are online in 104 countries, according to new data released by the
International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
In its ICT Facts and Figures 2017 released this week, ITU said that
out of the 830 million young people who are online, 320 million (39%)
alone are in China and India.
The proportion of young people aged 15-24 using the Internet (71%)
is significantly higher than the proportion of the total population
using the Internet (48%).
"ITU's ICT Facts and Figures 2017 shows that great strides are
being made in expanding internet access through the increased availability
of broadband networks. Digital connectivity plays a critical role
in bettering lives, as it opens the door to unprecedented knowledge,
employment and financial opportunities for billions of people worldwide,"
said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao, in a press release.
"ICTs continue to be a key enabler of economic and social development,
bridging the digital divide and fostering an inclusive digital economy,"
said Brahima Sanou, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development
According to ITU, in developed countries, 94% of young people aged
15-24 use the Internet compared with 67% in developing countries and
only 30% in Least Developed Countries (LDCs).
Nearly 9 out of 10 young individuals not using the Internet live in
Africa or Asia and the Pacific.
According to the United Nations specialised agency, young people represent
almost one-fourth of the total number of individuals using the Internet
In LDCs, 35% of the individuals using the Internet are young people
aged 15-24, compared with 13% in developed countries and 23% globally.
However, ITU noted that in developed countries, the proportion of
households with Internet access at home is twice as high as in developing
Only 15% of households in LDCs have Internet access at home.
In these countries, many Internet users are accessing the Internet
from work, schools and universities or from other shared public connections
outside the home.
ITU also highlighted the persisting gender gap in the digital economy,
pointing out that the proportion of men using the Internet is higher
than the proportion of women using the Internet in two-thirds of countries
"There is a strong link between gender parity in the enrollment
ratio in tertiary education and gender parity in Internet use,"
The only region where a higher percentage of women than men are using
the Internet is the Americas, where countries also score highly on
gender parity in tertiary education.
According to ITU, the proportion of women using the Internet is 12%
lower than the proportion of men using the Internet worldwide. While
the gender gap has narrowed in most regions since 2013, it has widened
In Africa, the proportion of women using the Internet is 25% lower
than the proportion of men using the Internet.
In LDCs, only one out of seven women is using the Internet compared
with one out of five men.
In other findings, ITU reported that mobile-broadband subscriptions
have grown more than 20% annually in the last five years and are expected
to reach 4.3 billion globally by end 2017.
It however noted: "Despite the high growth rates in developing
countries and in LDCs, there are twice as many mobile-broadband subscriptions
per 100 inhabitants in developed countries as in developing countries,
and four times as many in developed countries as in LDCs."
The global number of fixed-broadband subscriptions has increased by
9% annually in the last five years and 330 million new fixed-broadband
subscriptions have been added.
ITU however said that higher growth will be needed to bridge the divide
between developed and developing countries: there are 31 fixed broadband
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in developed countries against 9
in developing countries.
"Fixed-broadband uptake remains very limited in LDCs, with only
one subscription per 100 inhabitants."
ITU also found that mobile-broadband prices as a percentage of GNI
per capita halved between 2013 and 2016 worldwide.
The steepest decrease occurred in LDCs, where prices fell from 32.4
to 14.1% of GNI per capita.
Mobile broadband is more affordable than fixed-broadband services
in most developing countries.
"However, mobile-broadband prices represent more than 5% of GNI
per capita in most LDCs and are therefore unaffordable for the large
majority of the population."
In LDCs, said ITU, on average, an entry-level fixed-broadband subscription
is 2.6 times more expensive than an entry-level mobile-broadband subscription.
Despite the worldwide increase in high-speed fixed-broadband subscriptions,
there remains a lack of high-speed connections in the developing world,
with a penetration rate of 6% (1.6% excluding China) compared with
24% in developed countries.
Most of the increase in high-speed fixed-broadband subscriptions in
developing countries can be attributed to China, which accounts for
80% of all fixed-broadband subscriptions at 10 Mbit/s or above in
ITU noted that developing countries and LDCs are deploying fibre infrastructure
directly, leapfrogging cable and DSL.
However, the proportion of fibre broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants
in developed countries is twice as high as in developing countries,
and ten times higher than in LDCs.
ITU also found that international Internet bandwidth grew worldwide
by 32% between 2015 and 2016, with Africa experiencing an increase
of 72% during this period, the highest of all regions.
Global telecommunication revenues declined by 4% between 2014 and
2015, falling back to USD1.9 trillion.
ITU said developing countries are home to 83% of the global population
but generate only 39% of the world's telecommunication revenues.